The transportation industry is filled with dynamic leaders – some who are well-known and many worth getting to know.
For those who haven’t met them yet, the time has come to meet and pay tribute to at least three of these hard-working professionals: Joe Chioda, general manager of logistics for Hollander International Storage and Moving; Stephen J. Barry Jr., chairman and founder of TWI; and Lisa Michele Chretien, founder and president of EventMover Inc.
In the backdrop of the evolving tradeshow industry, these transportation leaders kept up by not taking their responsibilities to their customers lightly. They continue to bring customer service to the forefront and have taught those working under them to do so too.
Hollander International’s one-man show: Joe Chioda
Since last March, Joe Chioda has been bringing his customer service mentality and consummate work ethic to his role as general manager of logistics for Hollander International, an agent for Mayflower Transit LLC and United Van Lines, which are part of the global relocation company UniGroup Worldwide Logistics.
“I’m old school as far as customer service; it’s a cradle-to-grave concept when working with a customer. You want to have an account and say you did everything you could to make the tradeshow go smoothly. It is a significant investment for the account,” he explained.
Handling the logistics of tradeshows as well as international, high-value products and commercial moves at Hollander, Chioda also spends time with the drivers, congratulating them on a job well done serving customers or reinforcing many of the service skills he picked up in his early years.
He started his career with an 11-year stint at Bekins Moving and Storage before moving to Allied Van Lines, starting up its Showcase Fleet. He also spent six years at a major independent, Tantara, before returning to the Bekins High-Value Products/Tradeshow Division for seven years until the division was phased out. At each organization, he learned what was needed to meet and, when possible, exceed customers’ expectations.
“My first show onsite was a plastics show at McCormick Place [with Bekins]. When we brought that show in, it had to be precise as the accounts for the next two years of business came from that show. I became part of the accounts team and was integral to the customer’s success,” he added.
At Bekins, Allied and Tantara, Chioda did it all, running the marshaling yard, making sure all drivers were checked in and focused on the mission as well as walking the floor to visit and coordinate booth teardown for clients, even if it was more than 75 booths!
“For the most part, you had to be a one-man show — trucks, the marshalling yard and show floor. Sometimes, it was an around-the-clock outbound. It can keep you on the clock for 30-plus hours. My record was 42 hours straight, and I am proud of it! Exceeding expectations!” said Chioda.
Educating those around him was naturally ingrained in Chioda since age 13. Originally wanting to work as a teacher or coach, his passion easily translated into a career in transportation.
“Teaching was my passion, and it spilled over into transportation. I’ve always trained the fleet. When I was with Allied Van Lines, we hand-selected the Showcase drivers and made sure they strived to exceed the customers’ expectations,” Chioda explained. “I paired newbies with senior drivers. I made sure I spent time with them, so they’d know they were important to the overall service aspect.”
Chioda entered the Van Lines side of transportation in the 1980s. The first show he worked was Radio Society of North America in Chicago’s McCormick Place, and he gained more experience at other shows since then.
“Transportation got under my skin and in my blood. You feel pride. When I was bringing 40 trailers to show and bringing it out, I felt satisfaction for a job well done. No damage occurred on the show floor. I’ve also done business development. There are a myriad of interesting aspects of the transportation industry,” he explained.
With transportation now firmly a part of Chioda, he set standards for himself that he brought back to Hollander International.
TWI Group’s international shipping pioneer: Stephen J. Barry Jr.
Now able to relax a bit as chairman of the board of directors, Stephen J. Barry Jr.’s career started full throttle after he founded TWI Group Inc. in 1973. The company immediately started its run that year with the Paris Air Show, bringing back memories for Barry.
“You didn’t have communications facilities. Everything was done by hand, teletype or phone. Nor did you have the ability to move around the site with golf carts; back then, it was move your feet,” he added. “In terms of customer service, at the Paris Air Show you couldn’t get anything to eat during set-up and teardown. We shipped food to exhibitors, our customers, to have bites to eat. We were also the first to serve Coors beer in 1975 because you couldn’t ship beer east of the Mississippi River.”
Barry’s ability to make his customers feel special and full, in the case of the Paris Air Show, is something his son, TWI Group President and CEO Steve Barry, admires about him.
