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October 17, 2011 5:00 AM, EDT

Trucking Leaders Gather in Texas as ATA Hosts Its Annual Meeting

By Transport Topics Staff

This story appears in the Oct. 17 print edition of Transport Topics.

Trucking leaders are scheduled to gather this week at American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition to discuss critical issues, get familiar with vendors’ latest products and hear from experts on how the political and economic environment will affect their businesses over the next year.

ATA President Bill Graves said topics slated for discussion at the Oct. 15-18 meeting in Grapevine, Texas, include highway funding, pending revisions to the hours-of-service rule, emissions issues and the economy.

One of the first key events of MCE will be the Advocacy and Government Affairs luncheon on Oct. 16. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) will update attendees on the 2012 presidential and congressional elections — and the effect they could have on the trucking industry.

Later that afternoon, the exhibit hall will officially open. More than 160 exhibitors will be showing off their latest products and services, including about 40 that will be there for the first time.

“I’m pleased that we have so many fine companies represented,” Graves said. “The interaction between the thousands of ATA members attending our meeting this year and the dozens of exhibitors in our exhibit hall is an important part of the MCE experience.”

On Oct. 17, Graves will give his “State of the Industry” address at the morning’s general session, and the annual “All Eyes on the Economy” luncheon will take place several hours later. Panelists include: Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist; John Felmy, chief economist of the American Petroleum Institute; and Martin Regalia, chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

During a general session on the conference’s final day, Oct. 18, trucking leaders from four individual sectors will join together to share their perspectives on the recovery and future of the industry.

Scheduled to appear are Gary Salisbury, chief executive officer of truckload fleet Fikes Truck Line; Reggie Dupré, CEO of tanker Dupré Logistics LLC; Steve Williams, chairman and CEO of flatbed carrier Maverick USA Inc.; and Douglas Stotlar, CEO of less-than-truckload firm Con-way Inc.

The panel will be presented by equipment manufacturer Freightliner Trucks and engine maker Cummins Inc. It is set to be moderated by Howard Abramson, publisher and editorial director of Transport Topics Publishing Group.

Dan England, chairman of refrigerated truckload carrier C.R. England Inc., is slated to become the next chairman of ATA at the conclusion of the meeting, replacing Barbara Windsor, president of Hahn Transportation.

C.R. England, Salt Lake City, ranks No. 21 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire trucking companies.

In addition to ATA policy committee meetings, throughout the conference a record number of educational sessions will feature many government and industry leaders.

Anne Ferro, head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is scheduled to participate in a discussion on using driver data to reduce crashes on Oct. 17.

She is also expected to make several other appearances during her time at MCE.

On Oct. 16, Stephen Russell, chairman and CEO of Celadon Group, will be part of a panel discussing lower medical costs for drivers, and Cheryl Bynum, manager of the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Transport Partnership, will discuss new truck fuel economy standards.

Other topics of the educational sessions include the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program’s effect on insurance rates, reducing driver distractions and the use of electronic onboard recorders.

At the conclusion of the conference on Oct. 18, country music group Diamond Rio will headline the annual banquet. The group, expected to perform a one-hour concert, has received 13 Grammy nominations during its nearly 30-year career.

Also during MCE, Jenna Hager, daughter of former President George W. Bush, will address the ATA spouse business meeting on Oct. 18. Hager is a correspondent for NBC’s “Today” show, an author, and chair of UNICEF’s Next Generation initiative, which is dedicated to reducing the number of preventable childhood deaths around the world.