Milestone Trailer Leasing - Sarah Johnson

Meet Sarah Johnson

Milestone Trailer Leasing - Sarah JohnsonSarah Johnson, Executive Vice President of Branch Operations at Milestone Trailer Leasing, is driven to come to work to make sure her team is successful. “I love what I do,” she says. “I love to help them win. It’s very rewarding.” Johnson discusses how Milestone Trailer Leasing goes above and beyond when it comes to customer service, what the future holds for the company, and her biggest a-ha moment.

 

 

 

Milestone Background

Tell us about the transition from Personal Attention Leasing (PAL) to Milestone Trailer Leasing?

It’s always been about focusing on the customer service aspect. We have trailers and our competitors have trailers, but what’s the differentiating factor? For us, it’s about how we better partner with our customers. That gets back to this idea of creativity and flexibility. For me it’s fun to do some creative problem solving; I like innovating in an industry that doesn’t often require innovation. That was the whole foundation of PAL, it was about being flexible. It started out as a local, then regional and now we’re at a national level.

A Day in the Life

Tell us about your role as Executive Vice President of Branch Operations at Milestone Trailer Leasing. What does a typical day look like?

My day is focused around supporting branch operations in 25+ locations across the US. This could be through structuring deals for customers, sourcing equipment, and general problem solving. It’s about being in constant communication. Setting up calls every day to review pricing and quantity of trailers; fleshing out details; arming the operations team with data to go out and execute with customers. I spend a lot of time traveling, meeting customers, evaluating the sales approach, helping them to understand their markets, and ultimately evaluating how we can be more successful. That success then drives the metrics, utilization, and overall profitability of the business which is the most important for everyone!

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I’ve been in the industry a long time in a variety of functions. I’ve loved getting out over the past couple of years and building that customer rapport and getting on the frontline and watching those relationships grow. It’s very rewarding. It’s easy to sit behind a computer or on the phone and ask the team to do something, but getting out and doing it with them gives me firsthand knowledge of the interactions and how to help them through day to day issues.

Biggest a-ha moment?

Our most successful sales people have a strong rapport with their customers. They take their time to get to know their customer and build trust. They become a partner and not just a vendor. It’s not just about closing the sale, but having the rapport so that when the customer has a problem, they will pick up the phone and give us the chance to help them.

Providing a Great Experience

What’s the key to unparalleled customer service?

It’s finding employees who are driven to work hard and who are going to be of service. If the team is dedicated to building a successful business that translates into making sure the business is building strong customer relationships. You also have to be good at negotiating with customers; doing what’s in the best interest of Milestone while retaining the customer relationship. Therein lies the art.

What is key to a strong team?

There are many elements that make a strong team. A few worth noting are respect for one another, communication and having positive attitudes. We also have to collectively celebrate the wins (recognize failures) and respect each other’s roles on the team.

Challenges & Predicting the Future

What’s the biggest challenge facing your industry today?

Driver shortage and accessibility to drivers. In addition to new regulations with ELD (electronic logging device), the third thing is the shift to online retail. It’s changing the shape of transportation and who’s participating. It’s in its infancy, so there are a lot of efficiencies to be made on that front.

What does the future hold for Milestone Trailer Leasing? What things are you excited about?

Continuing to identify gaps in the industry then where and how to fill them. Thinking outside the box when it comes to industry-wide solutions, as well as continuing to develop a strong team. Nothing is stagnate and we have to be ready to evolve. What’s next? It’s exciting to think about.

What keeps you up at night?

I worry about if I was supposed to call someone back and didn’t because the day got away from me or if I need to get an answer to someone so I’m not holding them up. I worry about the overall health of the business and if we’re doing all we can to make it successful. The other thing is making sure I’m delivering the message and everyone is on board and we’re pushing in the same direction. We use the analogy about rowing a boat, and how we need everyone rowing in the same direction. It affects the team if someone is rowing the other way.

Why Milestone?

What is a great story about Milestone Trailer Leasing that you love to share?

We’re pushing on bigger accounts where we haven’t been able to before. We are partnering with bigger companies in a bigger way. It’s been organic growth; everyone pitches in to make it work and it’s rewarding.

What is a great customer story that you love to share about MTL?

There was a target account in Atlanta our sales rep was working on for over a year. For a year, she listened to me say, “Why aren’t we in there?” A year spent calling on them, working through several contacts and really cultivating a relationship with them. Today they have over 100 trailers with us. It speaks to the sales rep’s perseverance and drive to win. I love it!

