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November 10, 2015 | by admin
Industry Legends: Louis Eagle
Success is a family affair for the Eagle clan. Louis Eagle, president of The Eagle Leasing Co., makes that clear. Ask him about his accomplishments, and he'll tell you about his family. “My father came to America from Vilnius, Russia, in 1909,” Louis says of his father, Irving.
“He bounced around as a kid because he was on his own, then he joined the Navy during the World War I. He married my mother, then he took a job with the Strick Solid Tire Company working out of Philadelphia. “One day, he went to an auction with Mr. Strick, in Baltimore, and Mr. Strick bought the assets of Atco Trailer. This was around 1935, when the industry was in its infancy.”
As the trailer industry grew, so did the Eagle family's involvement. “In 1946, our family moved to Connecticut and my father sold Strick trailers, back in the day before deregulation,” says Louis. “My oldest brother, Alvin, sold trailers in Massachusetts, and my middle brother, Morty, also sold trailers. When I got out of the Army in 1963, I joined my father in selling Strick trailers for Eagle Commercial Trailers. My father and I then started The Eagle Leasing Company and began renting the trailers.
“I used to take postcards with pictures of our trailers and mail ‘em out - I got names from the Yellow Pages,” Louis says. “It was a time of 5-cent stamps, no ZIP codes, no Internet - the world was not what it is today. But I sent out these postcards, and before we knew it, we had about 100 customers. I used to do the billing myself.”
Soon, Louis and his dad built a shop. “I concentrated on selling trailers,” says Louis. “Both my brothers would take trailers on trade, Alvin working for Strick, and my other brother working for Gindy Trailers.” Soon, the company had built their repair shop and hired shop workers and their first office employee, a secretary.
“To fast forward, we covered Connecticut and New York,” Louis says.
“Morty came to the company and worked out of Massachusetts. Mark and David - Alvin's sons - joined the Massachusetts location as well. This year, David's son Michael became our fourth generation Eagle.” Matthew, Louis's son, works with the company as well.
Now, half of The Eagle Leasing Company is in Massachusetts, and half is in Connecticut. And it's become a bit more than a father-and-son operation “In the company today, we have 135 employees and 14,000 pieces of equipment, with three full-time repair shops.” Louis says.
Growing the business has been more than constructing physical locations.
“It's really a team effort to build up the company,” says Louis. “We originally started with semi-trailers, which we rented out. Then, the container business really took off in the late 70s ... it was a natural for us because we had the shop and we had the equipment. By 1979, our family accountant Maxwell Stock joined the company to assist in the growth of our business.
“There was a bottle bill that was passed in Connecticut for bottle returns and recycling. The demand for containers necessitated additional storage on site. Soon, customers were saying, ‘We see your containers everywhere,' and we trademarked the slogan, ‘You See Us Everywhere' and began decaling our trailers and containers.”
Being in the right place at the right time certainly didn't hurt. But Louis offers what has really helped his company flourish.
“One of the keys to our success is that we're hands-on,” he says. “We know the product; we know how to repair it. We keep good relations with our own employees, and at the end of the day, we're able to put the place to bed. We try to solve any problems as they come up.”
Louis also has words of wisdom based on his five decades in the business. “You've gotta be a dedicated employee,” he says. “You've got to come to work with the attitude to assist your people. Understand the marketplace and your customer's
needs. You've got to be hands-on and not dilute the company.
If you have a good year, you keep the profit in the company so you can grow it.”
That growth has been steady. “We've sustained growth - nothing dramatic over the years, but kind of a solid growth,” Louis says. That growth means profit sharing for employees Three Generations of the Eagles- many of whom have worked for Eagle for 25 to 35 years.
Louis acknowledges that passion has played a role in his company's success.
“You certainly have to understand the nuts and bolts and have a love for it,” he says.
“You don't know you have a love for it until you talk to other people and you realize they just don't get it. But that's why we appreciate being a part of the NPSA. We're able to share ideas and network with other companies in our industry. With Matthew Eagle as past chairman of the NPSA, he helped us in many ways with fresh ideas.”
And as for why his company now has its fourth generation Eagle? Well, Louis has some thoughts on that as well.“I think our enthusiasm for the business is contagious.”
November 10, 2015
November 10, 2015
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