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Uniting the Trucking Industry

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December 31, 2013 by Minuteman Trucks

By: Dick Witcher, CEO of Minuteman Trucks and Chairman of ATD
Source: Massachusetts Auto Dealer

Roughly three years ago, Kyle Treadway and I had (what has turned out being) a unique idea: regularly talking to other members of our industry at a policy roundtable. The idea resulted from traveling the halls of Congress bumping into other lobbyists and employees of manufacturers. It seemed silly to the two of us as we realized that all of us in the industry might be pitching contrary concepts to legislators. What was needed was something Washington drastically misses: talking to one another not at one another.

With the help of Patrick Calpin of the NADA/ATD legislative office, the first meeting of the policy roundtable was held in the old offices on First Street. About a dozen participants gathered for the initial tentative policy issues conversation. The truck manufacturers representatives attended but, they were closed mouth – I guess they thought they were giving away company secrets. The associations representatives, although much more open, didn’t grasp how an issue affecting one of them might have contrary impact on the members of other associations. For example: the Truck Rental and Leasing Association couldn’t understand why truck dealers might not want to take customer tax credits as a method to finance the purchase of natural gas fueled trucks.

It took a couple of meetings – for the first eighteen months trimester meetings were held, we are now comfortably at two meetings a year – before agendas were shared and added to by others. But, the concept is being widely embraced: at the December fifth meeting there were nearly 50 participants and thirty organizations in attendance or on the phone; it was the largest turnout ever. In less than three years our group has grown by four times.

The first topic of the December fifth meeting was: the joint industry program called “Trucking Moves America Forward.” The public relations firm of Story Partners presented the program, collateral material, and video to be used for the identity improving effort. Trucking has really taken a beating in Washington but is also roughed-up around the country and the image needs some shining! The American Trucking Associations with funding from others in the industry started a five year multi-million dollar annually public relations campaign to improve the industry’s image. The official kickoff will happen at the Mid America Truck Show in March of 2014. Take a look at the official website: www.truckingmovesamerica.com.

“The mission of Trucking Moves America Forward is to establish a long-term industry-wide movement to create a positive image for the industry, to ensure that policymakers and the public understand the importance of the trucking industry to the nation’s economy, and to build the political and grassroots support necessary to strengthen and grow the industry in the future.

Every day, millions of trucks travel across the United States to deliver help move America forward.

Whether you are a student, mother, homeowner, doctor, business executive or politician, you depend on trucks to deliver essential foods, medicines, office supplies, computers, cribs, and other products that help you live every day.

Most Americans don’t realize how essential trucks are to their lives until there is a severe weather or adverse condition that prevents trucks from delivering.

But the fact is trucks are critical to our national and global economy, to our families, to our businesses, and so much more. When they stop moving, the country stops moving.

By telling our story—educating the public and working with policymakers at the state and federal level—we can ensure that the trucking industry remains the thriving industry it is today.”

If you feel compelled to participate after visiting the site you can contribute to the effort.

Taxes were the second major topic! Comprehensive tax reform is not likely to become an active subject until mid-2014. But, when it starts lots of stuff will get thrown onto the table including: increases to federal excise tax on class 8 trucks, the repeal of IRS section 1031 like kind exchanges, LIFO, IRS section 179 Bonus depreciation, etc. etc. etc.

Several people in the room participated in the negotiations on Right to Repair and they gave their perspective to the events. R2R legislative efforts are taking place in many states and the issue seems to me likely to come alive again in Massachusetts.

The DOT, NTSB and FMCSA have been issuing a number of new regulations which are negatively impacting the industry and the strategies to address these issues were discussed by the American Trucking Association, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association. A strategic change in direction by some associations is filing suit against the federal government – nothing is getting through Congress – many have concluded the courts is the only viable route at this time.

I presented along with Doug Greenhaus, Director of Environmental and Safety Affairs for NADA/ATD, the results of our meeting with the EPA / NHTSA in regard to the drafting of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Regulations for Trucks. These new regulations are expected to issue for 2018.

Eight hundred words hardly describe all that took place at the roundtable session. If you want to know more give me a call at the dealership: 508.668.3112.

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