Milestone Chassis Doug Hoehn Headshot

Meet Doug Hoehn

Meet Your Milestone

When Doug Hoehn joined Milestone in 2014, he was tasked with the duty of creating the company’s new Chassis division. In a short period of time and under his leadership, Milestone Chassis has grown to 7,000 chassis strong – all brand new, modern and premium – in 29 locations across the US.

The industry veteran (his career spans over 30 years in transportation) shares the most important ingredients in building a team, the biggest challenge facing the industry, and what accomplishments make him proud.

Professional Background

Tell us about your responsibilities as Executive Vice President of Chassis & Managed Assets at Milestone.

I’ve been involved in the startup for the Milestone Chassis business – the newest of the three product lines. In addition to staffing the organization, I’m responsible for sales, marketing and operations, as well as overseeing some of the operational responsibilities for our intermodal trailer and container business.

Beyond the Chassis group being responsible for managing and procuring our chassis and sites, they manage our peak program and ensure the delivery of trailers and containers. We run about 12,000 trailers for customers during peak season, as well as 3,000 domestic containers. Following peak season, we are responsible for storing the trailers during the year, making sure they are maintained, and then preparing them again to go out on the road for the next peak season.

Growth

You and your team built the Chassis division of Milestone. There’s been a lot of growth in this area of the company since its founding in 2015. What was involved in its creation?

It involved developing a strategy to implementing that strategy and putting inventory in 29 locations across the US. The fleet today is almost 7,000 chassis, all brand new, modern and premium, available for daily rentals, short term rentals and long-term lease.

There’s a lot of discussion around new vs. refurbished chassis. Why is this so important?

At the end of the day, a refurbished chassis is still an old chassis. I think of it this way – you can bring in a beat-up car to someone, get the dings hammered out, give it a nice paint job, and make it look shiny and new. But the reality is, it might still be falling apart on the inside. With an existing chassis, you can do the same thing, give it a paint job and put some new tires on, maybe replace some of the mechanical things like give it new brakes – which may or may not have ABS – maybe replace the lighting to bring that up to spec. And this is what a refurbished chassis is – it may look good on the outside but you really don’t know how reliable it will be when the rubber meets the road.

With a refurbished chassis, compared to new, your overall operating expenses will still be higher than a new piece of equipment, and it still lacks modern technology that we would insist be installed on our own personal vehicles. Over time, a new chassis will be cheaper to operate.

Leadership

Let’s talk about leadership. You’ve build a lot of teams over your career. What’s key in creating good synergy?

When you’re developing a team, of course you must recognize that everybody has different responsibilities, different skills and varying levels of training. Part of our job as leaders is to develop that team to be well-rounded and to grow together. One thing our team here in Burr Ridge (Illinois) will say, is that they all work hard and they play hard, and they do it together. I’m proud that we’ve nurtured that kind of culture.

Give us a recent example of your team working together and accomplishing a goal.

Getting all this equipment ready for peak season was top priority for a long time. The team worked tirelessly and around the clock. They found new vendors and managed and improved the process so we had the entire fleet ready. The deadline was Oct 1. But the team got everything ready by Sept 1. We were one month ahead of schedule. And that was possible because of the team working and delivering it together.

Goals

What achievements are you most proud of?

From a business standpoint, I’m proud of what we have built over the past two years. We took an established brand in the intermodal and over-the-road trailer business and added a third product line. On top of that, we also created an entirely new branding for Milestone.

On a personal level, I have two daughters and a son and I’m very proud of my family. I’m also proud of being a doting grandfather to 1 ½ year-old twin grandchildren.

Any goals for the coming year?

Yes, a personal goal: to get my golf score lower than my bowling score!

Separating Milestone From The Rest

One of the things that sets Milestone apart from the competition is its approach to customer service. How do you keep customer service personalized while also growing as a company?

One of the things we emphasize with our employees is that everyone who picks up the phone and talks to the customer is a sales person. There are all these adages about how it’s easier to lose one person as a customer than it is to gain that person as customer. Our team is always looking for new and innovative ways to help a customer. We genuinely want to provide flexibility. We pride ourselves in tailoring our solutions to provide a better product for our customers.

