BY MADELEINE MACCARWhen Spinning Wheels touched down in Raleigh, N.C., this April 4-6, it brought with it an agenda that embodied Moderator Arthur Messina’s mantra for his peer groups: Relationships, trust, and business.
One of the leadership groups of Driving Results, Spinning Wheels boasts 20 members from across the country who meet a few times a year to talk shop, brainstorm best practices, learn from industry associates and a range of outside experts alike, and unwind among good company at the end of the day—always among an intimate coterie of cohorts.
“You get these quiet conversations when you have only 20 people, so the owners and affiliate managers are making connections and finding that the small-group atmosphere really works for them,” Messina says. “If they can build relationships with other members and earn their trust, eventually they’ll even do business together, which is a plus.”
The meetings also give members a chance to visit with their peers in a variety of locations, allowing the travelers an up-close look at an annual array of markets while the hosts can show off their facilities, fleets, and employees during site visits. Locales are chosen based on members volunteering their business to serve as host sites; for this meeting, Scott Tyler of EcoStyle Transportation not only flung open his company doors for the rest of Spinning Wheels for a tour that included a down-home barbecue complete with a pig roast but also made sure that his peers benefited from EcoStyle’s ties to the nearby Umstead Hotel, the five-star property where members stayed and which accommodated the meeting’s educational components.
“What made this meeting really stand out was the relationship that Scott has with Umstead,” Messina says. “We had an impromptu addition to the agenda: The hotel’s general manager came in and did a full presentation for us that translated to ground transportation services very easily. He spoke about what he looks for in hiring the right people, what his interview process is about, and how he keeps employees motivated and striving for that five-star goal.”
Each day of the event featured at least one presentation exploring a relevant topic, as determined by feedback from previous meetings. Lee Edwards of Wells Fargo Financing explored the pros and cons of purchasing or leasing vehicles, and addressed the questions that arise from each option. CD Publisher Chris Weiss was also on hand for a Q&A about industry trends. And at the request of its other members, Spinning Wheels’ own Maurice Brewster of Mosaic Global Transportation also spoke, beginning his presentation one afternoon and finishing it up the next morning.
“A lot of the members know that Maurice is very good at closing accounts, so they asked him to do a presentation,” says Messina. “He took them through the whole process and the new ways of prospecting, since cold-calling doesn’t happen anymore.”
Another industry veteran—Carrie Peele, formerly of Blue Diamond Worldwide Transportation, which she had founded—capped off the speaker presentations with a much-needed reminder that there is life after building up a ground transportation operation, which Messina says that the group appreciated hearing.
“I wanted them to be aware that after all the work they do, they can sell this business, they can merge with somebody, they can be acquired by somebody,” he says. “There is life after this industry.”
Members carried on their own discussions, too, briefly comparing TNC woes, participating in the optional benchmarking group that kicks off the event, and simply catching up—since according to Messina, “the conversations never really stop, continuing on the buses on the way to the dinner or team-building event.”
The team-building component is a meeting mainstay, allowing members to put the serious dialogue on hold for a few hours in favor of an outing filled with camaraderie and laughter. The good times were rolling, indeed, with this meeting’s trip to the Time to Roll bowling alley, which Messina says gave everyone a fresh reminder that “we’re not all business, we’re also people.”
“When you’re spending all day in meetings, it’s important to get out,” he adds. “Team-building gets everyone to relax and have some fun—it’s just a relaxed atmosphere that gives them all a chance to let loose and see the other side of everyone.”
With the Raleigh meeting behind them, Spinning Wheels will be heading to San Francisco next from July 7-9 to visit with Mosaic Global Transportation, and then Desert Rose Worldwide Transportation in Phoenix from December 5-7. Visit drivingresults.org for more information. [CD0516]