I have been back from the annual convention of Truckload Carriers Association now for a few weeks and have had time to soak in all that I experienced. If memory treats me right I haven’t missed a convention now for about 20 years, these events are truly the highlight of the year for me in trucking and a great way to start the year.
When I attend any function as a trucking executive my goal was always the same, I had to bring value back to my company that I felt was equal to or preferably exceeded the cost of my trip to the event and time away from the office, if I couldn’t there was no reason for me to attend that particular function again. It is all great and lofty to say that you are giving back to the industry when you belong to an organization and that is true to an extent, but in the long run over extended period and years of membership dues it had better be a give and take relationship because giving back to the industry is important but nothing is more important than black ink on a company’s bottom line. Without that nothing else survives and all the good wishes in the world and good deeds will mean squat when the bailiff is at the door.
The TCA membership and the quality of information and contacts gained from attendance at events has always been an easy payback of time and money spent for me. This year was no exception the quality of the round table sessions was first rate, the general sessions were well attended and had valuable information and insight from Anne Ferraro the head of FMCSA talking about CSA along with an update of all the pending rule making that is about to descend on truckers to a panel sponsored by ATBS of truckers Kevin Knight of Knight Transportation, Robert Lowe of Prime Inc or Richard Stocking President and COO of Swift Transportation moderated by Todd Amen. Throw in with this the entertainment including one of my favourites the honourable Mr. Dan Baker along with the numerous awards that are an intricate part of the program and Kudos to all the Canadian winners of the most prestigious award given by the association the National Fleet Safety Awards, most notably Bison Transport in the large fleet division and Brian Kurtz Trucking Ltd In the small fleet division. There is no shortage of Canadian content at a TCA event and most recently you have been able to identify many of the Canadians easily buy the glass trophies they were carrying.
For me and for the majority of people attending this annual event the most value is gained through the networking opportunities. Numerous surveys have been done over the years by TCA leadership including during my tenure as an officer and time after time the feedback received by membership is that networking is the number one value ad proposition gained from a TCA membership. Because of this feedback, networking opportunities are enhanced at the trade show at the annual event, most round tables are ran by truckers for truckers all committee meetings are open to everyone and everyone is encouraged to participate, during the gala awards dinner, new members are indentified by a special badge and experienced members are encourage to make new folks feel welcome and not just at the new members breakfast but also during the entire event.
Most recently I have been attending the event from the allied trades prospective through ATBS and Transrep a new project I have taken on with my partner Kim Richardson where we provide sales and marketing focus to service and products that we feel are best in class. One of my goals in attending this year’s event was to bring back to Canada an addition to our offerings. I was able to do just that when I was introduced to a couple gentlemen from Gig Harbour, Washington State, and their service, which is called JOBehaviors. This is a new internet based service that tests a drivers or prospective driver’s aptitude towards safety and loyalty. It takes about 10-15 minutes and gives the carrier back a one to five star ranking on the individual within seconds. As many of you know I have been looking for such a tool for years, this is the future and it will become a standard tool for recruiters in North America over the next few years, thanks TCA!
You will have to forgive me if I gush a little over TCA, I believe strongly in their approach to their membership; they prize them, coddle them and try their best to ensure that they stay focused on the value proposition to them, carriers and trades alike. It is always enjoyable for me to talk to a new member from the allied trades as inevitably they are in shock at the respect and accessibility they are granted at TCA. This type of treatment is usually reserved for all but the biggest most generous givers through other associations where usually a smaller vendor is looked on as being expendable and as such they’re not usually given voice on direction or input into the association and its governance.
Wrap all this up in a venue such as the San Diego convention center some great weather and a libation or two with some old friends and I think that you can understand why I am such a fan of TCA. If you are a carrier big or small looking for a place to find educational value for any position in your company or are looking for a place to stay on top of the latest proposed rulemaking effecting trucking, TCA is the greatest value for association dollars you will spend. If you are a vendor looking to gain access to the truckload sector carrier base in North America and want to have full access to those folks TCA is the greatest value for your membership dollars you will spend.
Mark your calendars folks March 4 to the 7th Gaylord Palms Orland Florida for the 2012 TCA annual convention.
Past Chairman TCA
Mr. Ray Haight has enjoyed a successful career in transportation starting as a company driver and Owner Operator logging over one million accident free miles prior to starting his own company. After stepping down from a successful career managing one of Canada’s 50 largest trucking companies, Ray focused on industry involvement including terms as Chairman of each of the following, the Truckload Carriers Association, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, North American Training and Management Institute and the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities voluntary apprenticeship of Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver, along with many other business interests, he enjoys a successful consulting business, also sitting on various Boards of both industry associations a private motor carriers. He is also Co-Founder of StakUp O/A TCAinGauge an online bench marking service designed to assist trucking companies throughout North America focus on efficiency and profitability within their operations. All posts by Ray Haight