November 4, 2018 8:00 PM, EST

Opinion: Get Involved to Build on Success in Industry

When I purchased Pottle’s Transportation from my father three decades ago, I had no idea the places the trucking industry would take me, including the chairmanship of American Trucking Associations.

It is indeed an honor — perhaps the greatest of my career — to be chosen by my fellow motor carriers as ATA chairman. It is humbling to be recognized by my peers — large and small — and asked to represent them and all they do.

It is important to our industry and this federation to have leaders from small carriers. Sometimes, ATA has been criticized from the outside for catering to larger companies — but those of us on the inside, those of us who have rolled up our sleeves and gotten involved and gotten to work solving big issues, we know better. ATA speaks for our entire industry, but that voice is only as powerful as those who choose to join the chorus.

Barry Pottle


Over the years, I’ve chosen to look beyond my family’s business and try to make our industry better, safer, more efficient, more environmentally responsible and a better provider of career paths for our young people and veterans. In short, I’ve tried to do my part by taking a seat at the table.

Whether as chairman of Truck PAC, on various ATA policy committees, as a chairman of the Maine Motor Transport Association and the Truckload Carriers Association, or by organizing and supporting Wreaths Across America, I’ve always believed that getting more involved with your industry is part and parcel of being a leader — not just in business, but in the community.

As ATA chairman, I’m going to challenge my fellow ATA members to get more involved in this great organization. ATA’s strength is its ability to marshal resources and solve big problems.

POTTLE PROFILE: Tracing his climb from cab to chairman's seat

Look back just two short years ago to ATA’s advocacy to convince Congress to restore some common sense to the hours-of-service rules. Or look back to last year at this time, when ATA was standing up for enforcing those same hours-of-service rules with an electronic logging device requirement. Or look at the headlines today, with ATA leading the charge for more sensible hours-of-service reform as well as one, single national standard for drivers’ meal and rest breaks.

At every step of the way, the hard work of ATA’s members and staff has led to continued success for our industry.

That’s why I want more of you to get more involved. Times are good for our industry; the economy is rolling, and with it our trucks. When the economy is healthy and our businesses are flourishing, that is the best time to take time to get engaged with ATA.

If you’re already an ATA member: Join a policy committee, encourage your employees to join an organization like ATA’s Technology & Maintenance Council or nominate a promising young executive to be part of the LEAD ATA program. You can also urge your drivers to compete in state-level driving competitions that lead to the National Truck Driving Championships, or support ATA image programs like Share the Road, America’s Road Team or Trucking Moves America Forward. The number of ways you can deepen your involvement in ATA are as diverse as the trucking industry itself.

If you aren’t yet a member of ATA, ask yourself — why not? Ask yourself where you and your company might be without the associations.

The strength of ATA has always been our diversity — small carriers and large fleets, truckload and less-than-truckload, national and regional, motor carriers and manufacturers — companies of all sizes and stripes coming together to solve problems and move our industry forward.

The wind is at our backs now — ATA has never been in a stronger position in Washington, with the ear of leaders in Congress and the White House, including a president who has repeatedly recognized our industry’s contributions to our strong economy. Now is the time to engage with your peers in trucking and set to work solving the challenges we will face in the future.

Whether it’s the shortage of skilled drivers and technicians our industry faces, or advancements in autonomous vehicles, there is no better time to take your seat at the table.

When I took over Pottle’s 35 years ago, we had just 11 trucks. Over time, we’ve grown, just as our entire industry has grown. Today, there are more than 180 trucks in our fleet, helping move the nearly 11 billion tons of freight trucks haul every year in our country.

There have been significant changes in our industry over that time: the creation of FMCSA, new rules and regulations, changes in the very foundations of trucking. Being part of ATA and taking my seat at the table has allowed me, in some small way, to shape those changes for the better for all of us.

I hope that my involvement in ATA can inspire you, no matter what size carrier you work for, to get engaged, to do more so that all of us can continue to build upon the success we’re experiencing today.

American Trucking Associations is the largest trade federation in the trucking industry and has headquarters in Arlington, Va., as well as affiliated associations in every state. ATA owns Transport Topics. Pottle also is CEO of Pottle’s Transportation, a truckload motor carrier based in Bangor, Maine.