Challenges

What is the biggest challenge facing the industry today?

The biggest challenge for the chassis industry is the overall age and condition of the existing chassis fleet in the North American market today.

How is Milestone addressing those challenges?

It’s because of this challenge that we have invested in new equipment. The reality is, there is a very large portion of the fleet that operates that is old and outdated and needs to be replaced.

Why Milestone?

What do you like best about your job?

There is no single day that’s the same. Every day presents new challenges. I’m constantly working with people to develop new solutions. I travel tirelessly. I’m always on the road. I’m very rarely in the office. Some people might think this would be a negative, but I enjoy the people I meet along the way. People in the transportation industry are a pleasure to work with. Intermodal is truly multiple modes of transportation and providers, all working together to provide a service. It requires a lot of coordination across divisions and with people all around the world. It’s a very satisfying line of work.

 

 

 

Introducing Jean Calderon and Dave Janikowski

Meet Your Milestone

As Milestone continues to expand its footprint, serving customers in its growing network across 25+ cities nationwide, the company welcomes two new team members – Jean Calderon, Branch Operations Assistant in Romulus, Michigan and Dave Janikowski, Milwaukee Branch Manager.

Jean Calderon

Jean Calderon, Branch Operations Assistant, Romulus, MI

What are your roles and responsibilities at Milestone?

My duties are to assure the branch operates smoothly. Answer phones, open mail, sign for packages, attend to all PO requests (vendors to in-house mechanics) in a timely manner, assure all files are up to date with all proper paper work, from registrations to license plates. Keep all spreadsheets updated and entered properly. Assist in any area that is in need. And be an all-around team player!

Where were you before you joined Milestone?

I worked for an automotive financial company.

What do you look forward to contributing to the company?

I look forward to contributing my work ethic, bilingual skills, organizational skills and customer service skills to the company as a whole.

Why do you enjoy working in the transportation industry?

I enjoy automotive in general, whether it be automotive or transportation. I enjoy working with people. Meeting new people, helping out a customer or vendor in a pinch. Helping my co-workers, customers or vendors in any way that I can.

Milestone Is Committed to Hiring New Employees

Dave Janikowski, Branch Manager, Milwaukee WI

Tell us about your role at Milestone.

I am the new Branch Manager in the Milwaukee location.  I am responsible for the branch activity and making sure we grow our footprint up in this region.

Where were you before you joined Milestone?

I worked in the mortgage business for a little while and spent 16 years as a branch manager at a trailer dealership in Franklin, Wisconsin.

What do you look forward to bringing to the team?

I really look forward to bringing my drive and competitiveness. I strive to be the best and love competing. So the competitors be warned.

What do you like best about working in this industry?

You meet people from all walks of life, from the executive/owners all the way down to yard jockeys. It is great meeting and getting to know everyone. This is a relationship business as much as it is supply and demand. I am very excited to be a part of the team here and where this will take me.

 

 

Milestone FEMA Blog Post Featured Image

All Hands On Deck – Contributing to Hurricane Disaster Relief

Hurricane Season 2017

As hurricanes were making landfall in Texas and the Florida Keys, Sarah Johnson’s phone wouldn’t stop ringing. Disaster relief preparations were in motion and Milestone would play a crucial role in getting emergency goods to shelters and relief centers across the Southern US and the Eastern Seaboard.

“It was a mad scramble, but everybody was on deck to help,” says Johnson, Executive Vice President of Highway Operations. “Whether it was making phone calls around the clock, getting employees out in the field or giving up weekends and nights to make sure customers could access equipment – everyone played a crucial role in making all this happen. Which was pretty awesome. “

The Milestone team worked with carriers hauling for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deploy hundreds of trailers across the country (San Antonio, Houston, Atlanta, Tulsa, Memphis and York, Pennsylvania) to help deliver bottled water and other emergency supplies to evacuees.

