August is a good month for a drive in the Midwest. Well, any time the roads aren’t covered with snow and ice qualifies as a good time for a drive around here, but in August the cornfields are bursting with tall green stalks, the trees are in their fullest leafiness, and the days are still long and sunny, keeping the need for nighttime driving at a minimum. So along with all the families trying to get in a last vacation in before the school year starts, I hit the road with Scott Marzec, Member Programs Manager for NationaLease, and we set off early in the morning for a road trip through our neighbor to the east, Indiana.
Our first stop was Muncie and General Truck Leasing, LLC, a NationaLease Member. We met with Steve Bassett, who shared the progress on their new location in Toledo, and the challenges in building a new site. We also discussed our purchasing programs. Scott is our expert on all of our supplier programs, so he took the opportunity to share with Steve an overview of the many new suppliers we have partnered with just this year. By the time we left General Truck Leasing, it was lunchtime. We decided to look for a place to eat before we got back on the road. Our co-worker, Kimberly Black, a proud Ball State alum, speaks fondly of the campus, so we thought we would search for a good lunch spot near the school. We quickly found out that Kimberly is right; it is a beautiful campus. The brick buildings and green lawns are pristine and perfectly manicured, and trees line the surrounding streets. Ball State University had its start in 1876 as the Eastern Indiana Normal School. In 1917, the Ball brothers, local industrialists and founders of the Ball Corporation, bought the school and renamed it Ball State. Recent building additions and expansions have respected the style of the university’s older buildings with red and brown brick accented by limestone. A good example is the David Letterman Communication and Media Building, named after Ball State’s arguably most famous alumnus. On a great recommendation from Kimberly, we stopped for burgers and waffle fries at Scotty’s, a campus favorite.
After lunch, we continued on our way to our next destination, New Haven. We checked into our hotel, and had time to get caught up on some work before meeting for dinner. New Haven is very close to Fort Wayne, but we decided to get a taste of the local flavor and find a nearby spot to eat. We stumbled across the East Haven Tavern, found a seat outside on the patio, and enjoyed the lovely summer evening. Scott even had a true Indiana experience–his first pork tenderloin sandwich. Our hotel was only a couple miles away from our next stop, Patriot Truck Leasing of Indiana, so the next morning, we had a short trip to see Ben and Kim Ruble and the team at Patriot. We got a full tour of their brand new facility, then sat down to talk with them about their business. Patriot has a unique business model, as they specialize in roll-offs, refuse trucks, hooklifts, wet kit tractors, dump trucks, grain trailers, dump trailers and roll-off trailers. Like many of our members, their business grew out of providing service to their customers, and in Patriot’s case, they had an agricultural and industrial customer base who needed these kinds of equipment.
From New Haven, we went on to Fort Wayne and Parrish Leasing, Inc., a NationaLease Member. Chip Parrish took us to lunch at Rack and Helen’s Bar and Grill, and inspired by Scott, I had my own pork tenderloin sandwich (although by no means my first!) We had a chance to talk with Chip about a variety of topics including the recent Dedicated Logistics Summit and the upcoming 73rd Annual Meeting. Parrish Leasing has been involved in dedicated logistics for years, in addition to their full service leasing, rental and contract maintenance offerings, so it was great to have them participate in our first-ever Dedicated Logistics Summit. On our way out of Fort Wayne, we noticed a sign for DeBrand’s, a chocolate shop that had been highly recommended by Ben Ruble. Never one to pass up chocolate, I had to stop and get some treats to bring back to the office (and a few for myself). If you ever find yourself in Fort Wayne, I suggest the dark chocolate sea salt caramels!
We stopped for the night in Auburn, but still had about an hour drive the next morning to reach the northwest corner of Ohio. The route to Montpelier, Ohio took us off the main highway and onto country roads winding through corn and soybean fields as far as the eye can see, interrupted only by the occasional farmstead. We reached Transport NationaLease in Montpelier, and sat down with Larry Dean to discuss his current challenges, the principal one being recruiting drivers and technicians. We reviewed several of the resources NationaLease has available to assist our members with recruiting, including our Careers page, our partnership with Universal Technical Institute, and our annual Human Resources Summit. We were also able to spend some time with Joe Huston reviewing our purchasing programs and recruiting resources.
Although it’s just a short drive away, the cornfields of Indiana seem like a world apart from the city. Our member’s businesses reflect that difference, too, as our country cousins serve markets such as agriculture that their city cousins rarely do. The ability for each of our members to know their markets and make decisions based on what best serves their customers is one of the things that sets NationaLease apart from our competition. Even though each member adheres to the same high standards of service and performance across the network, they can customize solutions to best help customers from city to country, and from coast to coast. National Connections, Local Ownership is more than just our tagline. It describes exactly how we are able to serve our customers better than anyone else can, no matter where the road takes them. Just like the vintage NationaLease poster on my wall says, “No matter where you go, there we are.”