Special Coverage



ATRI Top Issues, Spear State of the Industry Lead MCE Agenda

Management Conference & Exhibition Is Oct. 14-17 in Austin, Texas
MCE 2022
The exhibit hall opens at MCE 2022 in San Diego. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]

American Trucking Associations’ annual Management Conference & Exhibition in Austin will showcase insight, perspective and analysis meant to boost appreciation and understanding about the industry.

Taking place Oct. 14-17 at the Austin Convention Center in Texas, the event’s theme is: “The Rhythm of Change: Navigating the Future of Trucking.”

“Trucking is evolving. From new regulations and emerging technologies to political and economic uncertainties, our industry must adapt to change. We’ll focus on trucking’s top concerns and the path forward for your business,” according to ATA.

In fact, MCE again will serve as the venue for the American Transportation Research Institute’s annual issues presentation. The research group will announce the results of its 2023 Top Industry Issues Survey, which relies on stakeholders’ ranking of issues of concern. Rebecca Brewster, the group’s president and chief operating officer, will break down the survey’s results during a panel discussion.

Chris Spear

ATA President Chris Spear gives the State of the Industry address at MCE 2022. (John  Sommers II for Transport Topics)

Top executives have expressed their support for the survey. “The annual Top Industry Issues Survey has long been a crucial part of understanding the challenges facing our country’s supply chain,” ATA Chairman Dan Van Alstine, Ruan Transportation Management Systems president and COO, said earlier this year. “ATRI’s research provides an opportunity for thousands of trucking industry professionals, from drivers to executives, to weigh in on the most important topics that affect trucking and collectively decide on the best strategies for addressing each.”

ATA said, “Each year ATRI’s Big Reveal is one of the most popular sessions at MCE where attendees will learn the final results of the annual Top Industry Issues Survey. From workforce shortages to environmental mandates to a lack of truck parking, there is no shortage of challenges facing the trucking industry and ATRI’s annual survey allows industry stakeholders to rank how impactful these issues are to the industry. ATRI President Rebecca Brewster will count down the 2023 issues from 10 to 1, with reactions to each from the motor carrier perspective and from a professional truck driver.”

A variety of other informational workshops and panels will deliver updates regarding supply chain concerns as well as comprehensive research for answering big economic questions.

Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist, will lead a panel titled, “Economic and Freight Market Trends.” The lecture “will provide attendees with an in-depth update on the economy and the trucking freight market. He will highlight the most important economic trends for truck freight, as well as trends in the labor market. Bob will also provide economic forecasts for 2024 and beyond. He will then turn to the freight market and highlight the most important demand and supply developments,” according to background from event organizers. “Expect to see new and insightful economic and industry data during this session that will help motor carriers and industry suppliers alike make better business decisions.”

Notably, the annual conference also serves as the forum for the highly anticipated State of the Industry address. The in-depth update from ATA President Chris Spear is a forward-looking examination about the themes and trends shaping the nation’s freight network.

During his keynote address, Spear is expected to highlight the impact the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is having on industry priorities. The $1.2 trillion bipartisan law is credited with backing recent investments for truck parking facilities nationwide.

“Our federal government has got to give [drivers] the tools — they’ve got to give them the parking spaces needed to comply with federal law,” Spear recently told Transport Topics. “We’re really carrying that message on Capitol Hill. We’ve seen some successes in Tennessee, Florida, Louisiana, Texas. We’re also seeing movement to add parking in South Dakota and Wyoming. If you do not have a place to park your equipment, you’re going to spend a lot of time and money at the driver’s expense looking for that place to park and comply with the hours-of-service regulations; 98% of drivers say they’ve experienced this.”

Spear also will update attendees on the federation’s work ranging from workforce matters to economic conditions. For instance, the ATA leader will point to the federation’s drive to convince Congress to eliminate the 12% excise tax on the purchase of new trucks: “If you were to put newer equipment that is available right now on the lot out on the roads, you would have a dramatic impact not just on safety but on the environment as well.” Legislation introduced in the House and Senate specific to the excise tax’s repeal has yet to advance to the White House for enactment.

A session moderated by Transport Topics’ Seth Clevenger is titled, “Improve Fleet Performance & Mitigate Risk by Shifting to Predictive Maintenance.” ATA’s description of the panel stated: “Fleets spend billions of dollars every year manually managing the health of tires. The negative impacts of fleet tire underinflation are felt organizationally — from the C-suite to their drivers. Asset utilization and uptime, tire and fuel expenditures, driver satisfaction and retention, maintenance efficiency, sustainability commitments and overall fleet safety is all negatively impacted by tire underinflation.”

Molly Fletcher


Also, ATA will host pioneering sports agent Molly Fletcher for an event that will serve as an update of ATA’s Women in Motion program. “The purpose of Women in Motion is to promote and support the advancement of women in the trucking industry by providing access to robust training, mentorship and networking programs, advocating for policies and practices that create a level playing field for women in the industry, and fostering communication and collaboration among women and their allies,” according to ATA. “The program seeks to address the gender gap in the trucking industry by empowering women to pursue and succeed in all aspects of trucking, from driving to management, and to ensure that they are treated with respect and equity in the workplace. By creating a strong community of women and allies in the industry, the program aims to foster a more diverse and inclusive trucking industry that benefits everyone.”

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing above or go here for more info

Other speakers at the conference will include Bill Sullivan, ATA’s executive vice president for advocacy; Brenda Neville, president and CEO, Iowa Motor Truck Association; Chris Shimoda, senior vice president of government affairs, California Trucking Association; Dean Key, professional truck driver, Ruan Transportation and America’s Road Team Captain; Kendra Hems, president, Trucking Association of New York; Terence Lei, director, product management, Solera; and Umberto De Pretto, secretary general, International Road Transport Union.

Dan Ronan contributed to this report.