January is the month of resolutions. Actually, there are a lot of “re” words that seem to appear in the month of January: refocus, renew, refresh, restart, recharge, revitalize. The prefix “re-“ comes from the Latin for “again”, which explains why we see so many of these words popping up in January. When we take down that 2015 calendar (or scroll over to it on our smartphones), we mentally get ready to start over again. So it seemed very fitting that most of my January was devoted to another “re” word: reorientation.
When a new member joins NationaLease, we spend a lot of time going through an orientation. We explain all the programs and services NationaLease provides to our members, show them where and how to access these services, give them contact information in case they have questions, and give them binders, tutorials, and materials so they are equipped to take advantage of all the benefits NationaLease has to offer. Well, we’ve been around since 1944. We still have a founding member in the organization, and the rest became members sometime in the previous 72 years. That’s a long time to remember our orientation! Obviously, as members grow and change, add staff and replace staff, some of the information gets lost along the way. Of course, NationaLease is constantly growing and changing, too, and adding more programs and services to assist our members. My travel in January was focused on members who had requested that I come back and give them a reorientation, which I was delighted to do.
My first stop was Denver. Even if you aren’t a football fan, there is no way you could be in Denver and NOT know that the Broncos were in the playoffs. I can only imagine what the city looks like now that they have made it to the Super Bowl! I checked into the Warwick Hotel in downtown Denver and was welcomed with a lovely fruit plate and card, and I even arrived just in time for the complimentary wine and cheese reception. The Warwick Hotel is located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver, which is one of the most cosmopolitan neighborhoods, well known as a haven for artists and bohemians. It is also the center of Denver’s punk community with various stores that cater to punks and hipsters. During the day, lobbyists and politicians from the Colorado State Capitol can be seen making deals in the restaurants and bars of the neighborhood.
I decided to take a walk to find somewhere to have a bite to eat, and just a couple of blocks away, I came across the very trendy Park and Co. I sat at the bar and was served a tasty turkey burger and truffle fries by a couple of hipster bartenders, as the young crowd continued to grow. The food was great, and the people-watching was even better! The next morning, I had the chance to spend some time with Kyle Schmidt and several of the team from All Fleet Services NationaLease. They have been a NationaLease member since 1998. Quite a few things have changed at both NationaLease and All Fleet Services in the last 18 years! It was a great opportunity for a reorientation. I had the chance to get to know some of their staff who I hadn’t met and get them caught up on all the new programs and services NationaLease has to offer. We took some time to look through nationalease.com together so that they could see all the resources they can access there: job postings, webinars, staff and member contact lists, emergency services directories, upcoming meetings and events, and the Buyer’s Guide for products and services, just to name a few.
The next stop on my journey was Winnipeg. Even other Canadians like to call it “Winterpeg”, and for good reason. I tried not to even look at the temperature, but the one time I did, it was -15 degrees Fahrenheit—and that was in the middle of the day! Joe Gallick, Senior VP of Sales for NationaLease, joined me to visit the folks at Transolutions Leasing and Rental, a NationaLease Member. Although Transolutions has only been a NationaLease member since 2009, they have experienced so much growth in the last seven years that many of their current staff weren’t on board when they joined. Itamar Levine, Kevin Beaulieu, Daryll Clow, and Neil McLeod met with us and took us on tours of their two facilities in Winnipeg. Their newest facility just opened a few months ago and is quite impressive. They have accommodations for everything from leasing and rental to maintenance and even a technician training center. At lunchtime, they took us to a local favorite, Salisbury House. This local chain has quite a history. It was opened in 1931 by Ralph Erwin, an American actor in a traveling road company that visited Winnipeg. The restaurant he started with a borrowed $135 has now grown to 20 locations. The restaurant was named “Salisbury House” after Lord Salisbury, who was famous in England for his love of ground steak. The hamburger craze had just begun to sweep the United States, and Salisbury House was the first to introduce the hamburger concept to Winnipeg, as well as the first restaurant in Winnipeg with drive-in “car-hop” service, which they pioneered in 1954. The “Nips” as the burgers are called, were a perfect quick lunch before returning to Transolutions for a reorientation of our programs, including the many sales and marketing resources we have available to our members for both local and National Account customers. That evening, Joe and I decided to leave the warmth of our hotel and venture out for dinner. We only made it about a block and a half, before (thankfully) finding a great pub called The Pint, where the hockey game was on TV and poutine was on the menu. I couldn’t convince Joe to sample the artery-clogging Canadian staple consisting of French fries covered with cheese curds and gravy. Delicious!
My last excursion for January was a quick one. Scott Marzec, Member Programs Manager for NationaLease, and I made the short drive north to Milwaukee. Siva NationaLease has been a NationaLease member since 1986, but has recently made some changes and thought it was time for a reorientation. We were happy to sit down with Craig Halverson and Craig Punak to review NationaLease’s offerings for our members, especially the opportunities to purchase various products and services through our Buyer’s Guide. On our way out of Milwaukee we had to stop by Airoldi Brothers NationaLease, where we were able to spend a few minutes with Jim and Cheri Airoldi and several of their team before hitting the road just in time to make it back to Chicago before getting stuck in rush hour traffic.
I believe we accomplished a lot in January. All Fleet Services got reoriented to the NationaLease website and the resources available to them. Transolutions got reoriented to the sales materials and the National Account program. Siva got reoriented to the Buyer’s Guide and the programs available to save them money. And I got reoriented to the challenges and opportunities all of these members face as they run their businesses every day.
The statistics about New Year’s resolutions are pretty dismal. Only 1 in 3 people keep their New Year’s resolutions past the end of January. I’m actually one of the 38% of Americans who don’t make New Year’s resolutions at all. But after spending time with our members this month, I have a better idea. Instead of making New Year’s Resolutions, we could all have New Year’s reorientations. We could catch up on anything we missed in the past year, review the things we’ve forgotten about, and make adjustments any place we’ve gone off track. One of the definitions of the word “reorientation” is “figuring out where you are and pointing yourself in the right direction”. I think that would be a tremendous way to start every year.