Stephanie Vadasz Randall – Milestone Equipment Holdings
- Written by: Mary Raitt Jordan
- Produced by: Liz Fallon & Emily Holden
- Est. reading time: 4 mins
Making a good thing even better is easier when you’ve done it before. Just ask Stephanie Randall.
When she joined Milestone Equipment Holdings more than four years ago, it was already one of the nation’s largest transportation equipment leasing companies. On top of that, the Missouri-based business was looking to expand its national footprint through organic growth and acquisitions.
To facilitate expansion, Milestone needed to establish consistent processes for managing the company’s contracts—especially with customer and transaction volume expected to increase. That’s where Randall came in. A transactional lawyer experienced in the infrastructure sector, she knew organizing and structuring the legal team would be imperative.
First, though, this meant establishing a legal department with policies and procedures. It would also involve implementing an organized document management system and establishing the framework for communicating with customers, vendors, and company departments—all while implementing technologies to carry out the work.
“Our team members need to know what to expect and who they can turn to,” Randall says.
Without question, technology is transforming the way Milestone conducts business and is setting the foundation for its legal operations, she says. By using the latest enterprise resource management and document management solutions, the company has become more efficient and reduced the time to execute a contract.
For Randall, contracts are one of the cornerstones of her department—required for everything from documenting the lease and rental of the company’s 95,000 units of transportation equipment (highway trailers, marine and domestic chassis and intermodal containers), to managing its vendor agreements and real estate, which includes more than 30 corporate offices and trailer leasing branches.
To support business development, she’s also implemented a click-accept for certain customer agreements, as well as a digital signature tool. “Having these capabilities has been extremely effective for us in our quest to scale efficiency in our contracting process,” Randall says.
In her role as corporate secretary, Randall implemented a web portal so board members and officers could communicate and meet more easily. Daily, she manages a six-person team focused on contract preparation, as well as managing customer and vendor insurance compliance and the customer loss-damage waiver program. This team includes another in-house attorney and a director of insurance and risk management.
In addition, Randall launched on-demand customer contract training sessions for Milestone’s commercial team. Topics include the customer contract review process and contract clauses.
“My team is focused on supporting our commercial and operations groups in the customer and vendor contracting process,” Randall says. “Although technology makes us more efficient and dynamic, we value taking a personalized approach with our customers and vendors since having a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t always work—but having a consistent process does.”
Joining Milestone in 2017, Randall says her experience was akin to one she encountered 21 years ago when she joined a start-up that was making its way in the Latin American and Caribbean telecom industry with the installation and operation of an undersea cable network. The focus now, just like back then, was on growth.
The basic tenets, regardless of the industry, are the same, Randall says. “Once you have built out a legal department and established basic workflow processes, you can replicate it anywhere.”
After graduating with a degree in political science and history at the University of Missouri in 1992—followed by a gap year that included backpacking through Europe and working on an archaeology dig in France, she obtained her J.D. from the university’s law school in 1996.
Randall cut her teeth as a Jackson County (Kansas City), Missouri prosecutor for two years before joining Sprint in 1998 where she supported the growth of its network real estate, including the procurement of terrestrial and submarine fiber-optic cable systems.
In 2000, she made the move in-house, joining what was then a start-up based in Miami that installed and operated a submarine fiber-optic cable network connecting the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean. There, she negotiated multimillion dollar, multinational commercial transactions in network infrastructure procurement and expansion of the company’s submarine and terrestrial networks.
Prior to coming to Milestone, she spent seven years as a senior attorney at Myles & Company, focused on mergers and acquisitions and financing transactions in the Latin America and the Caribbean telecom and broadband sectors. She also maintained a law practice offering legal counsel to telecommunications and technology service providers.
“Along the way you learn how to effectively communicate with and advise executive and business teams, which is rooted in a deep knowledge of your company’s or client’s business,” says Randall, who has worked with businesses and attorneys in more than 40 countries during her career.
That certainly held true when she joined Milestone in 2017. Her new leadership team relied on her to establish its first legal department. With a structure set in place, she then leveraged a network of external counsels in different areas and jurisdictions to save time and money.
“Setting up a legal department plays into my wheelhouse,” Randall says. “I knew what to do, and how the legal, insurance and contracts team should be organized to effectively support the company.”
But as with any plan for expansion, Randall says a legal leader must never lose sight of the customer experience and how the legal team supports the company and its team members.
“Those relationships are essential,” Randall says. “Getting there is a process that’s fun and challenging. Solving problems and navigating challenges along the way—both large and small, along with celebrating daily victories—are just as rewarding as finalizing larger transactions and initiatives.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Fall IV 2021 Edition here.
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