John Kiss

Meet John Kiss

John Kiss enjoys getting creative, especially when it comes to architecting deals for Milestone customers. “If we need to build X number of equipment, we will place that customer-specific order, we are not restricted,” he says. “Because we are flexible, it makes us a premier provider.”

Kiss, who serves as Director of Midwest, Gulf and Western Regional Sales, shares about the benefits of new vs. refurbished chassis, how Milestone goes where its customers are, and why he has a-ha moments every day.

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND

Tell us about your responsibilities as Regional Sales Director at Milestone Chassis.

I oversee the sales activity for the Midwest, Gulf and West regions. A lot of my time is spent in assisting with strategy and transitioning accounts for our clients. I’m responsible for overall growth for both revenue and volume, along with handling some of my own accounts.

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

I enjoy providing new and flexible solutions for each customer and the challenges that brings.  We think “customer first” and try to put ourselves in their position to think about where we can provide benefit and value.

NEW VS. REFURBISHED

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

New equipment is built to the most updated standards and will always have components like anti-lock brakes, PSI and all the newest most modern technology.  Our chassis will always be built this way. When it comes to remanufactured, or refurbished, you are just doing that. You might get a new paint job and a few new things slapped on, like radial tires. But at the end of the day, it’s old.

At Milestone, we sell the total cost of operations of a brand-new chassis and we will share with customers what it costs to operate our equipment versus run of fleet or refurbished chassis. If you take our rates, combined with M&R expense for new chassis, versus rates for run of fleet or refurbished chassis and compare those two different costs, you will see a difference. If you look at the soft costs, time spent on the road, safety, keeping drivers happy, and listing those modern features, compared to the costs it takes to operate an older chassis – drivers being broke down by the side of the road and sheer lack of the modern equipment – once you stack those up, the argument becomes pretty compelling. It makes sense to use brand new premium chassis.

Has Milestone conducted studies on the benefits of using premium chassis vs. refurbished ones?

We have. We have done our own internal studies. There is also published data out there in terms of older pool chassis. You add those numbers together and you compare them, that’s what we drive home to customers. Our cost to operate a brand-new chassis is about .70 cents per day.

Compare that to $4-6 a day for standard run of fleet or refurbished equipment. Our customers know what to expect with Milestone. We are not changing specs on equipment. We will continue to build the most modern fleet. Nothing will be older than 2016.

FLEXIBILITY, CREATIVITY & GROWTH

Goals for the coming year in the Chassis Division?

Right now, we have 29 locations across the country. But we are looking at other locations where we need to have a presence. We’ve got a great network and great infrastructure in place. We can go to where our customers need us. The longer we do this, the more solutions we are able to offer. We’ve got the people in place with the experience; we’ve got the fleet in place to be flexible.

Are you looking at any other specific growth opportunities in other markets?

We see specific growth opportunity in multiple markets. It’s great that market conditions have dictated what people needed. The trucking community is getting more of a voice in the kind of equipment they want and need to use.

Your last a-ha moment?

Whether it’s location based or if it depends on the structure of the deal, we have a lot of those a-ha moments. These come from the discovery process and being able to provide customers with flexible, specific solutions. The company has the ability to architect deals to our specific customer’s needs. We have a-ha moments every day!

Volume of Milestone Chassis

East Coast Shippers: Milestone Has You Covered

Presence in NY/NJ

There are recent accounts that portray truckers as fatigued by the lack of access to quality chassis and rising cost of daily rentals. This creates an ever-challenging business climate for those moving freight out of the Ports of New York and New Jersey. Many are hoping that the talk of a new grey pool in this market will address issues and improve both quality and efficiency.

Doug Hoehn, Milestone Chassis Company Executive Vice President says: “Why Wait?” Milestone, the Nation’s most comprehensive intermodal equipment lessor – and operator of America’s fastest growing fleet of brand-new chassis – is making a massive investment in the New York and New Jersey area in order to continue to meet customer demand.

As highlighted in a recent American Journal of Transportation (AJOT) article, Milestone provides the best and newest equipment, which saves customers time and money.

You can read the full article here.

Jason Anderson Milestone ChassisFinder

Meet Jason Anderson

 

ChassisFinder

Innovation, opportunity and growth – it has been a phenomenal year for ChassisFinder. The online chassis reservation platform experienced record growth nationwide in 2017 with a stunning 50 percent increase in chassis on-hire during peak in 2017 versus peak in 2016. In addition, Milestone saw an unprecedented 612 percent increase during peak in 2017 versus peak in 2016. Responding to market demand, the company continues to open depots across the country, most recently in Southern California and the Greater Boston area.

