Some of the greatest challenges a business owner faces can also feel like the loneliest — setting the direction for the business, navigating changes in the external environment, and preparing to leave the business to the next generation of leadership are emotionally, mentally daunting tasks.

Which is why Aileron exists — to equip business owners and leaders with the skills and tools they need to navigate these challenges, and to make the journey less lonely.

As Cheeseman Trucking CEO Ed Zumstein put it, Aileron is a “safe haven” where he can go to talk to competent people about the most challenging problems he is facing in his role as a business owner.

Cheeseman Trucking | Aileron

Ed has worked with Aileron since its inception more than 25 years ago. Throughout the years, Ed has leaned on professional management to guide him through making difficult decisions and navigating changes to keep his business thriving.

Consciously and confidently navigating change

As a business owner, it’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day operations of the business, and in Ed’s business — transportation and supply chain solutions — there’s never a shortage of in-the-weeds distractions that can get in the way of leading the business.

Throughout his tenure with Aileron, Ed has felt confident bringing the challenges he’s facing to Aileron to help him adjust his work and his mindset as he aims to focus on in his role as a business owner.

“Aileron is the place I come to help me solve problems.”

Ed has leaned on Aileron as he’s led his company through major milestones, like merging two companies and navigating the 2008 recession and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Most recently with COVID — as well as how to get out of the COVID mentality going forward — Aileron helped me practice different ways of thinking about how to recruit and retain our people, which is instrumental in making sure that we bring our people along with the company as we mature.”

Harnessing values to make an impact — and retain team members

The vision, mission, and values of a company are more than just words on paper. They are guiding principles that should guide every area of the business. As Ed’s organization evolved, he knew having these strategic guardrails would be vital for success. For this work, Ed collaborated with Cheesman’s Vice President of Safety and Human Resources, Sara Evers.

Cheeseman Trucking | Aileron

“If we kept the same vision, mission, and values that we had 20 years ago, we would not be able to retain our employees — a lot has changed in the trucking industry over the past 20 years. And throughout the years and doing the work on the vision, mission, and values, we have learned that being flexible and listening to your employees goes a long way,” said Sara.

By focusing on the organization’s mission and vision, Sara and Ed landed on the following four values that guide Cheeseman’s culture and decisions: family first, safety, flexibility, and sustainability.

“The values all balance each other out. For example, while we want to prioritize family and flexibility for employees, we still need to maintain sustainability to ensure they we stay in business and provide jobs. We communicate these values to our employees regularly, and we have seen improvements in retention as a result,” says Sara.

Succession: Growing a leadership team for the future

Ed is preparing for succession, and as a business owner, the work of transitioning the business is an ongoing process that will continue even after he steps away. One of the key lessons Ed has learned in approaching this milestone is that it’s not just about finding the right person to take over the business, but more so building a strong team that can continue to grow and evolve the business in the years to come.

He’s put this learning into practice as he’s brought his leadership team to Aileron with him — and he’s seen that pay off ten-fold as he’s watched his team grow.

“It’s not about Ed Zumstein and Ed Zumstein’s way. I’ve gotten my top-notch executive people involved in making strategic decisions, and it’s helped me step back, enjoy the benefit of the Aileron experience, and watch my people grow into even better leaders.”

By adapting to change, aligning around a clear set of values, and preparing for succession, Cheeseman is well-positioned to continue thriving in the years to come. And for Ed, the Aileron experience has been a critical part of his journey as a business owner and leader.

“Aileron helps me be fluid. It’s not how you did it 20 years ago, or what’s in a decade-old textbook. It’s about what’s happening today. And not only today, but what’s on the horizon for the future.”

We’re shining the spotlight on our community and sharing the stories of our members. Are you interested in sharing your Aileron journey? Reach out to us.

Grow Yourself to Grow Your Business

Are you ready to step into the mindset of a CEO but don’t know where to start? Discovery is a free, 45-minute, one-on-one conversation with an Aileron coach to discover what’s possible and leave with a clear path forward.