In total, Milestone moved some 400 trailers in support of FEMA-related hurricane relief, which was one of the largest in scale the company participated in. Milestone is committed to serving communities around the nation, especially in times of extreme circumstances. This year’s hurricane season proved to be a true test for how local communities, states and the nation would come together to combat Mother Nature. Milestone is honored to have worked with FEMA to provide aid in the areas most affected and will continue to strive to be an industry leader in volunteering efforts.

Milestone Women In Trucking Recap Featured Image

Women in Trucking – Accelerate! Conference & Expo Recap

Women in Trucking

Women from all facets of the transportation and logistics industry gathered together for the Accelerate! Conference & Expo hosted by Women in Trucking. Held November 6th to 8th in Kansas City, Missouri, this year’s conference focused on how gender diversity can have a positive impact on a woman’s career and her company’s success.

The event, which also celebrated Women in Trucking’s 10th anniversary, drew more than 500 attendees from across the country. This made it the largest group ever for the organization.

“What a wonderful opportunity to gather with likeminded peers to discuss critical transportation issues and trends,” says Milestone Trailer Leasing Division Sales Executive Karen Novak, who attended the conference with Sarah Johnson, Executive Vice President of Highway Operations. “We were grateful to attend and represent the Milestone team.”

Accelerate! Conference & Expo

The three-day conference featured 30+ educational sessions. Topics ranged from speed mentoring and improving early stage driver turnover to creating happiness in the workplace and defining successful leadership. Attendees also had an opportunity to choose from four educational tracks: Leadership, Human Resources, Operations and Sales & Marketing.

The opening keynote address was given by author, screenwriter and attorney Valerie Alexander. Her presentation, “How Women Can Succeed in Trucking (Despite Having Female Brains),” examined a woman’s experience in the industry. It also provided practical tips on how to compete on a playing field designed by men.

Presentations

“Valerie is a dynamic speaker who dove into the basic reasons why women are great multitaskers, organizers and how we can take on multiple challenges,” says Novak. “Her presentation centered around ways women hold themselves back in the workplace and how to overcome that thought process.”

Novak herself participated as a sales coach/mentor and discussed her sales history followed by an informative Q&A. Topics discussed in her presentation included how to position yourself to grow with your company, recognizing when options for growth may not come in your current employment, and “must do’s” to promote yourself for higher opportunities (ex: dress, speak and behave professionally; know your topic better than anyone else in the room; take on projects that you can positively affect).

Conference Sessions

Some of the conference’s 30+ sessions offered included:

  • Steps Women Take to Become Successful Business Leaders
  • Best Practices in Female Driver Recruiting
  • Succeeding in a Male Dominated Industry
  • A Truck Tour (four different tractors were available to tour with a manufacturing rep available to discuss new innovations)
  • Elevating Your Game Through Personal Transformation
  • Tips to Eating Healthy on the Road

Several daily opportunities to network were available, including visiting vendor booths. Some vendors represented were:

In addition to the sessions, there were multiple speakers, networking lunches and evening receptions. The conference closed with drawings for vendor-provided prizes, the Woman of the Year Award (presented to Daphne Jefferson, Deputy Administrator, US Department of Transportation, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) and a final presentation by Valerie Alexander.

Mission of Women in Trucking

Founded in 2007 to encourage the employment of women in the trucking industry, Women in Trucking is a non-profit organization that works to educate and raise awareness for women’s issues. This includes promoting career opportunities, improving working conditions for women, increasing the number of women drivers, as well as serving as a resource about women working in the transportation and logistics industry.

“In just a few short years, Women in Trucking has made significant strides for women nationwide,” says Sarah Johnson. “It’s great to see the organization grow and continue to support women’s endeavors in this exciting industry.”

Photo courtesy of Women in Trucking

 

 

 

Milestone Blog Post Featured Lori Crider

Meet Lori Crider

Lori Crider is passionate about building relationships with customers. It’s what gets her excited about her role as Sales Manager of Milestone Trailer Leasing’s Dallas division. She shares why Milestone is the absolute best trailer leasing option and what’s key to growing and retaining customer relationships.