And more exciting things are to come.

“We look forward to carrying this momentum into 2018,” says General Manager Jason Anderson. He shares the key to his team’s success, the biggest challenge facing the industry and what he looks forward to in the coming year.

Professional Background

Tell us about your role as General Manager of ChassisFinder.

My first responsibility is to approach equipment owners and let them know why they are at an advantage to put their chassis into the ChassisFinder system or pool. Secondly, I do a lot of work in continuous improvement of our platform. This year, there was an enormous effort put into the system to make the platform more flexible and dependable for our vendors. Thirdly, I engage in a lot of customer service. I get plenty of inquiries. Even when I’m on vacation, I take my cell phone with me. The fourth role and responsibility I have is building TrailerFinder. We’re planning the launch for Q1 2018 and always looking ahead for future opportunities for improvement.

Tell us more about the concept behind ChassisFinder. How does it work?

It was envisioned to be a “Hotels.com” for chassis. If you need a chassis and you need to shop by price, by quantity, by availability, you could find all those attributes for all the equipment you need.

Phenomenal Growth

ChassisFinder has experienced a tremendous amount of growth in 2017. What do you attribute that to?

Better autonomy. Consumer confidence and a strong retail sector this year. We’ve seen a general improvement in the economy across the economy. We have a lot of good people at Milestone that I work with on a daily basis and a strong commercial team to move ChassisFinder forward. They’ve made some very strong deals that were short term and were booked through ChassisFinder.

What are the advantages to an online booking portal?

Customers can book equipment in less than a minute, 24/7. It’s possible for them to pick up a chassis in a few minutes either coordinating with dispatch or making the reservation right from their phone.

Before ChassisFinder, what was the typical way to find a chassis?

The old way was calling someone, negotiating a price, getting approved, signing a contract and finally dispatching a driver. Now, the trucker could sit outside a gate, lease a chassis on their phone, and pick that up in a few minutes. Also, all of the equipment in ChassisFinder is practically brand new – that’s another advantage.

New vs. Refurbished

Let’s talk about the advantage of brand new equipment vs. refurbished. What are the pros of using new?

Old remanufactured equipment is still old. There is risk of older equipment failing. Whether I am the truck driver or the trucking company, I have too much at stake to risk my business or my reputation on an old remanufactured piece of equipment. Older equipment costs more to maintain and remanufactured chassis may not require modern safety amenities such as tire inflation or anti-lock brakes. With a brand new chassis, there is little to no M&R. Plus, you can’t put a cost on peace of mind.

What is the biggest challenge facing your industry today?

Not knowing what the steamship lines are going to do with their chassis. Best case scenario: they decide they don’t want to be the chassis business and ChassisFinder vendors reap those benefits.

Leadership

What’s required in building a good team?

Persistence, intelligence and industry knowledge. If you have a desire to work hard, constantly learn and foster new ideas, you will do very well in this business.

What’s the best thing about your job?

I like helping new customers understand what an asset ChassisFinder is for them. How it can change their business because they are not obligated to sign a term lease for a year or more.

It helps them be more agile. It boosts their business. I like helping new customers realize that and to help them to use ChassisFinder to transform the way they do business.

What’s Ahead

What does the future hold for ChassisFinder? What things are you excited about?

Our growth has been phenomenal in 2017. Moving forward, we need to add new vendors and bolster our customer base. It’s hard to tell what’s next for ChassisFinder since we change gears pretty fast. We’ll probably see more automation and back-office improvements. One thing is for sure, we are very excited about getting TrailerFinder online in 2018.

 

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.

 

 

 

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 Equipment Holdings Promotes Don Clayton to Chief Executive Officer

ST. CHARLES, MO (July 11, 2017) – Milestone is proud to announce that Don Clayton has been promoted to the role of President and Chief Executive Officer, and appointed to the Board of Directors. Clayton joined Milestone in August 2016 as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. Previously, Don served on the executive team of nationwide industrial distributor HD Supply Waterworks for 11 years, including eight years as Chief Financial Officer. He also served in the financial services practice of global professional services firm PwC for seven years.

“We are very pleased that Don will lead the Milestone organization into the future,” says Tom Juterbock, who represents Barings Alternative Investments on the Milestone Board of Directors. “Since joining Milestone, Don has worked closely with management and the Board to develop and execute the company’s strategic plan, while driving numerous initiatives that will allow the company to capitalize on future growth opportunities.”

