National Connections, Local Ownership
National Connections, Local Ownership

Jane Clark: On the Road – February 2019

By the time February rolls around in the Midwest, we are thinking about spring. The sparkly holiday lights have long been tucked away in the attic, the glittery white snow is now a dirty gray, and we are just plain tired. Unfortunately, spring is still a good two months away for us. With this weary mindset, I ventured north to Toronto.

Dean Vicha, President of NationaLease, and Joe Puff, VP of Truck Technology and Maintenance were with me as we stepped out of the airport into a surprisingly mild, sunny day. By the time we reached Tandet NationaLease, our winter coats were off, and left behind in the car. Kirk Tilley, Dan Villenueve, John Stafford, John Silva, and Joe Totera met with us, as we discussed our Reciprocal Service system, and how our members take care of each other when they have breakdowns over the road. We had a chance to tour their facility and see the new NationaLease Road Rescue, now managed by Canxxus, before joining them for dinner at a nearby steakhouse.

The next morning was much chillier, as Joe and I drove over to TPine Truck Rental, Inc., a NationaLease Member to meet with Vik Gupta and Sam Johal. We learned more about their business, and shared with them some of the programs we have available for our members, including purchasing programs through our Supply Management group, and insurance offerings, as well as training webinars and resources for everything from capital equipment purchasing to hiring technicians. Joe and I left TPine and stopped for lunch at a restaurant called Montana’s, which turned out to be a barbeque joint. It did seem a bit strange to be eating barbeque in a Wild West themed restaurant in Canada, but the food was good, and the waiter kept filling up our iced tea, so we had no complaints. From there, we continued on to nearby Trailcon Leasing, Inc. Trish Brisson met with us and discussed their growing business, as well as the upcoming Maintenance Managers Meeting.

With the temperature steadily dropping, and plenty of work to catch up on, Joe and I went back to the hotel, and plugged in our computers in the lobby lounge. By the time we were ready for dinner, neither of us really wanted to go outside. It was Taco Tuesday in the hotel restaurant, so we took advantage of a very low-key dinner and a chance to turn in early.

The weather forecast for the next morning sounded pretty bad—freezing rain turning to snow. Joe and I decided to give ourselves extra time for what was supposed to be an hour drive to Stoney Creek. That turned out to be a good plan. Despite fairly light traffic by Toronto standards, the roads were treacherous.  Rain hit the pavement and froze into a slippery, slushy muddle that rendered the brakes nearly useless. By the time we reached Metro Truck Leasing, a NationaLease Developing Member, their parking lot was covered in a thick sheet of ice.  I immediately regretted my choice of footwear, as I realized that the sidewalk, and even the grass was solid ice.  Joe and I slowly shuffled toward the entrance, and eventually made it there with some assistance from a brave employee who took pity on me in my high-heeled boots.  Once safely inside, we met with Alanna Hockton, Jim Neeve, Ryan Nelligan and Karl Bowley.  We spent some time with them reviewing NationaLease programs, learning about their growth and their business plans, and getting a tour of their impressive facility.

As I looked out the window at the rain and snow, I had plenty of time for reflection. I thought about how so much of how we view the world is simply a matter of perspective. A snowy day in February is depressing, but we hope and wish for a White Christmas. My 7-year-old self would look at a slushy sidewalk as a tremendous opportunity to put on my snow boots and splash in puddles, but as an adult, I see nothing but travel delays. Perspective is what changes problems to opportunities, and failures to wisdom.  Throughout the last 75 years, there have been plenty of problems and failures in NationaLease’s history.  I’m grateful for all the members who saw these as opportunities and wisdom, and continued moving forward to keep this organization strong and growing. I can learn from their example and realize that no matter how much snow we get, spring is truly just around the corner. The journey continues…


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