My March trip didn’t keep me on the road long. In fact, I was traveling for just over 24 hours. Jeff Spence, NationaLease Vice President of National Accounts, joined me on a short trip to the City of Fountains—Kansas City. After we checked in to the lovely historic Hotel Phillips, John Malinee and John Keating of Success NationaLease picked us up for dinner in the renowned Country Club Plaza district. Besides being delightful dinner companions, John and John also proved to be knowledgeable tour guides. As we drove through the city, they gave us a brief but comprehensive history lesson.
Country Club Plaza was the first shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile. It was established in the early 1920s and designed in the architectural style of Seville, Spain. The origin of the city’s nickname is that Kansas City has more fountains than any city in the world except Rome. Over dinner at a great local steak and seafood place, we had a chance to discuss many of the NationaLease programs and their ideas and suggestions to continue to strengthen and improve on them.
Driving back to the hotel, they pointed out the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. The technical requirements for the world-class acoustics of this building made it one of the most complex structures in the world to design and build. We arrived back at our hotel filled with good food, and a greater appreciation of the history and architecture of Kansas City.
We started the next day with a visit to Brenda Miller of Convoy Leasco LLC, a NationaLease Member. We had a lively conversation with Brenda discussing everything from our purchasing programs to geographical inconsistencies. Brenda pointed out that if Kansas City is in the middle of the country and she has to travel east to get to Chicago, then how can it be considered the Midwest? Good question! We also discussed the upcoming Maintenance Managers Meeting on May 14-16. Due to the importance of good maintenance practices and our Reciprocal Service network, this is the one mandatory meeting each year for our members. This year’s meeting will be held in Dallas, and I think we all agreed that Dallas is in the West!
From there, we drove across town to visit with Ervin Bourland of Rapid Ways NationaLease. Ervin shared some fascinating history of Rapid Ways, and talked about some of the long-term customers they have. One of them has been renewing their lease contract for 21 years! We also discussed some of the programs NationaLease offers its members, such as the first-rate point-of-sale rental insurance program and the highly effective career page on our Website that is available for members to post their open positions. After lunch at a local Mexican restaurant (where everyone there seemed to know Ervin), we made our way back to the airport, and in just a few hours, back (east) to Chicago.
Whether my trip is short or long, it is always such a pleasure for me to speak with members and listen to their ideas. Our members are so passionate about NationaLease and have such great input and suggestions about how to continue to strengthen the system. It is this high level of engagement among our members that I believe truly sets NationaLease apart from the competition. I’ve never before been part of an organization where each individual cares so deeply about constantly improving. That passion for improvement is obvious in many ways, including a level of customer service that keeps customers coming back for over 20 years. East, West, or Midwest (sorry, Brenda!), our tagline always rings true. “National Connections, Local Ownership” is the foundation that NationaLease was built on in 1944 and that our members continue to build on today.