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ORLANDO, Fla. — The inaugural annual meeting of the Moving & Storage Conference of American Trucking Associations honored a longtime leader in the sector, and featured a look ahead at how all transportation fleets can deal with the ongoing shortage of truck drivers.
At the March 8 kickoff event of the ATA Moving & Storage Conference Annual Meeting, H. Daniel McCollister of McCollister’s Transportation Group Inc. was honored with a lifetime achievement award for devoting his career to the industry. McCollister, chairman emeritus at UniGroup, shared his gratitude with colleagues and peers.
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“The truth of the matter is I love this industry,” he said. “I’ve been blessed to be able to work in this industry my entire life. This is the only thing I have ever wanted to do. My son said it best, ‘Most people aspire to be whatever they aspire to be. This is all you ever wanted to do.’ And this is it.”
McCollister added, “I love the people. I love everything about this industry. I’ve been blessed to work with great folks whether they worked with me day-to-day, shoulder-to-shoulder, or the folks I interacted with in this industry. If you look around and look at each other, you guys are solid citizens. We work hard every day to do what we do. It’s an honest way to make a living. It’s a hard way to make a living.”
McCollister added, “I always say, there’s never an easy day in the moving business. We’re all good people designed to go out and do the best we possibly can for the people that we serve.”
Strategies for tackling workforce challenges across the industry were also outlined at the event by Nick Geale, American Trucking Associations vice president of workforce policy. He emphasized federal programs aimed at facilitating workforce opportunities in trucking and throughout the freight sector.
He urged executives at the meeting to continue to promote benefits and potential for growth across all aspects of commercial transportation. Doing so would reinforce recruitment and retention efforts. ATA estimates the industry is short about 80,000 commercial drivers.
“Eighty-thousand we’re short of what we need right now across the board in the trucking industry. Some portion of that are you guys and what you need as well. And that’s projected to get even bigger,” Geale said March 8. “This is not a U.S. problem. This is an international problem.”
He pointed to provisions approved in a $1 trillion federal infrastructure law as potential sources of workforce growth for trucking firms. The provisions included an apprenticeship for truckers younger than 21 to drive interstate, a women-in-trucking outreach program and a truck-leasing task force.
Further advertising the industry’s benefits to the public is deeply needed. He suggested that more individuals be exposed to the opportunities freight and moving companies are able to offer.
“We’ve got to do a better job of that,” he told the executives. “[The U.S. Department of Transportation] has a public service announcement program that they’re supposed to get up and running.”
He also cited the Biden administration’s trucking action plan meant to boost workforce efforts in trucking. An ATA partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor centers on workforce enhancements.
Daniel McCollister (center) of McCollister’s Transportation Group Inc. receives his lifetime achievement award from MSC Chairperson David Marx (left) and executive committee member Jack Griffin. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)
This month, an agreement was formally established at the Labor Department to make ATA an official Registered Apprenticeship sponsor. A 90-day apprenticeship challenge from the administration is meant to recruit employers interested in developing Registered Apprenticeship programs designed to provide paid, on-the-job training. As he put it, “ATA’s new program is a competency-based program, meaning you have to basically demonstrate entry-level driver training compliance.”
Following the conference, MSC and ATA executives touted the success of the first-ever event.
“Congratulations to all of our attendees for making MSC Annual 2022 such an outstanding success,” said MSC Chairman David Marx, president of New World Van Lines. “In such a short amount of time, we’ve watched this conference grow from the ground up into the leading association for America’s vital moving and storage industry.”
“We are particularly enthused by the high turnout of independent moving companies who have found a home in ATA’s Moving & Storage Conference,” said ATA Chairman Harold Sumerford Jr., CEO of J&M Tank Lines Inc. “This event reflected the growing strength of this conference and the powerful platform it provides its members as we advocate on behalf of the industry.”
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