On my June trip to New Jersey, I found the meaning of life. That probably requires some clarification. Let me explain…
I left Chicago early in the morning, landed in Newark, got a rental car, and drove to South Brunswick. My first stop was A & D Truck Leasing, a NationaLease Member. I met with Tony DeJoseph. We chatted about their business and how busy they are right now at their peak season. Tony shared with me the challenges they have in finding good technicians—a challenge that I hear about from nearly every member. I told him about some of the resources NationaLease has in place to assist our members, including our Careers page on our website, and our partnership with Universal Technical Institute.
It was almost lunchtime as I left A&D, and I had a bit of time before my next meeting, so I checked the map to see what was nearby. I realized I was just a few miles away from Princeton, NJ. Yes, that Princeton–home to the Ivy League school of the same name. In the small, quaint, and crowded downtown, I found a spot to park, and walked into the first place that caught my eye, Tiger Noodles. I soon realized that just about everything in town is named Tiger something, after the school’s mascot. Reportedly, Princeton is the oldest and first university in the US to adopt the tiger nickname. Football players of the early 1880s started to wear orange and black stripes on their stockings, jerseys, and stocking caps, leading sportswriters to call them “tigers.” I chose a table by the open window on this glorious summer day, and ordered a lunch special of Singapore Noodles. The accompanying fortune cookie bore a simple yet profound message: “Just to be alive is a grand thing.” As I strolled through the ivy-covered passageways of the campus, I thought about how grand it was, indeed. I found a quiet, sunny corner in the Campus Center to work, as I gazed out on the pristine lawns and centuries-old trees that blanket the campus and reflected on the many generations of students who had wandered these very pathways.
Reluctant to leave my magnificent surroundings, I nonetheless drove back to Newark and checked into my hotel. I did have something to look forward to that evening, as Glenn Garland with Lease Line NationaLease soon arrived to pick me up for dinner. We drove to the nearby Ironbound District, named for its proximity to foundries in the 19th and 20th centuries. The area brought workers into its manufacturing hub, along with saloons, breweries and gathering spots. Today the Ironbound District is home to over 170 restaurants, unique markets, European stores, and small cafes all contained within a four square mile radius. It is also home to Newark’s Portuguese community, and we arrived just days after the largest celebration of the year, Portugal Day. The streets were still festooned with lights and banners, as we settled in to a table at the very busy Fornos of Spain. Over a delicious paella (that could have fed a large family) Glenn and I discussed their business, as well as upcoming events and projects NationaLease is working on for our members.
The next morning, I drove to nearby South Plainfield to visit the team at H.K. Truck Services, Inc., a NationaLease Member. Vanessa Ciervo, Hank Knabe, and Bert Dreossi joined me to review our Supply Management and Capital Equipment programs. We also discussed our upcoming 75th Annual Meeting, and Financial Officers Meeting. They shared the exciting news that they were working on a new location in Boonton. When they showed me some before and after photos, I understood what they meant by “working on.” They had purchased a shop that was in need of some serious restoration, and they had scrubbed it until it sparkled. That location is now open for business!
From there, I headed north to Passaic to meet with Andy and Jared Kanter at Passaic-Clifton Driv-Ur-Self System, Inc., a NationaLease Member. To get to Passaic, you have to go through East Rutherford and pass by the Meadowlands Arena and MetLife Stadium. The New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils play here, as do the New York Jets and New York Giants, as it is only 7 miles from Midtown Manhattan. At one time the New York Red Bulls played here, too, making it the smallest city (population 8,913) to be home to five professional sports teams simultaneously. Once in Passaic, I sat down with Andy and Jared and discussed Supply Management programs, technician recruiting, and our upcoming events, and I learned about some of their plans for the business. I also got to hear some of Andy’s delightful stories about the grandkids, one of his favorite topics, and mine. I left Passaic heading back toward Newark and as I pulled on to the highway, the New York City skyline appeared on the horizon. The spectacular view accompanied me for several miles until the evening rush hour began to require my undivided attention to the cars merging lanes in front of me.
Just to be alive is a grand thing. Perhaps my claim of finding the meaning of life in New Jersey was a bit dramatic; however, I found plenty of evidence to support it. A brilliant blue June sky, a conversation with an old friend, the smell of freshly cut grass, a sip of Spanish rioja, the warm sun on my face…these are the things that make life grand. Luckily, these moments are always within reach for all of us. We just have to remember to stop and appreciate the things that are right in front of us. I am uniquely fortunate to have the opportunity to share many of these moments with our NationaLease Members from coast to coast. As we reflect on the past 75 years of NationaLease, the archives reveal wonderful old photos of many such moments, and as we celebrate our milestone anniversary this year, I look forward to many, many more. The journey continues…