“Dad’s biggest contribution was not to the transportation industry, but to the exhibition industry. Big Steve was a key player in defining, shaping and creating the standards of service and customer satisfaction that are still used today,” his son said. “Dad is a leader with great vision and persistence. This was not only necessary, but required as there was little to no infrastructure in the international exhibition transportation industry when he started.”
At TWI, Barry emphasized transporting one exhibit to another location without returning to the point of origin, which significantly reduced costs for his customers. He also led the way for shipping defense-oriented equipment.
“Defense-oriented equipment was already being shipped, but it wasn’t organized. The difference back then was [general] freight forwarders handling shipments. They weren’t necessarily oriented toward meeting all of the requirements for exhibitions. All the guidelines we established were oriented to exhibitions and movement out of the country or back to the point origin,” explained Barry.
Outside of TWI, Barry served as chairman and became a founding member of International Exhibition of Logistics Association (IELA), a professional organization for freight forwarders.
“I’m proud of being a founding IELA member. The purpose behind [IELA] was to get those shipping exhibits and those on the receiving end to be talking about the same thing, set standards and raise the standard of service,” he stated.
Barry started his transportation career as temporary personnel after being asked to put together a logistics package. He found he loved and enjoyed his work, and this translated into all that he accomplished. Barry received Exhibit Designers and Producers Association’s top honor, the Hazel Hays Award, and took home a Chairman’s Award from the International Association of Exhibitions and Events.
EventMover Inc.’s leading lady: Lisa Michele Chretien
Although there were other woman-owned transportation companies around when Lisa Michele Chretien founded and became president of EventMover Inc. in 2001, she decided to set herself apart by specializing in tradeshows and events.
“When I started EventMover, I had a client base. We are big with automotive and do a lot of auto shows. My first was probably the Detroit Auto Show,” Chretien said. “We’ve done big tours. We introduced the first Nissan Leaf in the U.S. on a 36-city tour. We introduced it to government agencies and school systems. It was very aggressive. We have also worked with an auto manufacturer who does 72 events in five-month period.”
Along with implementing large-scale transportation and logistics programs, Chretien centered her company on delivering outstanding customer service, and she is proud EventMover retains all clients as well as has low employee turnover.
“Once we get a client, we keep the client. We have a business development team who approaches corporate America, our target market, and they get us appointments with the right people, and we present our capabilities, move into what their needs are, and gather and build programs for them,” she explained. “Employee turnover is a small percentage. A leader keeps a great team together. We have vast knowledge and probably have 150 experienced people.”
Citing her biggest contributions to her company as being a passionate and determined leader, Chretien presides over a creative team she said is always coming up with new ideas to help clients.
“Our philosophy is transportation by design; we are designing based on what our clients’ needs are,” she added.
Chretien started her transportation career at EDC Bekins and Mayflower Transit LLC in the mid-80s, and then in 2000, she went to work for Atlas Van Lines before founding EventMover. Since then, Chretien grew her leadership skills, seeing the differences in how she operated back then versus currently.
“Coming from a sales background and starting EventMover, I did things differently. I tended to act quickly when I had an idea,” she stated. “We also use to do a lot of things manually, such as taking orders on the phone. EventMover now runs on a 3PL system. We made the big change in 2008.”
A third-party logistics or 3PL system tracks a shipment from its inception until its end, such as who created the shipment, everyone who touched or changed the shipment, the budget vs. actual cost, carrier insurance and invoicing. EventMover also kept up with changes in state regulations involving vehicles as well as the trend toward lighter exhibit material, which allowed exhibitors to save on drayage and transportation costs. The evolution of the transportation and exhibition industries as well as changes within EventMover kept Chretien fully committed to her role.
“Transportation involves a lot of attention to detail. Nothing is ever the same. This keeps it intriguing. Tradeshows are very expensive. The goal is to find ways to save money and to get the job done. This kept me in the niche. It’s very specific. It has driven us to success and has driven us because we are focused on the details,” Chretien said.
As she ensured her company reached corporate America, Chretien also worked to get EventMover certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), which bestowed her with the 2014 Women’s Business Enterprise Star award. In 2013, Women’s Business Enterprise Council – West named Chretien Advocate of the Year. That same year, she graduated from the Tuck-WBENC Executive Education Program at Dartmouth, after obtaining a full scholarship.