There is not much near El Paso. Well, sure, there’s the Mexican border along with miles and miles of desert. And, of course, it is home to University of Texas, El Paso (UTEP), the Sun Bowl, Fort Bliss, and a lot of cowboy boot makers. Yes, it has the largest urban park in the nation, along with a thriving arts scene, including music, theater, and dance. But, I mean, it’s not a place that you just stop by on your way to something else. So I finally figured out that if I was going to visit Southwest Leasing NationaLease, I had to make a specific plan to go to El Paso.
I knew very little about El Paso prior to my visit, but I kind of expected a sleepy, dusty, cowtown. After all, it is tucked away in the southwestern corner of Texas, closer to Phoenix, Santa Fe, and several Mexican cities than it is to its own state capital. I was right that there is plenty of dust, and cows, but it is far from sleepy. El Paso is a thriving city, fueled by international trade, oil, manufacturing, and tourists that want to take advantage of its 300+ annual days of sunshine. I got my first glimpse of El Paso as I drove from the airport. I was surprised to see an abundance of restaurants, shopping centers, and office buildings along the way to Southwest’s location, where I met Kim Freund and Eric Lujan. They gave me a quick tour of their facility, then rounded up everyone to go to lunch at one of Kim’s favorite spots for chicken mole, Carnitas Queretaro. After too many house-made tortillas, we went back to the shop and set up in the conference room for some training. Since I had never been to the El Paso location, we were taking advantage of the opportunity to give some updates and training to the staff there. We covered our Reciprocal Service system and reviewed our supply management programs before deciding to call it a day.
I checked into my hotel and settled in to answer a few emails and, before I knew it, the short December day had become night. The view from my window of the downtown El Paso high rise buildings against the backdrop of mountains became even more dramatic after dark. The lights of El Paso, along with the lights of nearby Juarez, Mexico, blended together to tint the sky with an orange glow. I got an even better look as I stepped outside to get a bite to eat. The scenery combined with the mild temperatures left me no doubt about why over nine million tourists visit El Paso every year.
We continued our training the next morning reviewing the variety of resources NationaLease makes available to our members, including opportunities for learning and networking at our events throughout the year, and programs for everything from technician recruiting assistance to marketing support. We also discussed some of the tools we can offer to our customers, such as our rental insurance program and our Safety & Compliance Central newsletter. Although I was technically the one doing the training, I learned just as much from Kim and Eric and the whole team at Southwest about the area’s growing economy, low unemployment, and great cost of living and cost of doing business.
Not much near El Paso but cows? Yep, except for the gigantic 400 foot man-made star on the side of Franklin Mountain that is lit by over 400 light bulbs, and the landmark Plaza Hotel opened in 1930 as a Hilton by hotel mogul Conrad Hilton, and the El Paso Mission Trail dating back to 1598, and Tommy’s Place Bar, the birthplace of the margarita, and of course (my personal favorite) Southwest Leasing NationaLease. You can call it The Sun City, or the Six Shooter Capital, but make no mistake—El Paso has more than tumbleweeds. As the city’s official slogan says, if you come here, “You better El Paso Up.”