As it hits 40 years old this year, PacLease says it’s ready to help fleets transition to technologies such as electric and autonomous trucks.
The full-service truck rental and leasing company got its start in 1980, at the time of deregulation in the trucking industry, with 17 locations. Today it has nearly 40,000 trucks in 570 locations throughout five countries.
“Deregulation was a big disrupter in the industry, and it created more demand from private fleets who wanted to have control of their operations,” said PacLease President Ken Roemer in an announcement. “PacLease fit right in with transportation solutions. The timing for our launch was great.”
Through the years, the company has continued to add locations throughout the United States and Canada – now having over 450 locations. PacLease began expanding services in other countries beginning in Mexico in 1996, Germany in 2007 and Australia in 2015.
We followed up with Roemer to learn more about how leasing has changed in the past 40 years.
HDT: What is the company’s biggest “win” in the last 40 years?
Roemer: I firmly believe it’s how our customers have gravitated to the quality products and service we offer, and the benefits they can gain by leasing with PacLease.
When we started, it was with a handful of franchises. We offered premium Kenworth and Peterbilt products that could be custom-spec’d for our customers’ exact requirements. That was a departure in the leasing industry, where most of our competitors buy in bulk and then try to match the equipment with the customer. We didn’t want to do the cookie-cutter approach, and that was a point of differentiation…that was the “win” for us.
HDT: How has leasing changed since PacLease started in 1980?
Roemer: Over the years, we’ve seen incredible advances in technology, and with that, customers who traditionally have had their own brick-and-mortar shops and technicians, understand that it might be more cost-effective to outsource their maintenance. That’s moved a big segment of the market, especially private fleets, into full-service leasing.
Today, another big benefit of a full-service leasing is how leasing companies can take advantage of remote diagnostics. Trucks tell us ‘what’s happening’ prior to their arrival in the shop – this allows us to triage trucks in advance to get repairs done quickly, saving valuable drive time.
What’s more, we’ve seen how the ability to custom spec our trucks has made an impact in developing new markets – we’ve been able to reach new customers in new vocations – which has been a big benefit for PacLease.
From a finance standpoint, leasing has changed a bit over the years, but the main driver that has accelerated leasing has been capital retention. Companies that want to expand view leasing as a way to conserve funds, and free credit lines with banks. With what’s happening now, that’s pretty important.
HDT: How has the industry changed since deregulation?
Roemer: Deregulation was a big industry disrupter when we launched PacLease in 1980. It ultimately created more leasing demand from private fleets that wanted to have more control of their operations. PacLease fit right in with transportation solutions.
The biggest change has been the need for equipment that is ultra-reliable. Just-in-time deliveries, coupled with shorter delivery windows, have become the norm, so downtime isn’t acceptable. It’s why many decide to lease trucks today – service networks can keep trucks on the road and put the onus of uptime back on the leasing company.
We feel PacLease is at an advantage with our excellent Kenworth and Peterbilt products and the franchise network that stands behind them. Over the years, we’ve developed programs and best practices in maintenance for our franchises.
Plus, many of our franchises utilize mobile service vehicles to ensure maximum uptime for our customers.
Leasing has always been a service business, so we, and full-service leasing as a whole, keeps our customers front and center. We know if our customers succeed, we’ll succeed.
HDT: How did the COVID-19 outbreak affect your communication with your locations around the world?
Roemer: We haven’t missed a beat – we have the tools to communicate with our team, PacLease locations and our customers. Even working remotely for many of us has been a smooth transition.
While the current environment is challenging, we know our industry and PacLease will emerge stronger. Paccar has been around for 115 years, and PacLease is in its 40th year. We’re in this for the long run, and it’s how we view our relationships with our franchises and customers. We look at the long-term and how we can work collectively together to succeed.
HDT: What makes you the most proud when you think of PacLease?
Roemer: In full-service leasing, you need great equipment, backed by excellent service. But, first and foremost it’s a people business, and you need a great team to succeed. I am so proud of the PacLease team. The quality, passion and dedication of our people is what makes me so excited. And it’s not only our team, but also each and every one of our PacLease franchises. They are at the front lines every day bringing best-in-class service to our customers. I truly believe our success has been built around understanding our customers and wanting to make a positive impact on their business needs. We have a customer-for-life mentality – once they try PacLease, we think they’ll stay with PacLease.
HDT: Where is PacLease and leasing headed over the next 40 years?
Roemer: Leasing will continue to grow – much of it due to rapid technology changes that make maintenance more challenging.
We will be seeing electric trucks, as well as autonomous trucks, down the road. And predictive maintenance will be the norm based on all the data coming from trucks. Technology is coming fast and hard. What role will full-service leasing play in all of this? I think quite a bit, and we’ll be ready for it. Our customers want the unknown to be the known. And, that’s the beauty of leasing and what we do.