TCA Tackles Trucking Challenges, Opportunities

John Culp Introduced as New Chairman at Annual Meeting
Dave Williams, John Culp
Outgoing Truckload Carriers Association chairman Dave Williams (left) and incoming chairman John Culp. (Truckload Carriers Association)

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The Truckload Carriers Association tackled the challenges and opportunities facing trucking while also recognizing industry leaders during its annual meeting.

The 2024 TCA Annual Convention was held in Nashville March 23-26. The event included panel discussions led by carriers, awards recognizing the hard work of individuals in the industry and the introduction of the new association chairman for the coming year. It also included keynote speeches from demographer Ken Gronbach and investor Kevin O’Leary.

“We had a phenomenal meeting. Even with the challenges that are currently confronting the motor carrier industry, there was a lot of really good energy,” TCA President Jim Ward told Transport Topics. “We had a great lineup of panels with motor carriers, all different sizes, speaking about current challenges and opportunities in the industry.”

The convention kicked off with a panel of larger carriers led by Joey Hogan from Covenant Logistics Group. The panelists included Schneider National CEO Mark Rourke, Mullen Group Chairman Murray Mullen and KLLM Transport Services CEO Jim Richards.

Dave Williams, Rence Oliphant

Dave Williams gives the Chairman’s Choice Award to Rence Oliphant, vice president of global sales at Hendrickson. (Truckload Carriers Association)

“They certainly were very open with the group, and Joey did a great job facilitating a conversation with them,” Ward said. “The next day we had, what I would call a midsize or small carrier panel, that I also thought went equally as well. Jon Coca, who’s on our leadership line as well, from Diamond Transport, he facilitated that group.”

Ward said a big takeaway from the event was that everyone is fighting the same battle with the industry dealing with a down cycle that has suppressed rates.

“They’re all confronted with the same challenges currently in the marketplace,” Ward said. “Most like to think that maybe we’re bouncing along the bottom right now. But market conditions, with a lot of capacity still available based upon the demand, have been a real challenge for a lot of carriers.”

Ward also noted there were discussions around battery-electric vehicles and their introduction into fleets. That, too, came with opportunities and challenges. Other topics included high driver satisfaction, challenges keeping equipment functioning, safety and lawsuit abuse against the industry.

Regarding workforce issues, “some people were in a pretty good position and others, based upon geographical location or what have you, were still fighting the battle to bring on more supply of professional drivers,” Ward said.

Outgoing TCA Chairman Dave Williams, who also works as senior vice president of equipment and government relations at Knight-Swift Transportation, was recognized for his work over the past year during an awards ceremony. Maverick Transportation President John Culp was then introduced as the new chairman of the association. The ceremony also included the chairman choice, fleet safety and Highway Angels awards.

Truckload Carriers Association logo

“Chairman Dave Williams was a great leader this year,” Ward said. “He just has a special way about him to be able to connect with people and see the industry through a little different lens and come up with ideas and solutions and things that we should be working on that can create value for the industry and the TCA members, and I am very confident that Chairman John Culp is going to step right into those shoes with that same vision and that same energy.”

The TCA Highway Angels program has since its inception in 1997 recognized professional truck drivers for the courtesy and courage they have shown others while on roadways. This is the first year more than one driver was recognized. Tony Blunnie won for assisting a driver who was in a crash that left a van in flames. Dawna Jacobsen helped a group that got hit while trying to cross the highway on snowmobiles. Terry Reavis assisted in a collision involving a pickup truck driving in reverse and getting hit by a sport utility vehicle.

“We had 47 companies there that we recognized as ambassadors,” Ward said. “That’s 25 years or more as a member of Truckload Carriers Association. So it was pretty special. And then we closed the night before we went into our entertainment, recognizing the class of 2024 with five professional drivers of the year.

Those drivers are:

  • Rosalinda Tejada, Knight Transportation
  • Howard Robinson, NFI Industries
  • Tim Chelette, Big G Express
  • James White, P&S Transportation
  • Clark Reed, Nussbaum Transportation

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