I learned today the business start-up stories of several expedite motor carrier owners and chiefs. Learned by attending a reception with dozens of them and asking them to tell me their story.
Diane and I woke up this morning in our Florida vacation house where we plan to stay until mid-February. We got down here in early January and might have returned to the road sooner but the Sylectus Annual Conference 2012 was scheduled nearby and I wanted to attend.
This is a carrier event and I am not a carrier. I am attending as a reporter for a trucking magazine. The participants seem glad to have me here and are being very generous with their time and information.
My first and only scheduled interview was set for 30 minutes this afternoon and lasted 50. That company CEO took it upon himself to introduce me around the room at the evening reception. The room was filled with carrier owners and chiefs. Every one of them was happy to tell me his story about how his company got started and why his company uses Sylectus products.
The people I talked to operate expedite carriers ranging in size from 10 to 300 trucks. Each of them has access to about 10,000 trucks through Sylectus. I spent three hours moving from one CEO (president, owner) to another keeping my mouth shut, ears open and digital voice recorder running.
The attendees brought a lot of energy into the room. It was a loud and fast-paced event as they got free drinks at the bar stand and worked the hotel meeting room. They are bright-eyed, intelligent, focused people; networking with each other — not like there is no tomorrow — but like there will be a great tomorrow.
I’ll be writing more about this in an upcoming article(s) so I’ll stop here for now. We touched on many topics. It will take many hours to review my notes and recorded conversations to work what I learned into a readable piece(s).
• The conference site is the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, Fla. (Orlando). It is a spectacular place and a tourist destination in itself, but staying here puts me outside of my comfort zone. I’m not the kind of guy who pays $16 for two eggs for breakfast. Even if someone gave me an expense allowance of $1,000 a day, I’d still have a hard time paying eight dollars each for eggs.
A much larger conference is going on here too. It’s called The World Money Show (moneyshow.com). Investment companies are sending in their top guns to speak. Thousands of investors are coming to listen.
I was a stockbroker and financial planner for eleven years in a previous career. I used to attend events like this. As I watched hundreds of money show people arrive in limousines and move about the hotel, dining, drinking and dining, I realized that eight years as a trucker has changed me.
My vocabulary has shifted to using more words with fewer syllables. No longer trying to build a client base and professional network, my mind is not as sharply tuned into what large numbers of people are thinking, saying and doing.
My fashion sense has gone to sleep. When I saw the investment company folks dressed to the nines, it dawned on me that I don’t own a single business suit any more. On the road, a nice polo shirt and khaki slacks from Kohl’s is about as high-end as it gets.
Diane and I left white-collar careers and got into trucking partly to simplify our lives. It worked and we are enjoying it, but it also means that our minds are differently engaged and different skills are being used. I don’t want to return to white-collar work. It was just interesting this evening to see in stark relief what I left behind.