In May, I decided to head north, hoping that spring had finally arrived in North Dakota. I landed in Fargo quite late at night, and drove directly to the hotel – in the dark, so I wasn’t able to see much. But the next morning was bright and clear as I drove to Mapleton, ND. I stopped in to C&D NationaLease where I met with Chris Holland, Richard Houska, and Bret Joarnt. We talked about our remarketing and capital equipment programs, as well as our supply management programs. We also discussed the recent Maintenance Managers Meeting and the upcoming Annual Meeting. I showed them how to post jobs on our Career site, as we considered the current challenges many members face in hiring technicians, drivers, and other critical positions in their companies.
From Mapleton, I went further north to Grand Forks. It was a glorious day for a drive through rural North Dakota. The sky was the pale blue of spring in the Midwest, before the full strength of the summertime sun deepens its color, and the fields and trees were just beginning to burst into green. In Grand Forks, I met with Elizabeth Fehr at Signature Service, a NationaLease Member. We discussed the upcoming Human Resources Summit and the Financial Officers Meeting. We also talked about our supply management programs and the Substitute Rental Program that allows our members to easily and efficiently rent trucks from one another when they have customers with breakdowns.
I was grateful for the lengthening days as I left Grand Forks heading for Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. I arrived in the evening, but I took advantage of the remaining daylight to take a walk on the lakeside path just across the street from my hotel. Detroit Lakes is a city of just over 8,500 people most of the year, but in the summer months can swell to over 13,000 people, due to tourists and seasonal residents that take advantage of the area’s several lakes for fishing, boating, wake sports, sailing, jet skiing, and swimming. Detroit Lake, the most prominent of the lakes, has a mile-long city beach, and I had the good fortune to reserve a hotel room overlooking it. After I had walked the span of the beach, I stopped in at the Lakeside Tavern for some fish and chips. Due to its proximity to the beach, I expected to find a nearly empty, summertime-only kind of establishment that caters to tourists, but was pleasantly surprised to find it jam-packed with locals when I arrived, and nearly overflowing with patrons by the time I left. Between the excellent food and the fantastic views, it is easy to see why it is such a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike.
The next morning, I visited the team at Foltz Trucking, Inc. Mark Sonnenberg gave me a tour of the offices and shop, and I got to meet Tom, Ken, and Zach Foltz. Foltz just celebrated their 60th year in business last year. They started in 1958 when Clem Foltz bought a truck to transport corn to dairy farmers. Clem and Kathryn’s 14 children and now several grandchildren have continued to grow and expand the business over the last six decades, as they found their niche in bulk hopper bottom freight. Mark, Ken, and I discussed some of the resources NationaLease provides to our members, including our weekly NationaLease News, our supply management programs, and our remarketing division.
Back in Fargo, my last stop was Wallwork NationaLease, where I met with Dave Senftner and Sonya Timm. We discussed some of the unique opportunities and challenges they have in their market due to their proximity to the Bakken oil fields, and the harsh winters they endure each year. They also shared how much they rely on, and help out, other NationaLease members with Reciprocal Road Service. Sonya reflected on some of the things she learned and connections she made at the recent Maintenance Managers Meeting. All of NationaLease’s meetings and events are intended to do just that: foster connections among our members, and support them in staying current with industry information.
In an area of the country that many people would consider remote, it was obvious that it is all about connections. At each of my visits, the members all asked about and sent their regards to the other members I was visiting. Sure, Richard, Matt Ferry from Signature Service, a NationaLease Member, Mark, Sonya, and I had all seen each other at the previous week’s Maintenance Managers Meeting, but it was clear that these connections go far beyond a once-a-year meeting. They count on each other for more than just Reciprocal Service over the road. They help each other with insights, advice, and best practices. They share stories, warnings about negative experiences they’ve had, and encouragement when things go badly, or even when they go exceptionally well. It really should be no surprise. In fact, it’s right in our tagline: National Connections, Local Ownership. That’s one of the many things that makes NationaLease so special to our members and customers. We’ve been building connections for 75 years, and continue to build them every day.
The journey continues…