Milestone Trailer Leasing Sarah Johnson

Women in Trucking – In Her Own Words

 

Meet Sarah Johnson 

The Beginning

While I was in college, I started working part-time for my dad’s trailer rental and leasing company, Personal Attention Leasing (PAL) which was based in St. Louis, Missouri. At the time, he had a rental fleet of 200 trailers. The summer I started, he added his second location in Kansas City, Kansas.

I always thought it was a temporary position, as I had different plans for my career path. I moved away to Chicago and Los Angeles while got my degree at but eventually settled back to the St. Louis area to help again with the business. We often joke that once you’re in transportation, you never get out!

Over the course of 10 years, Personal Attention Leasing grew through acquisitions of assets and companies to a fleet of 15,000 trailers and 12 locations. I held several roles in the company during those years. From inspecting equipment, processing invoices, human resource function, to helping with IT. Whatever it was, I would jump in and figure out how to make it happen, always putting the needs of the customer first. The growth of the company and my various roles gave me tremendous exposure to all aspects of the business, which I couldn’t have learned in any classroom.

Considering the fact that I worked for my father, I put pressure on myself to prove to my co-workers that I earned my position and that nothing was “given” to me. I often think back to how much I liked to play kickball at recess in the first grade. However, the boys would move in, thinking I couldn’t kick it very far. Then I would kick it over their heads. I simply wanted to get out on the kickball field and play (or win) the same game, the same way as my classmates. No special treatment.

Transitioning from Personal Attention Leasing to Milestone

In 2016 Personal Attention Leasing was rebranded to the parent company’s name of Milestone. The purpose was to represent all product lines to the market including intermodal equipment, containers, chassis and highway trailers. Today Milestone Equipment Holdings features 80,000 assets in total. As Executive Vice President of Branch Operations, I oversee our national network of 27 locations in the Trailer Leasing division. Our highway office is also our St. Louis branch, so it keeps me in touch with the equipment, driver interactions and the core of our businesses.

With our growth trajectory, I have been fortunate enough to see the transportation industry in all types of businesses and applications. I enjoy learning the inner working of the retailers, manufacturers, distributors and trucking companies. I’m equally passionate about helping these industries to creatively solve problems.

My Perspective

I enjoy working with the employees in the field, making them successful and remaining diligent to serving our customer base.

Being a woman in trucking reminds me of being on that kickball field. I don’t want special treatment. Not in my favor or against me. I am knowledgeable about this business, I know equipment, I have ideas, I like building business partnerships, and I enjoy making a profit. I want to use the skills I have developed to compete in the game.

My goal is that someday, perhaps with my help, I will have more women on my “team” in the board room to help “kick the ball over their heads.”

 

Accelerate! Conference & Expo

From Monday, November 6th to Wednesday, November 8th, I will be joining transportation, logistics, and supply chain peers at the Accelerate! Conference & Expo, hosted by Women In Trucking. If you will be attending and would like to meet, please complete the form below.

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Women in Trucking

The Women In Trucking Association is a non-profit organization with the mission to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, promote their accomplishments, and minimize obstacles faced by women working in the industry. For nearly a decade, we’ve been focused on this clear mission. It’s supported by a passionate leadership team, highly engaged members, and committed sponsors and partners. We continue to build a strong community among our members (primarily business professionals and professional drivers) who believe in and support our mission.

Milestone Trailer Leasing Sustainability

Fostering a Culture of Sustainability

Environmentally Conscious

Operating with sustainability in mind keeps Milestone at the forefront of the transportation industry. Going green makes sense – and cents – because shippers are looking for transportation providers that are committed to operating with a lower carbon footprint.

Environmental sustainability is not just the way of the future – it’s happening now and Milestone is staying ahead of the curve. We understand the merits of investing in the newest technology and equipment to transform our fleets.

In order to meet growing emissions standards nationwide (CARB, the California Air Resources Board, for example) our dry vans are fitted with aerodynamic and energy-efficient equipment compliant with all current regulations. Depending on our customers’ needs, we will fit our trailers with equipment including:

  • Low resistance tires
  • Side skirts
  • Spoilers fitted behind the back doors
  • Two panels on either side of a trailer; fitted across the top.

These systems can deliver 5 to 10 percent more fuel efficiency, depending on the configuration.

Reefers are fitted with state-of-the-art technology, such as forever filters. This is a new technology that won’t have to be continually updated and will make the refrigeration unit CARB compliant, essentially forever.

“We are continuing to invest in more and more equipment that is sustainable,” says Jason Pahules, Regional Sales Manager at Milestone Trailer Leasing. “Customers want it because it makes sense. For us, reduced fuel consumption is better for the bottom line. Lower CO2 emissions is better for the environment. A green supply chain drives everyone’s business. It’s a win-win-win.”

Greening up doesn’t have to be confusing or complicated. That’s why we make it as approachable as possible. The Milestone way starts at that first conversation with our customer.

“Our approach to customer service is all about that personal touch,” says Pahules. “We are intentional about providing unmatched personalized attention – it’s what sets us apart from the competition.”

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