Our New Corporate Headquarters

In an ongoing effort to support its growing customer base and in response to a remarkable growth year, Milestone Equipment Holdings, one of the nation’s most comprehensive lessors of transportation equipment, announces its new corporate headquarters in St. Charles, MO, near Interstate 70 and Zumbehl Road.

  • Address: 3050 West Clay Street, Suite 300 St. Charles, MO 63301
  • Telephone Number: 636-238-8896

The new facility will serve as a support hub for the company’s divisional offices in Chicago, IL (Intermodal and Chassis) and St. Charles, MO (Trailer Leasing), and its nationwide branch and depot network. This location will house the majority of the company’s administrative functions such as Finance, Accounting, Risk Management and Human Resources.

“Milestone is focused on providing outstanding service to our customers, while capitalizing on growth opportunities in the transportation sector,” says Don Clayton, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Milestone Equipment Holdings. “The construction of our modern new headquarters and the availability of adjacent space for future expansion provide a scalable platform to support that mission, while helping us become an employer of choice for our current and future associates.”

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Since its founding in 1995, Milestone continues to build on superior customer service and flexible solutions. Today, with a combined fleet of over 84,000 domestic chassis, containers and trailers, the company continues to offer customers full service transportation equipment leasing and asset management.

President and Chief Operating Officer, Jordan Ayers, added, “We are fortunate to have some of the most experienced leaders in the industry and this expansion will help us continue to grow and build, while also providing upgraded training facilities for our sales and operations personnel.”

 

Giving Is the Reason for the Season

In the spirit of giving back, Milestone Intermodal has recently donated a 53-foot steel container to the Keller Central High School Band in Keller, Texas to help students keep their equipment and props safe and secure, season after season.

“We have been talking about how to reach out and support our communities and for me, both personally and as a senior manager at Milestone, this is exactly what we need to do and where we need to give back,” says Amy Genobles, President of Milestone Intermodal.

Milestone worked in partnership with Kevin Smith of Equipment Management Services in Houston, which donated the cost of delivery of the 53-foot steel container. “It’s a really great feeling to work with vendor partners and have the opportunity to help the community,” says Genobles. “This is bringing it full circle.”

Looking for a solution to their storage situation, Keller Central High School’s Band Booster Association estimated program costs of $1,800 to $3,500 for off-site storage container options for students’ equipment and props.

“[Milestone’s] generosity allows us to use the money we would have spent replacing damaged equipment or paying the cost of other storage options and allows us to invest more in the training, education and needs of our students,” says Gina C. Root, Keller Central High School Band Booster Association Vice President.

It was a wonderful reminder of the power of paying it forward. “The overall satisfaction for us was the response we received from the high school,” says Genobles. “It was overwhelming. It really made me feel proud to be a part of Milestone. We look forward to future opportunities to support not-for-profit organizations locally and nationwide.”

The donated container is currently being converted for use as a storage unit. The finished product and photos to come!

 

Photo courtesy Keller Central High School Band

IANA 2016 Vinyls

IANA EXPO 2016: We Came, We Saw, We Launched

This year marked a true “milestone.” For the Intermodal Association of North America, the celebration of their 25th Expo. For our organization, the launch of the Milestone Chassis division and its modernized chassis program. Recently we celebrated both in Houston at the 2016 IANA EXPO.

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It was a pleasure to celebrate both events with so many friends throughout the industry. In addition to meeting with current and prospective customers in our booth over coffee while one of our new chassis was on view , we had the chance to demo ChassisFinder.com (now part of the Milestone portfolio) and highlight the chassis inventory in our expanded equipment fleet.

Our own Jordan Ayers was included on the panel “OTR Capacity Shortages – Will the Predictions Come True?”  Since there have not been any OTR capacity shortages this year the panel moderator, Larry Gross had the panel address other intermodal industry shortages, like chassis. Ayers commented on the surge in chassis bookings due to Hanjin Shipping’s recent bankruptcy. He noted the inability to return Hanjin containers to the terminal operators, railroads, and Hanjin’s depots as a key factor in causing the current chassis shortage. img_7498Many motor carriers are being forced to store mounted Hanjin containers on chassis for extended periods. Milestone has quickly responded by delivering more new chassis to the effected markets, living up to their customer-centric reputation.

This has been, and will continue to be a period of growth for our company, as we innovate and provide chassis solutions to meet customer needs. We look forward to introducing Milestone Chassis to all of our Intermodal partners throughout North America!