Milestone Trailer Leasing Sean Ellison

Meet Sean Ellison

Traveling across the country and having an opportunity network and meet great individuals along the way. This is what Sean Ellison says is the best part of his job as Vice President of Operations at Milestone Trailer Leasing.

For two weeks of every month, Ellison visits Milestone’s various branches in the company’s national network – consisting of 25+ locations in the US, spanning from the Eastern Seaboard to the West Coast. A member of the Milestone leadership team since 2008, Ellison shares about his typical day, his proudest accomplishments, and what elevates good customer service to the “great.”

Day-to-Day

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

A typical day consists of managing our branch network. I oversee/assist with the buying and selling of equipment, coordinating deal fulfillment, and satisfying customer needs across our national network. I also manage the day-to-day personnel of operations out in the field. The great thing is that no day is the same.

When does your day start and when does it end?

My day starts the moment the alarm clock buzzes and goes until I sleep. Customers in the transportation industry have needs that are 24 hours a day. Assistance is needed around the clock. Our operations people are fielding requests at all hours of the day and our team is always there to help them when in a bind.

Core Competencies

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I am most proud of assisting and developing our branch network. We started out really small and now we’re capable of serving transportation needs of all sizes all over the country. I’m also very proud of the culture that we’ve established, and the personnel that we’ve built. Our customers will get same service in York, Pennsylvania as they would in Los Angeles. I’m proud of that cohesiveness.

What are your thoughts about leadership? What’s key in building good teams?

It happens with extensive amounts of one-on-one time. When we’re onboarding our employees, we spend a lot of time with them at our branches. We go over best practices and best ways in interacting with our customers. That kind of training takes a lot of time and energy. We are intentional about educating them on the way that we develop services and a lot of that comes from other employees who have been in this industry for a long time.

What is the key to customer service? What separates the good from the great?

The “great” is empowering individuals at branches to make the best decision for their customer quickly and effectively. And giving them the tools to do that. Not having to tell customer, “I’ll have to get back to you with an answer,” and instead allowing our employees to have the flexibility to provide on-the-spot answers and having the confidence to do that.

Challenges

What is the biggest challenge facing your industry today?

The trend toward e-commerce and just-in-time deliveries. The need for everyone to have everything done yesterday. This all leads to the challenge of tying together the right equipment, in the right place, at the right time. But there’s a whole other piece to it – the logistics piece, the moving of product, getting trailers and fixing trailers. There’s the physical part, the “moving of iron,” and melding it with the technology part, that’s the challenge. It come down to meeting and balancing expectations.

How is Milestone addressing those challenges?

The best way to do it is by developing the best network – An excellent group of repair and delivery vendors and employees. Both in the field and at our head office. I’m confident that we have that in every network and that we set realistic expectations with our customers. I’m confident of the vendors that we’ve chosen to partner with. Our repair vendors provide the backbone to our capabilities.

What sets Milestone apart from the competition?

Having a vast network of experienced and knowledgeable transportation professionals who are empowered to make quick decisions benefits Milestone customers. It really comes down to the educated people in the field who can take our vision and our customers’ requests and put them into action.

Why Milestone?

What do you like best about your job?

I like the fact that technically it’s a big industry, but the country gets smaller and smaller with technology. Being able to network with people around the country is something I love. I get to travel around the country and meet with people. My favorite part is being well traveled and connecting with fantastic people along the way.

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

I always enjoy sharing Milestone’s history. The original founders and how they came together from across the country to create the basis of what we work with today. When knowing how we got here, it makes working towards those same goals, on a much larger scale, much more enjoyable.

 

Milestone Trailer Leasing - Peak Season

Staying Ahead of the Game During Peak Season

We are in the midst of peak season – the months of August through December. This is when customer sales explode, particularly as holiday product comes in on ocean containers. This requires trucks to transport merchandise to the box stores in time for holiday shopping.

Because of this surge, many shippers and trucking companies need to supplement their fleet with rental trailers to meet the demands of peak season. With trailer availability at the tightest point of the year, shippers can expect it to be difficult to fill their needs. Milestone plans ahead by making sure all trailers are ready to go as capacity gets tight during this time of year.

“We recommend planning ahead and letting us know what their anticipated needs will be,” says Lori Crider, Sales Manager at Milestone Trailer Leasing. “The earlier they are reserved, the better.”

Milestone’s mission is to provide transportation equipment under the most creative, cost effective and flexible structures to optimize the value of our customer’s supply chain. Consider the following checklist as the first step in fostering your demand during a busy peak season.

Peak Season Checklist

Milestone has your back. Below is your checklist to prepare for Peak Season:

Confidence During Peak Season

Your Surge in Business, Our Dedicated Capacity

  • Secure your trailers only as necessary to satisfy peak demand
  • Visibility into expenses allowing you to avoid unexpected costs

All of Your Transportation Needs – One-Stop Shop

  • Choose the Right Equipment: Over the Road (OTR) and Intermodal Equipment (trailers, containers, chassis)
  • Connect with Your Local Branch: Our Nationwide Network includes 25+ locations across the US, stretching from Las Vegas and Southern California to America’s Heartland and the South to the East Coast

Choose Your Customized Program

  • One or multiple years
  • Lease and rental
  • Expand or contract with business requirements
  • Maintenance, parking and delivery options
  • Flexible terms and options
Milestone at IANA EXPO 2017

A Look Back on IANA EXPO 2017!