A Day in the Life

Tell us about your responsibilities as Sales Manager at Milestone Trailer Leasing. What does your typical day look like?

My focus has been to grow the Dallas market and maintain our existing customer base. Dallas is one of our newer locations (we opened last summer). It’s a growing market and it’s a great place to be in terms of the economy. Dallas also has an unusually high amount of competition.

Seeing how Dallas is a saturated market, how do you reach these customers?

I try to use all the different modes of marketing including phone calls, emails and personal visits. In this industry, you must be face-to-face with the customers and prospects which makes personal visits vitally important. I am involved in the Transportation Club of Dallas/Fort Worth and other industry networking events. You’ve got to be making those personal connections.

Accomplishments & Challenges

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Bringing on customers from my previous employer who sold their trailer leasing division and got out of the business. I’ve been in Dallas since 2010, so I had built up some business with other companies and past referrals.  It was exciting to get those customers to come over to Milestone.

What is the biggest challenge facing your industry today?

There’s a lot of on uncertainty with how the ELD mandates will affect the industry.

Why Milestone?

What things about your job get you excited?

We are absolutely the best trailer leasing option out there. So many of our competitors are letting their customers down. Since Dallas is a newer location, it’s fun getting our name out there. Part of what I’m doing is talking with people and making them aware of who we are and what we offer. It’s thrilling to know that our executive team responds promptly and appropriately plus the fact that we’re in 27 locations with over 40,000 units definitely gets the attention of our prospects.

What keeps you up at night?

I just want to see Milestone’s brand grow and excel in the North Texas market. I see it as an exciting thing as we keep moving forward.

Success Stories

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

We were able to use 15 of our storage trailers in the show, Queen of the South, which is on USA Network. Our trailers were used to simulate a loading dock in Galveston, TX.

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

I walked in at the right time to visit with a prospect. He said, “We have a problem. We need equipment and your competitor didn’t have a quote approved, so the costs actually came back higher but I signed the agreement anyway. I was also just told that they won’t be able to provide the trailers which we need in service within the next two weeks.” We ended up taking three 2009 model roll door trailers, ordered three new lift gates, got them installed and ready to go in a one-month period (from getting the right approvals through our executive team, lift gates ordered, installed and ready to go). The customer was impressed. This is a great example of  how quickly and effectively we can respond as a company to cover a unique need.

 

 

 

Milestone Trailer Leasing - Union Public School Marching Band

March On – Milestone Trailer Leasing Gives Back to Union Public Schools Band Program

Union Public Schools

In Tulsa, marching bands go big. Particularly at Union Public Schools, the eighth largest school district in the state of Oklahoma. Its band program (Union Bands) serves over 1,100 students in 6th through 12th grade. At the high school level, some 250 students participate in state, regional and national marching band competitions. This means unparalleled opportunities and experiences for the next generation of musicians and performers. The band travels a lot and needs to transport thousands of pieces of equipment, instruments, costumes, sets and props.

A Personal Touch

Union Bands found it difficult to meet its storage and transportation needs. They decided to reach out to Milestone for help. The Milestone team responded by donating a good condition 2000-year model, 53’ dry van that should meet the students’ needs wherever they go.

“This is a group of students who do quite a bit of traveling and needed a trailer, and we saw it as an opportunity to step in and help,” says John Friend, Branch Sales Manager at Milestone Trailer Leasing. “We were thrilled to donate a trailer to Union Bands. I’m very proud it was a team effort involving a few other people – risk officer Shelley Shannon, operations manager Jonna Voss, division president Jeff Alpert and Milestone CEO Don Clayton.”

A 10-time national finalist marching band, Union Bands is among the top marching bands in the US. Two years ago, they participated in a national band competition in St. Louis and won 2nd place. Last year, students performed at the Orlando Citrus Parade. They also performed at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City in 2013 – in front of 3 million people and a global television audience of 50 million+.

“To have this large school district in our backyard, where 70 percent of our customers’ children and grandchildren attend – it means a lot to be able to give back,” says Friend.

