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Mike Riccio discussed his goals as the newest chairman of the Transportation Intermediaries Association during the 2021 TIA Capitol Ideas Conference on May 12. The virtual event ran May 11-13.
“I think it goes without saying that 2020 was a very challenging and unique year,” said Riccio, who also is chief marketing officer at Leonard’s Express. “I can tell you that the TIA was not immune to those challenges. Those of us on the executive committee could not have dreamed of or made up the circumstances and unique challenges that we faced.”
He added that the challenges helped highlight what true leadership looked like. He pointed to interim CEO Doug Clark and previous Chairman Brian Evans for helping the association navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Riccio noted that when a decision needed to be made, they would ask how it would impact members and the association.
“Furthermore, I’d like to thank Brian Evans for not only his wisdom and integrity, but really more importantly for his friendship,” Riccio said. “You set the bar, man. I’ll do my best to achieve the standards that you set.”
TIA Chairman Mike Riccio (TIA2021)
Riccio then highlighted networking, political advocacy, culture and relationships as his areas of focus. He noted the membership’s diversity, so the question becomes how does the association create value for them with their different needs and challenges. He added that an initial step will be to hold meetings in which carriers of similar sizes can network and talk with association leaders.
“The next area I want to focus on for you is advocacy,” Riccio said. “We want to be at the table. So there are two ways that you can get involved. The first way you can get involved is to come to our Fly In this September. And it’s going to be in person, thank goodness. I understand that coming to the Fly In can be a little intimidating and can be a little overwhelming.”
We want to be at the table.
Chairman Mike Riccio, on advocating for TIA's members
The TIA Capitol Hill Fly In events happen annually and allow association members to network, talk with lawmakers and attend policy briefings. Riccio noted he was a little intimated during his first trip to Washington, but he quickly found he was able to get his voice heard.
“The second way that you can get involved is to donate money,” Riccio said. “I don’t like to ask about money. No one likes to ask about money. But let’s be honest; D.C. revolves around money, and you need money to survive.”
Riccio then discussed culture. He believes that the association needs to focus on inclusivity and integrity. He added that he had calls with members who expressed concern that the association has lost focus on its mission and vision — instead becoming too focused on the bottom line and money.
He said the leadership is looking to change that.
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“Over the course of the next two years, I will be placing a couple of phone calls a week to our members,” Riccio said. “One of the goals is to learn about your business. To understand what are some of your challenges, what are your, some of your needs. How do we take that and put that into the association and find solutions for them?
But I also want your feedback on what we’re doing well and should continue and amplify, and what are we not doing well.”
Riccio also identified relationships as a key point of focus. He noted that the association will continue its efforts to build strong ties with the shipper community, carriers and with members.
“We need each other,” Riccio said. “If a carrier is not profitable and successful, then we’re not profitable and we’re not successful. We need to improve our relationships with our carriers. We need to get them to understand that we’re not a hurdle to jump over to get to shippers, but that we are an integral part of their overall business.”
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