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Long-time NTTC president Harvison dies at 85

March 27, 2024
Clifford J. “Cliff” Harvison served 33 years as the second National Tank Truck Carriers president, following Austin Sutherland, who helped found NTTC and Bulk Transporter

Clifford J. “Cliff” Harvison, who followed Austin Sutherland as the second National Tank Truck Carriers president and spent 40 years serving the tank truck industry, died March 19 at his home in Stuart, Florida.

Harvison was 85 years old.

The man whose name now graces NTTC’s largest for-hire carrier division in the North American Safety Contest, joined the trade association in 1965 and rose to president in 1972. He held the title for 33 years until retiring in 2005, when his vice president, John Conley—formed Bulk Transporter editor—succeeded him.

Nick Rahall, a former U.S. representative from West Virginia, honored Harvison prior to his retirement with a stirring tribute to his legacy that was recorded in the Congressional record July 28, 2005. It reads, in part:

“Through the establishment of the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and more recently, the Department of Homeland Security; through deregulation of the trucking industry, and carrier consolidation; through the terrorist attacks on our infrastructure and upon our nation; Cliff Harvison has kept watch at National Tank Truck Carriers, the tank truck industry’s national trade association,” attested Rahall, who served in Congress from 1977 to 2015.

“In addition to working with me—for almost three decades as a member of Congress who understands the needs and vast potential of our national transportation network to states such as West Virginia—as well as working with a great many other members of Congress over the last several decades, Cliff has worked also with labor, with federal agencies, and with his own carriers to improve highway transportation. In so doing, he has played a key role in the development of major legislative and regulatory initiatives aimed at highway safety, hazardous materials uniformity, and transportation security. The Motor Carrier Safety Act, the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act—and its successor, the Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act—the Safe Food Transportation Act, truck driver hazardous materials endorsements—these are all key pieces of legislation and regulation affecting motor carriers, and bear the stamp of Cliff Harvison’s input as an honest, and honorable, broker.”

See also: Looking back: An exclusive interview with Cliff Harvison

Friends and colleagues agree, saying in an obituary Harvison was a much-respected trade association executive known for his outstanding oral and written communications skills. His focus was always on the credibility of NTTC with its members, the industry at large, government regulators, and Capitol Hill. He led the association during the challenging days of deregulation and industry restructuring and supported the Department of Transportation in changes to the regulations of the design, construction, and maintenance of cargo tanks used to haul hazardous materials that enhanced safety. He also led the industry’s defeat of the Congressionally mandated banning of hazmat in cargo tank loading lines that would have negatively impacted safety.

Through all his accomplishments, Harvison always remained humble, telling long-time Bulk Transporter editor Charles Wilson in this December 2005 interview that his goal was simply to treat everyone fairly.

“If anything, I’d want people to remember that I ran the association fairly and I implemented a piece of advice that my predecessor, Austin Sutherland, gave me,” Harvison explained. “He told me ‘Treat your smallest member as well, if not better, than your largest member.’ I have always tried to do that.”

Harvison was a graduate of Duquesne University where he played tennis. He was a U.S. Army veteran and worked at the Central Intelligence Agency on the German desk before joining NTTC. He was an avid golfer, reader, and expert in crossword puzzles. He is survived by his wife Sandy, son John, and brother Carl and was predeceased by his daughter Jennifer in 2013.

In lieu of flowers and at his request, the family suggests donations in Harvison’s name be made to Tunnels to Towers.

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