NEW ORLEANS, La. — Truck dealers and fleet managers must work more closely together, according to American Trucking Associations chairman Philip Byrd, who spoke this weekend at the American Truck Dealers convention.
Byrd, who is CEO of Bulldog Hiway Express, called on dealers to be more responsive when addressing concerns about pricing, warranties and turnaround time for repair work. But he also said fleet managers and OEMs must move towards technical advances in fleet management (such as real-time driver behaviour monitoring for fleets) and vehicles (such as lane departure warning systems).
“If we can accomplish these things, we will be better positioned to move America’s freight and grow both industries,” he said.
While Byrd acknowledged fuel costs and driver recruitment will remain challenges, he said overall the outlook for motor carriers is positive.
“Currently trucks carry 68.5% of tonnage,” he said of America’s freight systems. “We project in 2024 trucks will carry 70% of tonnage.”
Also speaking at the event was Dick Witcher, outgoing chairman of the American truck Dealers.
He said dealers need to work with their political representatives to combat “regulatory burdens.”
“One of the continuing challenges in the months ahead will be advancing our agenda in Washington,” he said. “We have worked extensively with our elected officials to communicate our challenges and identify solutions. And in a time of a divisive Congress – and when regulators are eager to pass on new rules and regulations – we are called to protect your interests more than ever.”
“Our legislators need to understand what we need,” he added. “This starts with us inviting them to visit our dealerships and meet with our employees so they know who we are and what we do. It’s key in helping them to understand our business and use us as a resource before they make regulations that hurt our industry.”
Witcher, chief executive officer of Minuteman Trucks in Walpole, Mass., also warned dealers that the industry faces “serious regulatory overreach” that will ultimately make the job of dealers more difficult.
He cited regulations that are making the jobs of truck dealers more difficult, such as stricter federal emissions standards and fuel economy standards.
“We need to make sure that new fuel economy standards for trucks are not only good for the environment, but fair – and affordable – for the people who make them, sell them and drive them,” he said.