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October 18, 2021 12:30 PM, EDT

Perspective: Engagement Is Vital to Industry

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Last year at this time, I was taking over as chairman of American Trucking Associations in front of a few friends, colleagues and family in our maintenance facility in Findlay, Ohio, as we met for the first (and hopefully only) virtual Management Conference & Exhibition. Now, we will soon be gathering in person in Nashville, Tenn., to celebrate all that our industry does every day for our nation and our economy.

A lot can happen in just one year.

Since last October, we elected a new president and Congress — giving our federation a new landscape in Washington. We saw trucks, many of which belong to ATA members, move from delivering personal protective equipment, food and other essentials that helped get our country through the pandemic to delivering the vaccines that are helping move us into a strong recovery.

Garner Brumbaugh

Garner Brumbaugh

We’ve started to re-enter the world, starting in January when our executive committee met in Florida, and picking up this spring. It was so nice to be out on the road seeing my fellow truckers and hearing how much pride they have in the work they did under the hardest possible conditions, but also of today’s challenges.

The return to life as normal meant a return to concerns about the driver shortage, lawsuit abuse, infrastructure, safety, predatory towing and recovery, as well as myriad issues we face as an industry.

I got to see up close just how important it is to be engaged with the association, and as I turn the wheel over, I want that to be the message I leave you with: Engagement is key in moving our agenda and industry forward.

Whether that’s engagement as a member of a policy committee at ATA, or with one of our many conferences and councils, being present matters. You can engage on issues you care about, whether that’s working with Truckers Against Trafficking or TruckPAC.

It means pushing your staff to participate in the LEAD ATA program or encouraging your drivers to compete in the National Truck Driving Championships or to apply to become one of our America’s Road Team Captains. It means supporting our industry’s charitable efforts through the Trucking Cares Foundation, research work through the American Transportation Research Institute and trucking’s legal fights through the ATA Litigation Center.

And most of all, engaging means getting out there and telling trucking’s story — your company’s story. The biggest thing any of us can do to support ATA is to help promote trucking at schools, local chambers of commerce, in the media and with our local elected officials. Invite your elected official to your place of business. Get them up in your truck. Show them the safety technology you have invested in your trucks and share the many taxes you pay on that one truck annually.

Trucking is unique in our country because we truly make America go. There are trucks on the road in every city and town, delivering all that we need to keep our families safe, secure and healthy.

From some of the biggest companies in the world to the smallest owner-operator with one truck and a dream, this diverse industry has a place for everyone. My company, Garner Trucking, started as so many companies did, with one truck and a driver — and today we are proud to be a family business that operates more than 90 power units and 400 trailers. Our story is common in trucking, and with hard work and belief you can build something great.

I’m proud of what ATA has built and is building. We were tested by COVID, by political headwinds, the economy and hundreds of day-to-day challenges, but we’ve emerged stronger than ever. We have weathered these storms and I’m confident that as I hand the keys to my friend Harold Sumerford Jr., ATA will continue to grow and build on the success we’ve earned through our hard work and engagement.

You are your best asset. Take care of your health — physically, mentally and financially. Thank you for allowing me to represent you this past year.

Sherri Garner Brumbaugh is president and CEO of Findlay, Ohio-based Garner Trucking.

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