Review

IANA EXPO is always a great time to connect & learn! This year presented new opportunities to share with customers

Milestone at IANA EXPO 2017

around how we continue to push intermodal forward through:

  • The growth of America’s newest chassis fleet, launched in the past year, now expanding nationwide!
  • The benefits of reduced M&R (as well as the bottom line) through the use of new equipment.
  • Flexible leasing options, expert service & more!

Thank you to our customers, vendors & friends that joined us at our reception on Sunday. It was wonderful to get together with you to kick off such an incredible few days at IANA EXPO 2017!

 

Milestone Trailer Leasing - Jeff Alpert

Meet Jeff Alpert

 

Introduction

As President of Milestone Trailer Leasing, Jeff Alpert oversees the company’s highway trailer division which consists of 25+ locations across the US and 57,000+ units. The company veteran (he joined Milestone in 2000) recently shared what accomplishments he is most proud of and the biggest challenges facing the transportation industry.

Everyday Operations

Tell us about your role as President of Milestone Trailer Leasing. What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

I’m responsible for the oversight of Milestone’s highway trailer division which consists of 25+ locations and 57,000 units. My role is to help make everyone around me successful and get obstacles out of their way.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

I’m proud of the whole journey. I’m proud of the many years of organic growth to becoming one of the largest and fastest growing transportation equipment lessors in the United States.

Challenges

Biggest challenge facing your industry today?

One of the biggest challenges is around customer choice and customer expectations. Today, consumers want to have a product in their hand, yesterday, with a click of a button. That sense of urgency impacts everything we do. The challenge is keeping up with the velocity and pace of change. Our challenge is, “What can Milestone do to help our customers keep up with that velocity?”

What keeps you up at night?

How to tackle employee shortages and trying to get young people excited about the industry.

Hard to get a smart college grad to get excited about this space. We’re losing a lot of experience, knowledge-based in the business.

Outlook

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

Back to these ideas of flexibility and being creative problem solvers – for me personally and for the company DNA, it’s about the love of solving pain points and solving problems for our customer. We are continually expanding our knowledge around finding solutions in trailer leasing, especially with how quickly things are changing in transportation.

Personal Story

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

It’s related to how far we come. One story has to do with one of the first big acquisitions we worked on as a young company. They asked us about our net worth. It was $1 million. They asked, “$1 billion?” And we said, “No, $1 million.” It was kind of comical because it showed what a small potato we were at the time. And now here we are, close to a $1 billion company.

Dry Vans – Milestone Means Unparalleled Accessibility and Service

 Scale of Dry Vans

Dry freight over-the-road domestic hauling is the most common type of freight transportation in the US., with over 65 percent of freight being moved by truck. At Milestone Trailer Leasing, our expanded trailer fleet features over 57,000+ dry vans, flatbeds, specialized flat beds (single drops, double drops), reefers, local cartage vans, storage trailers and specialty equipment. Our extensive inventory of 53’, 48’, 45’ and 28’ trailers, coupled with unmatched personal attention is what makes us one of the nation’s leading trailer lessors.

“Our large-scale capabilities and excellence in customer service speak volumes about who we are,” says Lori Crider, Sales Manager at Milestone Trailer Leasing. “As one of the largest and fastest growing transportation equipment lessors in the U.S., we have the resources and equipment availability to provide what our customers need – but we also have that personal touch without being a too-large, slow-moving corporate machine.”

Personal Touch

We have a complete range of equipment to fit any application – factory direct new 2018s, mid-range model years for economical over-the-road use, and well-maintained older units for cartage and storage use. Our national network includes 25+ locations across the US, stretching from Las Vegas and Southern California to America’s Heartland and the South to the East Coast. Our customers benefit from equal access to trailer inventory all around the country as well as open architecture agreements and flexible lease options.

This means answers to peak capacity problems and door-to-door solutions to empower our customers for the long haul, last mile and everything in between.

Capabilities

Whether shipping foods and beverages, textile and clothing items, industrial goods and automotive parts, or plastic and building products, we know our customers. Milestone asks the right questions is at the heart of providing world-class service.

“Our customers have specific needs, particularly around the specs of a trailer,” says Crider. “They might need a smooth-sided interior, an aluminum roof versus a translucent roof; or they could be loading at night; they might need a swing door versus a roll door. It’s all about customization and personalization of the equipment.”

Milestone is There for the Long Haul & Last Mile

Personal Service

While the growing strength of e-commerce has been putting pressure on the transportation industry, Milestone Trailer Leasing is committed to keeping pace with the changing market. Milestone is there for the long haul and last mile.

We are committed to partnering with customers to search for more efficient ways of leasing dry van trailers. We can look at a dedicated trailer pool, a minimum quantity capacity guarantee, or any customized trailer solution that allows flexibility in day-to-day business. While the industry continues to shift toward major growth in e-commerce, Milestone is committed to supporting the companies operating in that space and building a rental or lease package to match.

