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October 18, 2021 1:30 PM, EDT

ATA’s Signature Conference Touts Workforce

MCE Also Spotlights Supply Chain
Workers set up the stage in the main MCE Exhibit Hall Workers literally "set the stage" for MCE 2021 in Nashville on Saturday. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

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American Trucking Associations’ annual Management Conference & Exhibition returns as an in-person meeting this year, providing trucking leaders with a forum to discuss pressing industry issues in a moment when moving goods efficiently across the country has never been in sharper focus.

“There’s an incredible amount of excitement leading into this year's MCE in Nashville," said ATA President Chris Spear. "While we have had several in-person industry meetings this year, MCE is truly trucking’s signature event — a time for us to gather and celebrate this industry that has consistently gotten the job done in the face of tremendous obstacles. And after a challenging year for our country, this MCE promises to be a truly memorable event.”

The conference is scheduled to be held Oct. 23-26 at Music City Center in Nashville. While MCE was held virtually last year due to the pandemic, thousands are expected for this year’s return to an in-person setting.

The event provides attendees aiming to improve and thrive in the post-pandemic era an opportunity to share actionable information. Panel sessions on this year’s agenda will tackle ongoing freight issues amplified by the pandemic, including expert discussion of strategies for returning supply chains to normalcy as well as policy prescriptions for facilitating the movement of goods.

Headlining the conference will be Spear’s annual “State of the Industry” keynote speech, considered a guiding message for decision-makers. By reviewing the American response to the pandemic and offering an economic outlook for the months ahead, Spear will present an essential, forward-looking road map for trucking to follow. To complement his message, Spear will highlight the industry’s accomplishments, and a vision for policies designed to elevate workforce contributions.

Chris Spear

Spear speaks during the 2020 MCE virtual session. (Transport Topics)

“Trucking drives our economy’s growth and our nation’s success, and I look forward to welcoming our community together to reconnect and plan for the future,” he said.

A session that captures the urgency of the moment is titled, “Supply Chain Resiliency: Addressing Capacity and Intermodal Challenges.” Shelley Simpson of J.B. Hunt will moderate. Panelists will include Spear, John Butler of the World Shipping Council, and Ian Jefferies with the Association of American Railroads.

Growing concerns at commercial ports prompted President Joe Biden’s administration to establish a task force to alleviate bottlenecks along last-mile corridors. Spear attended a White House meeting during which stakeholders — including some motor carriers — pledged their support.

“Over the past year, the trucking industry played a vital role in keeping the supply chain moving, from providing hospitals and pharmacies with medical supplies and vaccines, to keeping grocery stores stocked with food and essentials. We’ll celebrate these successes and accomplishments, while planning for the road ahead,” according to ATA.

Bob Costello


Additionally, attendees will have an opportunity to hear from ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello for a panel titled, “Trucking Today and in 2022: A 360 Degree View.” Costello will be joined by Cari Baylor of Baylor Trucking, Shameek Konar of Pilot Flying J and Jeffrey Pape of U.S. Bank.

ATA Chairwoman Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, president and CEO of Garner Trucking Inc. of Findlay, Ohio, observed: “Every year, MCE is a highlight on the trucking calendar. It is such a pleasure to be planning to gather with my fellow ATA members this October in the Music City.”

Also at the event will be the American Transportation Research Institute, or ATRI, which is scheduled to announce the results of its 2021 Top Industry Issues Survey. The annual survey, which ATRI has conducted for 17 years, asks trucking industry stakeholders to rank their top issues of concern for the industry, as well as the potential solutions for addressing them. During a panel discussion, experts will discuss the results of this year’s survey, focusing on each issue on a top 10 ranked list. Rebecca Brewster, the group’s president and COO, will headline the announcement.

Truck PAC will host a reception, demographer and author Ken Gronbach will headline a lecture, and the exhibit hall promises to be packed with the latest technology and gear to help motor carriers keep their businesses moving forward.

As ATA put it, “MCE brings together the best minds in trucking to exchange ideas, gain information for timely policy committees and sessions, learn about new products and services in the interactive exhibit hall, and network face-to-face with the best in the industry.”

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