Chairman, American Trucking Associations
Perspective: As an Industry, Let's Win the Sale
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At a time when our political system has grown so adversarial, I believe trucking threads a needle of common purpose. Everyone is entitled to their own political persuasion in this country, and differing viewpoints do not make bad people. But as one of the rare industries that touches every American, trucking is uniquely positioned to transcend the partisan polarization that has gripped our nation and paralyzed Washington.
We are not prognosticators. We are not pontificators. We are doers! Hundreds of millions of Americans depend on us to do our job every day. We exist in every state and congressional district, making our issues bipartisan and giving our priorities broad appeal across all political stripes.
Are you mostly concerned about social programs? In my opinion, the most effective social program is a good job. In trucking, we create millions of jobs that provide strong wages and opportunities without the need for increasingly expensive college education. Look no further than the National Truck Driving Championships and Step Van Championships and TMCSuperTech competitions held in recent months, in which some of the nation’s most talented drivers and technicians showcased their skills and the opportunities this industry offers to master a craft and excel as a professional.
Are you passionate about the environment? We have reduced emissions by 99% over the last 35 years, and trucks are getting cleaner, even on reasonable timelines. Trucking is crucial to addressing climate challenges, and we have secured our seat at the table to ensure national leaders understand the art of the possible and the operational realities of our industry as we work to maximize supply chain sustainability.
Are you focused on the economy and kitchen table issues? We move 73% of the freight tonnage in this country and earn 80% of domestic freight spend. The availability of food, water, clothing, medicine, lumber, steel, gasoline and virtually every other good rests on us, and the prosperity of families and businesses is wholly dependent on our industry’s ability to move safely and efficiently.
On all these issues and so many more, America’s success depends on trucking’s success. That is why membership in American Trucking Associations is so critical. Whereas some elements in the industry drive a race to the bottom determined by the lowest common denominator, ATA represents companies that approach trucking as a profession, led by skilled workers, applied technology, innovative solutions and clean, safe equipment. Our members are safer, better informed and more profitable. Membership in ATA is an investment in that advancement, advocacy and shared future.
By amplifying our collective voice, ATA works to remove impediments to interstate commerce and influence regulation so that it is fair, reasonable and operationally viable. On Capitol Hill, it steers the legislative process toward outcomes that support motor carriers, the supply chain and consumers.
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Despite today’s fiercely tribal political environment, ATA finds a political intersection on our issues — from federal investment in truck parking capacity, to repealing the federal excise tax on heavy-duty trucks, to workforce development programs that open and expand career pathways for the next generation of truckers.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker once told me a story from his teenage years at the dinner table. One night his parents, who had opposing political views, listened as the future governor conveyed his strong beliefs. As young Charlie’s voice rose and his statements grew more adamant, his mother walked out of the room. Then his father looked at him and said, “You may have won the argument, but you lost the sale.”
Thanks to ATA, our industry is uniquely positioned to not just win the argument, but to win the sale. That is good news for America.