Milestone Trailer Leasing Last Mile

“Milestone can provide new trailers that are reliable on the road in the long-haul application,” says Sarah Johnson, Executive Vice President of Branch Operations at Milestone Trailer Leasing. “Our network of dedicated trailer vendors and after hours service providers gives assurance that we can provide maintenance support 24/7. We are dedicated to keep you moving and on time.”

The Long Haul

The long-haul freight model has changed dramatically over the past several years. For example, the size of driver pools has not kept up with the rise in freight volume. Isolation and long periods away from home associated with long distance trucking is often a deterrent for a new generation of drivers. Experts watching these trends predict truck fleets will adopt short-haul, regional and “last mile” routes – taking advantage of port expansions on the Gulf Coast to get drivers home sooner while also effectively managing freight deliveries.

Milestone Trailer Leasing Last Mile

 

The Last Mile

Milestone recognizes this is where Last Mile deliveries, when a package makes the final leg of its journey to the customer’s requested location, make that critical difference. We understand and do everything we can to find ways to get our customer’s goods where they need to go in the shortest amount of time possible.

“Milestone is supporting the wider transportation network; from manufacturer, to warehouse, to fulfillment center, making sure the last mile delivery works more quickly,” says Johnson. “We understand the last mile and the technological enhancements that may be on the horizon. These enhancements can range from drones to ground-based delivery bots. We remain committed to supporting the process and making it more efficient.”

Why CARB Compliance is Important

CARB Compliance

At Milestone Trailer Leasing, we believe saving money and protecting the environment don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Ensuring our trailers meet stringent emission standards not only reduces our carbon footprint, it is beneficial to our customers’ bottom line.

The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is the “clean air” agency in the state of California that regulates emissions standards. The term “CARB compliant” means that a product meets these requirements, which are the most rigorous in the country.

“Meeting CARB compliance is very important – it’s fuel efficient, it’s green and ultimately it’s good for business,” says Jason Pahules, Regional Sales Manager at Milestone Trailer Leasing. “Not getting on board is only going to limit you.”

Innovate Dry Vans

In order to meet emissions standards, our dry vans are fitted with aerodynamic equipment compliant with all current regulations. Depending on our customers’ needs, we will fit our trailers with equipment including side skirts, spoilers fitted behind the back doors, and two panels on either side of a trailer; fitted across the top. Depending on the configuration, these systems can deliver 5 to 10 percent more fuel efficiency.

Reefers are fitted with state-of-the-art technology, known as forever filters.

“This is new technology that won’t have to be continually updated,” says Pahules. “It will make the refrigerated unit be Carb compliant forever.”

California is the leader in green and is paving the way for the rest of the country. Transportation companies are following suit and accepting that this is the direction the majority of the country is moving, and it’s important to drivers, too. As the regulatory environment regarding emissions standards become increasingly stringent, going green will become more important to our customers – even to those who don’t currently travel into or throughout California.

Milestone is proud to deliver these value-added services for our customers in today’s market.

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!

Milestone Trailer Leasing

What We Do: Trailer Leasing Services with a Personal Touch

Milestone provides personalized service in trailer leasing and rentals to our customers – every day, all year long. We are committed to supporting our clients in the form of open-architected arrangements, flexible options and added-value services.

We have a complete range of equipment to fit any application including factory direct new 2017s, mid-range model years for economical over-the-road use, and well-maintained older units for cartage and storage use. In addition, we have a large quantity of 53’ air ride trailers that are 2012s-2013s available for rental and lease at competitive rates.

Our Trailer Leasing services include:

RENTAL

For short-term needs, seasonal/peak demands, rental may best suit your needs. With no minimum term, this selection will allow you to utilize the equipment in new lanes or pools as you determine the long-term need. In addition, our rentals are billed on 12 calendar months, not 4-week cycles, which results in 13 bills over the course of a year from some leasing companies. We provide competitive priced equipment for storage, cartage and over-the-road needs.

LEASING

Entering into a lease is the most cost-effective way to supply steady business pools and lanes. This allows for competitive monthly rate, not subject to rate increases during the lease term, and ensures you have the right asset when you need it. As a lease customer, you also gain priority status if and when you need to rent trailers on a temporary basis.

BUYING/SELLING

Looking to buy trailers? Give us a call for current inventory. Looking to sell trailers? Give us a call with your current inventory. As an example of our capabilities, we may be able to arrange a purchase of your fleet, then lease it back to you until you either purchase or lease replacement trailers, or arrive at the end of their utility in your operation. We have both the resources and the creativity to consider solving any problem you may have with respect to trailers.

TRACKING SERVICES

Milestone partners with a variety of satellite tracking (GPS) services to provide the platform that best suits your needs, meaning you do not have to accept whatever system we happen to be offering. Tracking is available on both rental and lease equipment. We take care to ensure the customers can access the internet portal to provide accessibility to tracking. There is no additional fee for tracking, it is included in your monthly rental or lease rate.

For more information, contact your local Milestone location for availability and pricing.