National Connections, Local Ownership
National Connections, Local Ownership

Jane Clark: On the Road-October 2019

I knew I was pushing my luck a little, but I thought October would still be a good month to go to Calgary. Temperatures in Chicago were unseasonably warm, which lulled me into a false sense of security. So you can imagine my surprise when I got an email from one of the members in Calgary alerting me to the six inches of snow that had just fallen. What else could I do but throw some extra clothes into my suitcase and head north?

As my plane approached Calgary, I looked out the window and saw a blanket of white covering the city and the surrounding mountains. I landed at the airport and drove toward Calmont NationaLease. Unlike most snowy days in the Midwest, the sun was shining brightly, which illuminated the sparkling snow. It was a breathtaking view, even though it seemed far too early for the winter wonderland. Once I arrived at Calmont, I met with Darren Currie to discuss our supply management programs, which help our members and their customers to save money on all the items that keep their trucks in good repair. We also talked about our upcoming Financial Officers and Canadian Meetings. Both of these annual events provide learning and networking opportunities for our members. I had a chance to get a tour of their facility, including their state-of-the-art parts warehouse, and learn more about their ever-growing business, as well.

I left Calmont, found my hotel, and decided to have an early dinner. On a map I saw a place called Cactus Club Café just a few blocks away. I was surprised to find the parking lot completely full at this early hour. Once inside, I was lucky to find a seat at the bar, because nearly all the tables were occupied. The Happy Hour crowd was in full swing, with a hockey game on TV, and the buzz of conversation at an already high decibel level. I had unknowingly stumbled upon a local hot spot, which made for great people-watching while I enjoyed my dinner.

The next morning, I headed over to New West Leasing, a NationaLease Member, to meet with Bernie Betke and Bryan Hutchinson.  They gave me a tour of their ultramodern building, as well as their new body shop. We talked about their new acquisitions, and they updated me on their plans for continued growth. We also discussed the upcoming Sales Meeting , where we get the salespeople and sales leaders of our member companies together for sales training and updates on what is happening in the industry, so that our salespeople can be great resources for their customers.  It was getting close to lunchtime, so Bernie and Bryan took me to the nearby Big Rock Grill. The brewery seems out of place surrounded by warehouses in a primarily industrial part of the city. It’s only open for lunch and private events, and on this day, was celebrating Oktoberfest, complete with dirndl-clad waitresses and picnic tables replacing the usual tables and chairs. The food was hearty and delicious, and I’m sure the beer was good, too. It was a bit early in the day for me to partake, although most of the patrons didn’t seem to have any reservations about ordering a cold one.            

That evening, after doing some work from my hotel room, I was intrigued by the website of a local restaurant that said it served  “Asian Street Food.”  I’m always up for trying something new, so I drove to the address, and found Cuty Restaurant in a storefront of a strip mall. Not expecting much in the way of décor, I was pleasantly surprised to see a cute interior decorated with bicycles, flowers, dark wood, and photos of Asian street markets. The menu was a mixture of Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, and Philippine cuisine, focused primarily on the snacks and dishes you can buy in the street markets. It was difficult to choose just one dish, since I have favorites from each of those cultures, but I finally decided on a noodle bowl filled with vegetables and marinated pork, and topped with spring rolls.  It was a great choice, but I wish I had time to try some of the others, too!

By the time I flew out the next morning, the temperatures had warmed to well above freezing, the six inches of snow had completely melted, and the sun was still glinting off the mountains.  As it turns out, I wasn’t pushing my luck at all. It reminded me of a line from Garrison Keillor, “Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known.” My travels confirm that line over and over. Every time I visit NationaLease members I get something better than I hoped for. That makes me a very lucky girl. The journey continues…

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