Gene Scoggins will officially retire as president of NationaLease this month, after a 37-year career in the transportation industry.
“I can assure you I haven’t had a boring minute in my life, especially since joining NationaLease in ’99 to build its national accounts program,” he said. NationaLease is one of the largest full-service truck leasing organizations in North America.
Over his impressive career – which began as an employee of NationaLease member Interstate NationaLease in Albany, GA – Scoggins said he has seen dramatic changes in the trucking industry. “The changes in technology have been amazing. I’ve seen it not only in the way we manufacture and maintain trucks, but from the data we’re able to gather electronically,” he said. “We know more about a truck in five minutes now than we would have known in five years just 25 years ago.”
Scoggins began his career after serving in the military in the Vietnam War. Upon returning home, he entered college with the intention of becoming a school teacher. Since he needed a part-time job while pursuing his studies, he took a job washing and fueling trucks at Interstate NationaLease. That fateful decision was what led him into the transportation industry, an industry he loves.
By the time Scoggins left Interstate NationaLease, he was vice president of sales. Even then, the prospect of working on national accounts enticed him.
“From there, I went to work in St. Louis with Gelco Leasing, where I got great experience in their national accounts program,” he said. He later spent 10 years with PacLease before finally landing at NationaLease. Over the years, he held positions that included rental manager, account manager, district manager, national account executive, vice president, and eventually president of NationaLease.
Although Scoggins is a long-time veteran of the transportation industry, he’s been quick to adopt the newest technology that’s come along. “Most of these changes have made our trucks better, our service better, and really, made our profits better. And frankly, I’ve embraced the new technology because those in the trucking industry who have not wouldn’t last very long,” he said.
When Scoggins was recruited to join NationaLease, he was hired to create a program that hadn’t existed before: a national accounts program. Until then, the owners of independent full-service trucking leasing companies in the network had pretty much operated regionally. But by the mid-’90s, the NationaLease board of directors saw a need for a national account program that wasn’t being met.
“When I was first approached by NationaLease, I wasn’t interested in changing jobs. But once NationaLease made it clear that they would make the necessary investment and give me all the support I would need, I couldn’t resist the challenge,” Scoggins explained.
Scoggins does have some parting advice to younger professionals in the transportation industry. He said that while the new technology and the data it generates are wonderful, it’s still absolutely essential for them to understand how a truck works and how it’s made.
“What I mean by that is how to spec a truck. There is no cookie-cutter answer when you go before a customer who has a special need. You need to get back to basics and take courses to understand the dynamics of the trucks. Then you can really understand what it takes to fill the need of a particular customer.
“You can run a computer analysis but it’s just as important to translate what that means from the customer’s point of view. So I say, take a course or two of on the basics of building a truck. You don’t need to be an expert, but at least enough about trucks to speak intelligently,” he said.
The resident of Tifton, GA, isn’t worried about being bored as he enters retirement. “I name the next part of my life, The Great Adventure. We’ll just have to see where that Great Adventure leads me,” he said.