Ask Louis Eagle what’s the secret to 50 successful years in the trucking shipping container rental business as the president of Eagle Leasing and his response is simple, “Respect”. Respect for his employees, his customers and his suppliers may best define his business philosophy – one that has served him well as this family business celebrates the start of its fifth decade.
The Eagle Leasing sign has been a landmark on the Boston Post Road since the early 1970s, but it’s not until you venture down the long driveway leading to the property that the impressive scope of the Eagle operation is realized. The 25-acre parcel is home to several full-scale trucking garages and repair bays, office buildings, trucks and hundreds of storage trailers and containers, some empty, some full and leasing space on the Eagle site. The Orange site represents just half of the business. The company has two other locations in Southborough and Oxford, Massachusetts that is run by Louis’ nephews.
The shipping and storage containers, which range in size from about 10-50 feet, have a host of uses, ranging from facilities like medical offices and prisons renting them to store records; municipalities that lease them to store materials for annual events; or a lumber yard or construction site needing them for materials. Containers are also leased to transport goods, like scenery and equipment for Broadway and television productions or music concerts and casinos. “The list goes on and on, we do anything under the sun that’s temperature controlled,” Louis said. “One that stands out is a call from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute that needed a trailer for an expedition to the South Pole.”
As the fourth generation of Eagles continues the family’s legacy, Louis recalls the company’s beginnings which actually took root in the 1930s when his father, Irving, worked for Strick Solid Tire Company in Philadelphia. “One day my dad and Mr. Strick went to an auction in Baltimore where Mr. Strick purchased the assets to Atco Trailer,” Louis recounted. “The trailer industry was in its infancy then.” Over the next few decades, Strick grew to become the country’s largest trailer manufacturer. By the 1960s, Irving had relocated to Connecticut with his family and recruited all three of his sons, Louis, Alvin and Morty, to work for Strick Trailers, selling new trailers to trucking companies throughout the Northeast.
As Louis describes it, “corny as it sounds, there was no blueprint” to start Eagle Leasing, the company just naturally evolved. Instead of taking a sales commission, the Eagles were often offered the older trade-in trailers to keep for themselves, as Strick didn’t want them back. The men saw potential in leasing these trade-ins and eventually formed their own small fleet of trailers which they rented out to companies for storage. Their business took off, and in 1967 Louis and his father left Strick and formed The Eagle Leasing Co. The Orange location was purchased in 1971 and brothers Morty and Alvin opened two more Eagle Leasing facilities in Massachusetts. “Orange was a good fit for the business. Orange has always been a trucking and farming town. It’s a friendly town to do business in and located conveniently to all major routes,” Louis said.
The growth of the business may be described a bit like Louis himself, calm and steady. “It’s been one step at a time, nothing dramatic. We stayed with the market,” he said. Today the company has 134 employees and over 14,000 pieces of equipment for rent or sale. “We have 10 drivers on the road everyday picking up containers out of state and our own paint and repair shop,” Louis said. Containers are kept in tip top shape, routinely cleaned and painted between rentals. “We keep a clean shop,” he said. Now 77, he and his son, Matt, the company’s vice president, work side-by-side with many of the same employees who have been with the company for decades.
Renee Limosani of Orange came to work for Eagle Leasing when she was in high school and stayed for the next 35 years. “I’ve grown up here,” she said. “I do a little bit of everything. I started as a temp and then it became a full-time job. They are an awesome company to work for, we’re like family here. I’m rooted here from start to finish!”
Her sentiments were echoed by 12-year employee Lynn Hansell. “The employees’ longevity speaks volumes about this company,” she said.
And 90-year-old Irene Smith, who came to work for Louis 30 years ago, has no plans to retire anytime soon. “He’s a nice boss,” she said.
By Laura Fantarella – Orange Town News Correspondent