September 13, 2017 12:15 PM, EDT
ATA Revives Finance Council, Adds Staff to TMC

American Trucking Associations has hired tax attorney Jennifer Wieroniey to help revive its dormant National Accounting & Finance Council, an organization that once fielded a staff of 10 and was a potent voice on matters of interest to trucking finance officers, tax specialists and staff dedicated to credit and collections issues.

John Lynch, ATA’s senior vice president of federation relations and industry affairs, said the goal is to restore NAFC’s status as a stand-alone group with its own membership and dues structure, similar to the way the Technology & Maintenance Council and the Safety Management Council & Transportation Security Council operate within the Arlington, Va.-based trade association.

“NAFC was so influential,” Lynch said in an interview with Transport Topics on Sept. 12. “We want to bring back that expertise and for NAFC to be a resource for policymaking and advocacy on issues, such as tax reform and trade.”

In a separate move, TMC filled two key positions as it prepares to host its fall meeting in Orlando, Fla., Sept. 16-21.

Industry veteran and former ATA executive Jack Legler has joined TMC as technical director. Rachel Graber Akpotu, a graduate of Indiana University with a master’s degree in journalism, is the new information manager.

Legler succeeds TMC’s longtime technical director, Robert Braswell, who was promoted to executive director after the departure of Carl Kirk earlier this year. Akpotu succeeds Marsh Galloway, who retired from TMC in February.

Wieroniey, a native of College Park, Md., and graduate of the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University in Philadelphia, worked in the corporate finance department at Merrill Lynch before joining ATA in August.

She has since published the first edition of a new quarterly newsletter and is working to increase the number of advisory board members and re-establishing study groups on issues that include taxation, credit and collections, financial relations, accounting principles, risk management and information technology.

“We want to create a platform for people to talk to each other,” Wieroniey said. That could be a microsite on the ATA website, a regular series of webinars and a separate annual meeting in the late spring or early summer in 2018.

NAFC will offer educational sessions at ATA’s Management Conference & Exhibition next month in Orlando.

TMC’s Braswell said the addition of Legler will bring “a wealth of experience” to the group’s primary mission of developing and improving recommended practices for spec’ing and the proper maintenance of commercial vehicles and related equipment and electronic systems.

“This is a chance to use all my expertise and leave a legacy,” Legler said of the opportunity to work at TMC.

As a youngster in Pittsburgh, Legler said he got his first taste of trucking by working alongside his father, Cyril, a machinist who specialized in rebuilding diesel engines. His first paid job, however, was analyzing cargo claims for an insurance agency that later became a major contractor for the newly established National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Legler filed at least 12,000 reports on crashes involving trucks during his time at Corroon & Black, an insurance agency that became part of the London-based Willis Corroon Group in the 1990s.

After that, Legler set up self-insurance groups for a variety of transportation-related groups and worked with a waste management trade organization to establish the first industrywide performance standards. In 2001, Legler joined ATA and headed up Highway Watch, anti-terrorism organization.

Akpotu, who has experience working as a television production assistant and newspaper reporter in Indiana and Kentucky, said her duties at TMC will include production of the Trailblazer, a quarterly magazine, along with a monthly newsletter. She also wants to use the internet and social media to tell stories of the people in the industry.

“I love storytelling and writing,” Akpotu said.