DIEPPE, N.B. - It's been a long six months for members of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) since former executive director Ralph Boyd left his post, but after a lengthy search, the a...
DIEPPE, N.B. – It’s been a long six months for members of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) since former executive director Ralph Boyd left his post, but after a lengthy search, the association has finally named a successor.
Peter Nelson, an experienced consultant in the areas of policy development, government and public relations, advocacy and strategic communications, took up his new position on March 21 at the association’s head office in Dieppe, N.B.
“It was a fairly lengthy process (but) we are very pleased to have an individual of Peter’s calibre in place to lead our association into the future,” said APTA chairman, Vaughn Sturgeon. “The trucking industry is essential to economic development and progress in Atlantic Canada and we are confident that Peter has the background and expertise to raise the profile of our industry in this region of North America. He brings a lot to the table.”
Nelson, a native of Saint John, N.B. and graduate of UNB Fredericton, was senior vice-president with William Alexander and Associates for seven years before moving to independent consulting. He is also a former vice-chair of the board of trustees of the Atlantic Health Sciences Corporation.
Nelson has worked extensively with boards and executive committees and has acted as a government representative on various legislative and regulatory issues on behalf of corporations and associations in the health care, energy, agriculture, food processing, fisheries, environment, and construction industries.
Nelson first got wind of the APTA last fall after getting caught in the three-day protest which blocked sections of New Brunswick’s highways.
“Initially I thought, ‘My God, these people need help,’ but then I found out it was independents (not the APTA) who were doing the protesting,” Nelson told Truck News. But after looking at the APTA’s overall membership at large, and discovering it was in need of a new executive director, Nelson found himself intrigued.
“The APTA’s members are the ‘quintessential merchant adventurists’ – an old English term meaning entrepreneurs of the finest kind – and they’re out there doing their thing. And I thought, ‘There’s a group I’d like to work for,'” Nelson explains.
Soon after his encounter with the protest, Nelson starting making calls and set the wheels in motion for what would eventually lead him to the top position in the association.
Even with a limited background in trucking, Nelson says the diversity and depth of issues he’s dealt with in the past should allow him to adjust quickly.
“I’ve juggled 10 balls in the air in the past with several different clients at once, so it’s in my nature and my work ethic to be able to adjust fairly quickly,” he says. “I realize that the learning curve is fast in these situations – that’s not to say in 48 hours I’ll have it down pat – but I certainly expect to be up to speed fairly quickly and focusing on some of the major issues in the trucking industry, especially in Atlantic Canada if not national and international.”
Over the next several weeks, Nelson will also be attending local and regional events, including the next APTA board meeting.
“Right now I plan to travel the region and meet with as many members as I can meet. I’m hoping to hit all four provinces by the first of June.”
Overall, Nelson’s outlook for the industry is “good to great.” Recruitment and retention ranks high on his list of priorities, but he acknowledges that these are problems which span all of Atlantic Canada whether you’re recruiting truckers or nurses. But it’s the challenges which have Nelson the most excited about his new job.
“It’s an incredible challenge to come into an industry that is undergoing such change. It’s being impacted upon by so many forces; technology, regulatory issues, cross-border issues, again the recruitment and retention. It has a lot of demands on it,” he says. “It’s an incredibly challenging environment to come into with a group of people who have invested so much of their own time and money into realizing their dreams and goals, so in effect the APTA is a conduit for not just sharing those goals, but helping to realize them through working with the industry, working with the related industries and working with the government to keep the overall organization running smoothly, and to make sure that the owner’s issues are out there and known and addressed.”