It’s been tough sledding for the past couple of years, and most businesses, including that of trucking, have been in hunker down, belt tightening mode just trying to make it through to better times.
But while it’s still early days, there does seem to be some relief in sight. We can’t say the economy is booming, but it is improving; the stock market is gaining ground; year over year home prices have stabilized or increased in many areas of the country, and jobs are returning – all of which are good signs.
Most people that I speak to on the supply side of our industry report that requests for quotations are arriving once again and there are signs of sales picking up. I don’t think it is all bravado either – orders really are being placed.
If there is a ‘normal’ in the trucking industry, we may be on the way to returning to it.
And one of the aspects of normal is the recognized need for continuing education, the absolutely vital requirement to keep current with industry issues that affect operations. And I use the word ‘requirement’ intentionally. When it comes to trucking, arguably one of the most regulated of industries, there are so many things to stay on top of that it can become overwhelming, particularly for anyone trying to do so in isolation.
Anyone with an interest in keeping current has many sources of information available – more than you can count – and we each have our favourites. In our industry, trade publications do a very good job of monitoring and reporting on events and issues and have become the go-to source for many people. Those publications have the resources to dig out the details and employ talented staff writers to deliver the news.
Of course the Internet has become another valuable source of information and is often the first place to be considered when a prompt answer is needed.
Industry colleagues and suppliers are certainly helpful sources, particularly those with whom we have gained a level of confidence.
But rarely can information specific to your needs be located anywhere as quickly as it can by a telephone call to your industry association office, or through participation in your association’s events.
Industry associations are among the best sources of information and assistance for their members – that is a fact. They exist to look out for the interests of their members and that gives them a particular focus for their activities.
Association newsletters, Web sites, bulletins and other communications vehicles provide information specific to the needs of the industry segments they represent. In addition to the printed word, their seminars and conferences are designed to specifically address the needs of their market.
The annual conference of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada is one such event, designed for an audience with common interests. It is the focal point of the year for private carriers and suppliers of products and services to those carriers, two days packed with valuable information and networking opportunities.
This year (June 23-24) we return to the KingBridge Conference Centre, just north of the Toronto airport. The venue is outstanding and its amenities played a big part in the success of our 2010 conference.
But of course, it is not all about the venue. Every year participants go away from this conference praising its educational value and the opportunities it presents to meet with industry colleagues and share experiences.
Consider our seminar lineup for 2011. On day one, we will focus on fleet operations including our annual regulatory update where we expect to hear about the impact of Canadian and cross-border issues on private carriers; a report on fleet security with solid advice on how to protect your fleet and drivers; a discussion on the value proposition in driver training – how it can actually put money in your pocket; and a forum on everything new in vehicle safety systems along with a peek at what is under development.
Day two changes direction a little as we focus on the human resource issues of our industry. We will hear from the Canadian Trucking Human Resources Council on its valuable Human Resources Guide for the trucking industry and the in-depth research that CTHRC conducts; and one of our own members will describe its foray into fatigue monitoring of its drivers, an issue we all deal with every day.
Along the way of course we will be presenting the PMTC annual awards for private fleet safety, inducting some worthy individuals in to the Hall of Fame for Professional Drivers, and distributing the ever-popular vehicle graphics design awards. Follow it all at www.pmtc.ca
And some of the best news for those who would just like to put a ‘toe in the water’ is that you don’t need to be a PMTC member to attend. Of course we would like you to join, and many who come to the conference for the first time do just that, but our aim is to educate and for that reason we open the conference to everyone with an interest.
We’re in the information age…come on out and get some.