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!

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 - 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!

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 – 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!

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IANA 2016 Vinyls

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

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

milestone-chassis-for-web-20160817-v02

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

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

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

 

The Hanjin Effect: Equipment Shortages & How Milestone is Here to Help

In response to the Hanjin Shipping bankruptcy, Milestone continues to offer an expansive fleet to minimize disruption for customers. Please find the latest news regarding this matter below.

An excerpt from Reuters:

By Jim Christie, Lisa Richwine and Tom Hals

The bankruptcy of Korea’s Hanjin Shipping Co Ltd (117930.KS) is causing ripple effects for importers bringing goods from Asian factories to U.S. malls by creating a shortage of trailers to move ocean-shipping containers on U.S. roads.

The world’s seventh-largest container carrier has more than 500,000 containers, and many already are clogging up ports and truck yards, tying up trailers that cannot be used to handle other cargo. That is beginning to worry freight handlers at U.S. West Coast ports and is the first sign of knock-on effects from the failure of Hanjin.

The problem stems from Hanjin’s shortage of cash, which has stranded $14 billion of cargo owned by companies such as HP Inc (HPQ.N), Home Shopping Network (HSNI.O) and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS). Much of the cargo is on more than 100 ships at sea because cargo handlers, tug operators and ports are refusing to work with Hanjin unless they get paid up front.

A lawyer for the shipper did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Terminal operators in the California ports of Long Beach and Oakland are not taking back empty containers. Many in the industry doubt Hanjin will pay storage costs, and a growing number of empty containers and the trailers they sit on are stranded.

“If it’s not fixed in the next couple of weeks, I think you’ll see a huge ripple effect across the industry,” said Weston LaBar, executive director for the Harbor Trucking Association in Long Beach, California.

LaBar said there are thousands of Hanjin containers on trailers out of circulation, and the uncertainty surrounding Hanjin appears to be pushing truckers to lock in trailers from his organization’s pool.

“We doubled in bookings this morning,” LaBar said. “We have availability, but we’re getting to the point where we may be leased out for our chassis.”

Shipping executives said there is ample supply of shipping containers, but trailers are limited. The West Coast ports previously have experienced brief shortages even when the stream of trade is functioning normally.

The Hanjin collapse has exacerbated the problem.

Read the full article here or request a quote here.