Milestone Trailer Leasing - Union Public School Marching Band

“We can’t overstate how grateful we are to accept the generosity of Milestone,” says Charles Pisarra, Director of Bands at Union Public Schools. “Our mission statement is to ‘Cultivate a culture of artistry, excellence and community. Milestone is a perfect example of the ‘community’ piece in our mission. A relationship like this helps us do what we do: to provide kids a world class experience.”

Milestone Gives Back: Our Recent Day of Service at Youth in Need Head Start Center

One of the greatest gifts we can give is our time.

We recently had an opportunity to volunteer as a corporate team at the Youth in Need Head Start Center in Wentzville, Missouri. More than a dozen team members from across our divisions joined forces on July 21 to work in classrooms with children and on various service projects around the facility.

“Volunteering is very important to us, it provides us an opportunity to work together on a personal level,” says Jennifer Schaefer, Executive Administration Assistant for Milestone Equipment Holdings. “It also gives us a chance to share our talents and skills in the community we live in. Giving back always feels good.”

Team members were all smiles working with the children. Carolyn Mueller and John Reitano enjoyed entertaining 2-year-olds on the outdoor playground. Chris Bachmann volunteered in the 3 to 5-year-old classroom. Patti McAlister and Sarah Mesnier loved getting to know the infants and toddlers.

“I love being able to work for a company that gives back to the community,” says Mesnier, Senior Financial Reporting Accountant for Milestone Equipment Holdings. “Helping kids in need is something that means a lot to me. My mom is a child abuse therapist, so growing up I had a lot of exposure to families and kids who had nothing. It was always very important for my family to give back in any way we could. Youth in Need is an amazing organization, and it was awesome to see everything the Head Start Center does. I had so much fun playing with the toddlers and I hope we can do it again soon!”

Founded in 1974 by community volunteers, Youth in Need offers service and support programs to over 12,000 children, teens and families across eastern Missouri. The organization provides services including education, counseling and support groups, and infant, child and family development at more than 40 sites in six counties.

“The staff at Milestone was a great help to the teachers in our facility – they volunteered in all three of our classrooms doing everything from reading to our preschoolers to helping with the infants, and at one point they were even dancing with the kids,” says Cody Finan, Community Engagement Coordinator at Youth in Need Head Start Center. “Their efforts go a long way in making a great connection in the community.”

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 80,000 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.”

 

American Shipper Highlights Milestone’s Addition of Charles Marsh

We continue to grow our team of experts nationally – welcome Charles Marsh!

From American Shipper:

Milestone Chassis has appointed Charles Marsh as West Coast regional sales manager. He will be based in Orange, California. Before joining Milestone, Marsh – a plus-20-year industry veteran – held management roles at Hub Group, Yusen Logistics and Mode Transportation.”

Read the full article here.

Press Release: Milestone Equipment Holdings Adds Don Clayton as Chief Financial Officer

ST. CHARLES, MO (September 12, 2016) – Milestone announces the addition of Don Clayton who joins the team as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Clayton will be based in St. Charles, MO and will report directly to Jordan Ayers, President and Chief Operating Officer.

“I am very excited to join the Milestone team,” says Clayton. “The team has built an outstanding business through its customer-centric, flexible approach to leasing. We will continue to make that our core mission, while building additional processes and controls to further scale the business. I see tremendous opportunities for growth and we will be prepared to capitalize on those opportunities.”

Clayton has 18 years of experience working in the industrial distribution and financial services industries, including eight years as Chief Financial Officer of a multi-billion-dollar nationwide distributor and seven years in the financial services audit practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He has extensive experience in strategic planning, financial reporting and internal controls. He has also played key roles on several acquisitions and capital market transactions.

“Don brings the experience and philosophy we want to take our organization to the next level,” says Ayers. “He has built world-class back office operations and has led numerous strategic transactions. Just as importantly, he shares our passion for customer service and our commitment to stay nimble and innovative as we grow.”

Clayton received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting from Southeast Missouri State University. He is a Certified Public Accountant.

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