It’s a great time to stick together. With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined to let California lead on emissions rules—a path with potentially wide-ranging supply chain ramifications—the best hope for tank truck companies who still believe common sense will prevail is to come up with alternative technologies and timelines that better align with transportation realities.
That was the impetus behind the Clean Freight Coalition, formed in March by National Tank Truck Carriers, American Trucking Associations, and three other industry trade organizations; and their desire to find one voice for trucking’s journey to zero emissions—as ATA President and CEO Chris Spear recently put it—is driving engagement in a segment that will be doubly impacted, both in terms of how they'll fuel their tractors, and the trailers they'll need to haul these new commodities. Registrations for NTTC’s 2023 Annual Conference and Exhibits were up 200% year-over-year with a month to go, according to Ryan Streblow, NTTC president and CEO.
“With 52% of our segment providing energy services in some way, shape, or form, they’re reviewing these developments and keeping a close eye on the direction of emissions controls—and the requirements for powering the trucking industry and motoring public—to understand how we need to shift our business models,” Streblow said.
More than 400 industry stakeholders attended last year’s meeting in San Diego, California, where Highway Transport driver Thomas Frain was named NTTC’s 2021-22 Professional Tank Truck Driver of the Year, Service Transport Company claimed the Heil trophy in the Harvison division, and Lacy’s Express won the Sutherland-division title. And with registration rates soaring, NTTC’s aiming for a record turnout this year. “We’re seeing a lot of visibility from carriers and fleets wanting to address industry issues impacting their businesses on a daily basis,” Streblow said. “That’s the focus we’ll have in Boston, in addition to recognizing our top for-hire carriers, private fleets, and professional drivers.”
Growing interest, combined with the efforts of new sales director Benton Landers, are boosting membership, too. NTTC is up to 525 members after adding 17 carrier members, representing 3,720 power units, three private-fleet members, and 23 associate members in the last 12 months. And many of those new members attended the rebranded Executive Forum in February in Palm Springs, California, Streblow said.
“We’ve had quite a bit of growth in carrier and fleet membership this past year, so it was nice to see those new folks engaging,” he said.
NTTC’s Driver of the Year and North American safety championship presentations once again will highlight the program. The association will reveal the 2022-23 Driver of the Year during the opening breakfast May 22. This year’s eight champion finalists are Robert Anderson, Florida Rock & Tank Lines; Jefferson Benjamin, SWTO; David Lepak, Quality Carriers; Robert Newsome, Cox Petroleum; Richard “Jerry” Locke, Kenan Advantage Group; David Powell, Usher Transport; Pam Randol, Highway Transport; and Kenneth Tolliver, G&D Trucking/Hoffman Transportation
“Having had the opportunity to meet these individuals in January in Washington D.C., during the interview process, I know they’re all amazing individuals,” Streblow said. “Every year, I don’t know how we’re going to beat that group of eight drivers, and yet I’m again astonished every year.”
Previous winners of the Usher Trophy include:
- 2013-14: James Starr, Groendyke Transport
- 2014-15: Bobby Weller, Hahn Transportation
- 2015-16: Darryl Nowell, Eagle Transport
- 2016-17: Todd Stine, Carbon Express
- 2017-18: Paul Emerson, Foodliner
- 2018-19: Barbara Herman, K-Limited Carrier
- 2019-20: Program suspended due to pandemic
- 2020-21: Ron Baird, G&D Trucking/Hoffman Transportation
- 2021-22: Thomas Frain, Highway Transport
In addition to naming two for-hire carrier safety champs, NTTC for the first time will award a Heil trophy to a private fleet during the North American safety contest awards luncheon, which begins at noon May 23. The first private-fleet finalists, who secured Grand awards during the first round of the contest, are Gemini Motor Transport (Class 1), CLI Transport (Class 2), Casey’s Services Company (Class 3), LSP Transport (Class 4), and Poolsure (Class 5). Gemini previously claimed a Heil trophy in 2017, and LSP won in 2020.
The for-hire carrier finalists include Heniff Transportation Systems, Oakley Transport, Slay Transportation, Tidewater Transit, and Tandet Group in the Harvison division; and Harmac Transportation, Solar Transport, Alaska West Express, AG Energy Transport, Ee-Jay Motor Transports, Lamb Fuels, and Ventura Transfer Company in the Sutherland division. Tidewater won in 2014, and Tandet in 2018.
“For-hire carrier and private-fleet operations aren’t the same,” Streblow said. “They’re operating similar equipment, but how they handle their business, and how drivers go about their daily jobs, are different; and the Safety and Security Council felt it was important not to diminish the value our private fleets and our for-hire carriers bring to the table. So, adding that division made complete sense.”
Segment committee meetings May 21 will include presentations by industry experts. Day 1 also features the chairman’s reception in the exhibit hall, and the first opening-night event. “A big thank you goes out to Stainless Tank and Equipment (STE) and Isaac Instruments for their sponsorship of this new event,” Streblow said.
Day 2 includes a keynote from retired Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Rooney during the Driver of the Year breakfast; the advocacy and workforce committee meetings—where attendees will receive updates on NTTC’s registered tank truck apprenticeship program and industry branding campaign—an ATA update from ATA Chairman Dan Van Alstine, president and COO of Ruan Transportation, and a review of the 2023 Tank Truck Driver Benefits and Compensation report by Kim Beck, VP of benefits consulting at Cottingham & Butler.
The board of directors meeting, North American safety contest luncheon, and ACT 1 grand finale highlight the final day’s events.