“I am honored to continue serving Milestone in this new role,” says Clayton. “The transportation industry is constantly changing and Milestone is positioned to serve the market very effectively with our wide range of products, expert solutions and world-class customer service. We are driven to grow our business by making our customers more successful, while serving as an employer of choice in our industry. It is an exciting time to be part of the Milestone organization.”

 

About Milestone Equipment Holdings, LLC

Milestone is a full-service transportation equipment leasing and asset management company specializing in motor carrier equipment and rail industry intermodal assets including: Chassis, Domestic Containers, Flatbed Trailers, Highway Trailers, Intermodal Trailers (Piggybacks), and Refrigerated Containers and Trailers.

Headquartered in St. Charles, MO with regional offices in Chicago, IL and Kansas City, MO plus our nationwide branch network, Milestone has acquired intermodal and highway fleets for our operations since 1995, while managing and leasing equipment on behalf of institutional and private investors. Customers include Class I Railroads, Truckload Carriers, Less-Than-Truckload Carriers, Drayage Companies, Intermodal Marketing Companies, 3PL’s, Private Shippers, Barge Operators, and Shipping Lines. The Milestone fleet allows all of these industry segments to maximize equipment utilization and transportation efficiency without the burden of owning their own equipment.

Our management services include the origination and administration of leases, arranging debt and equity financing, operating and maintaining equipment in daily rental service, and administrating the returns of equipment portfolios.

Port of New York & New Jersey

The Port of NY/NJ to See Chassis Shortages, Milestone Chassis Customers Not Affected

Concerned about chassis shortages on the East Coast? You’re not alone. Many of our customers are setting plans in place to be sure that they’re ready to handle larger shipments following the first to pass under the Bayonne Bridge on June 26th.

When we speak with our customers, we’re glad to be able to tell them things will be business as usual. Milestone Chassis is very much so present on the East Coast and poised to seamlessly assist customers with our modern fleet.

Journal of CommerceAs highlighted in a recent JOC article by Hugh Morley, Doug Hoehn, EVP of Milestone Chassis Co., offered assurance. In addition to our own chassis offering, he confirms that we are indeed interested in joining either the Flexi-Van/DCLI or Metro Pool. Milestone’s goal remains to offer a new, modern alternative to the aging equipment that competitors are offering.

JOC subscribers can read the full article here. Be sure to sign up to reserve your chassis in advance of this development here.

Milestone Chassis – Prepared to Serve In Light of Shipping Alliance Reformation

Here at Milestone Chassis, we strive to keep customers informed. It is particularly important now, in our changing business climate.

In a recent article, the Hellenic Shipping News detailed what they and others have described as “The Big Bang of 2017,” referencing the merger of several of the largest ocean carriers.

In the article, David J. Arsenault, president of Logistics Transformation Solutions and former president of Hyundai Merchant Marine America, appears. He spoke about the issue at a “Learning from Hanjin” panel on Feb. 28 at the Journal of Commerce’s TPM 2017 Conference at the Long Beach Convention Center. He predicts that we will begin seeing larger vessels at U.S. ports:

“…That’s going to certainly start to contribute to challenges with terminals, with trucks, with chassis and all the stakeholders that are there until things get resettled.”

*The full article is available here.

In short there are many ways to combat congestion and delay – not least of which is Milestone’s commitment to adding more new chassis and intermodal equipment into the pools in markets like Los Angeles and Long Beach. Sign up to receive daily West Coast Inventory Alerts from Milestone Chassis to keep your business moving!

Daily Milestone/HTA Inventory Email Sign Up

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Milestone Chassis – Staying Ahead of “Warning Signals” in Los Angeles & Long Beach

In an article last week, JOC flagged “warning signals” mounting at LA-LB terminals during the current, post-Chinese New Year decrease in imports.

Weston LaBar, Executive Director of the Harbor Trucking Association, offered thoughts on ways to address the issue including:Harbor Trucking Association

  • Discontinuing storage at marine terminals.
  • Offering storage of chassis at designated yards throughout the harbor area.
  • On-site pre-inspections and repairs, where necessary.
*The full article is available to JOC subscribers here.

In short there are many ways to combat congestion and delay – not least of which is Milestone’s commitment to adding more new chassis and intermodal equipment into the pools in these markets. Sign up to receive daily West Coast Inventory Alerts from Milestone Chassis to keep your business moving!

Daily Milestone/HTA Inventory Email Sign Up

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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.”

collage

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.”

 

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