National Tank Truck Carriers’ 2021 Annual Conference & Exhibits exceeded expectations.
Not only did the association welcome approximately 420 professionals—about 100 more than anticipated, due to the lingering affects of the coronavirus pandemic—and 40 exhibitors to Indianapolis, it blew past its fund-raising goal of $100,000, and enjoyed standing-room only attendance for the Advocacy and Board of Directors meetings.
“It was spectacular to finally pull people back together after more than a year without physical meetings,” newly installed president Ryan Streblow said. “Their appreciation was clearly evident in the excitement, the dialogue, and the attendance in itself. It was certainly good to be back at it—and we’re looking forward to doing it again (during Tank Truck Week) in October.”
Highlights included the presentation of the long-delayed Professional Tank Truck Driver of the Year award to veteran G&D Trucking/Hoffman Transportation driver Ron Baird, and the crowning of the 2020 North American safety champions—Suttles Truck Leasing (Harvison division) and LSP Transport (Sutherland).
“Seeing Ron Baird crowned champion was great,” Streblow said. “The guy has enjoyed a spectacular career, and he has an unbelievable resumé. As an organization, and an industry, to have the opportunity for him to represent us for the next year is special. We’re excited to be working with Ron and G&D Trucking moving forward.”
Streblow said this year’s first-time safety champions, Suttles and LSP, emerged from a field in which 75% of competing carriers improved their DOT accident frequencies compared to last year. “A lot of those folks have been working incredibly hard for a very long time to earn those awards, so kudos to them,” he said.
Streblow also credited membership for stepping up to fill the coffers of NTTC’s political advocacy committee, which spearheads the association’s legislate and regulatory efforts in Washington D.C. NTTC fell far short of its annual goal in COVID-afflicted 2020, raising only $69,225, and had reached the $100,000 mark only once in the previous six years.
“We were able to come out in the first half of the year and confirm that we’ve hit $100,000 of funds collected from our membership,” Streblow said. “That’s really impressive. I personally can’t remember the last time we were able to do that. We usually have 100 donors and $100,000 as our annual focus, and that’s what we want to achieve. Now here we are halfway through the year, and we’ve already hit that mark.”
In addition to awarding the William A. Usher Sr. and Heil trophies to the top driver and safety champions, NTTC recognized Lee Shaffer, former chairman of the board for Kenan Advantage Group, and Richard Lewis, former board chairman for Superior Bulk Logistics, with Lifetime Achievement awards.
NTTC presented Lewis’ award to his family after Lewis, who the association had hoped to have in its Legends panel, died in April at the age of 83. “It was great to have Dick’s family, including his son Tom and wife Marilyn, accept the award on his behalf,” Streblow said.
Shaffer was part of the Legends panel, along with Groendyke Transport’s John Groendyke and Grammar Logistics’ Shorty Whittington, which brought together tank truck industry titans for a discussion of where the industry’s been—and where it’s going. “Lee is an amazing individual, with what he has contributed to our industry,” Streblow said. “He really helped mold how business is done in the tank truck industry.”
Other notable speakers included Sen. Mike Braun, a Republican from Illinois, Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Republican from Wisconsin, and keynote Seth Mattison, who expounded on the future of leadership and workforce talent in a lively keynote, and Kim Beck, who presented the results of Cottingham & Butler’s 2020 Trucking Benchmark survey.
(Look for more from the 2021 Annual Conference in an upcoming edition of Bulk Transporter.)
NTTC also welcomed a new chairman of the board, with Liquid Cargo president Kevin Jackson—who presided over a year with no in-person meetings—turning the gavel over to Rob Sandlin, president and CEO of Florida Rock & Tank Lines.
“Rob is an incredibly intelligent and very experienced individual,” Streblow said. “We are thrilled to have him taking over as our chairman.
“He has the ability and experience to bring a couple additional things to the table. He has an agenda, which he laid it out in working with our senior staff, and that’s a focus on growing membership, on our legislative priorities, including the dry bulk tolerance, and on tort reform, starting at the state level and working our way up.”
NTTC’s next meeting is Tank Truck Week, Oct. 10-13 in Dallas. The newly expanded event will include elements previously delivered during the association’s Safety & Security Council meeting, and summer membership and board meeting, which NTTC opted to forego in favor of one all-encompassing industry gathering going forward.
The 2022 Annual Conference is set for April 24-26 in San Diego, Calif.
“Tank Truck Week will expand to be the event for the tank truck industry in North America, because you’ll be able to have your executives go for a period of time, then your safety folks, your operations and purchasing side, and your maintenance individuals can still go check out the latest equipment and get the continued education they need,” Streblow said. “So we’re really focusing on making Tank Truck Week a comprehensive event.”