This installment of “On the Road” took me places I had never been. As my plane landed in Jackson, Mississippi, I realized that this was the first time I had ever set foot in the state of Mississippi. The heat and humidity that greeted me, however, were no surprise! I drove to downtown Jackson to my home for the week, the historic King Edward Hotel. Recently renovated and opened as a Hilton Garden Inn, the hotel was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and declared a Mississippi Landmark in 1990. Right down the street from the hotel is the Old Capitol building, which served as Mississippi’s Capitol from 1839-1903. I had a delightful dinner at the restaurant in the hotel, and turned in for the night.
The next morning, I headed east to Meridian, Mississippi to meet with Scott Shelton and the folks at Trans Power NationaLease. They took me on a tour of their wonderful new building, and then we drove over to downtown Meridian, which is a beautifully restored old downtown. We went to lunch at Weidmann’s, which was established in 1870. Each table at Weidmann’s is set with a handmade peanut butter crock and an assortment of crackers. This tradition dates back to the 1940′s, when legend has it there was a shortage of butter due to the war. A guest mentioned that peanut butter would be a good replacement to accompany the crackers, and they have kept up the tradition to this day. Among our many topics, we discussed the challenges faced when hiring good people, especially drivers and technicians. I reminded them about our new Careers page on our Website and the success our members are beginning to find when using it to recruit new employees. After returning to the hotel that evening, I walked just a couple of blocks for an outstanding dinner at Parlor Market. The restaurant is housed in an 1898 building on Capitol Street that once served as a grocery store called Parlor Market, and they have maintained an authentic, historical atmosphere in the restaurant, while cooking very modern farm-to-table cuisine. Filled with good Southern cooking and plenty of history, I went back to the hotel to get ready for a long day of driving.
Memphis, Tennessee is an easy three-hour drive north of Jackson, so I got in the car and headed to Daco NationaLease. They recently moved into a brand-new facility, so I was eager to see their new place. Since I arrived there right around lunchtime, they took me back across the border into Mississippi to another great Southern restaurant, Sweet Pea’s. Richard, Michael, and Hoyt pointed out the lunch specials, as well as the T-shirts for sale that said “Southern cooking makes you good-looking.” We discussed our purchasing programs and our upcoming meetings, including the Annual Meeting and the Financial Officers Meeting, both of which will be held in Chicago this fall. The agendas for both of these meetings are packed with relevant content, since it seems like there is so much going on right now with new regulations, changes in equipment, accounting, insurance, and so many other areas. Registration is open for both meetings on our Website. Back in the car, I made the three-hour drive heading south to get some rest and prepare for my last day in Mississippi.
My trip the next morning was a short one, as Empire Truck Sales, a NationaLease Member, is only a few minutes away from downtown Jackson. Their sprawling 14-acre compound was impossible to miss! Bill Hamff and the folks at Empire showed me around their facility, from the welcome center complete with popcorn machine, free laundry services, and showers, to the very large and immaculate shop. I learned all about the history of the company, and we discussed the services NationaLease offers our members, including purchasing, reciprocal service, national account sales, and our weekly newsletter. As the thunderstorms rolled in, I headed back to the hotel for my final night in Jackson and one last meal in the hotel’s charming restaurant.
My first experience with Missisippi was partly what I expected—hot, humid weather, and great Southern hospitality and cooking—and partly a surprise—historic places with a modern twist. The NationaLease members I visited also reminded me how true our tagline “National Connections, Local Ownership’” really is. Although there is a different pace and way of doing business in the South, the standard of quality service and customer focus is the same from New York to California and from British Columbia to Florida. Our members have the flexibility to conduct their business in their local markets in the way that serves their customers best, while having the support and continuity of the NationaLease organization throughout North America.
Now I’m returning home to Chicago, anticipating the same hot, humid weather, and a few days of eating salads! I’ll be “On the Road” again very soon. I look forward to updating you on my next adventure!
Featured image source: misspreservation.com