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NTTC goes back to Cali

April 18, 2022
Tank truck industry returns to sunny San Diego for the first time in six years for National Tank Truck Carriers’ 2022 Annual Conference & Exhibits

Ryan Streblow, president and CEO of National Tank Truck Carriers, says the association is in a better position today than it was two years ago, when it had to cancel the Annual Conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and shift other events online. They’ve solidified NTTC’s leadership, honed its business plan, and increased engagement.

It’s a good thing, too, because tank truck carriers need their assistance now more than ever.

“They’ve got a series of challenges ahead of them, and the association is working with them hand-in-hand  to address those challenges,” Streblow said. “And from a carrier’s perspective, labor issues are priority No. 1. We’re talking drivers, technicians, logistics coordinators—employees across the board. This industry offers great paying jobs, great futures, and provides people with a good life, so we need to get that message out.”

Other challenges include rising fuel and equipment prices, supply-chain disruptions that constrict capacity—and the usual concerns, like keeping employees safe, avoiding “nuclear verdicts,” and meeting regulatory requirements. NTTC’s leaders, and carrier and associate members, will address all of those issues and more during the 2022 Annual Conference & Exhibits April 23-26 at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront in San Diego, Calif.

NTTC planned to host its 2021 Annual Conference in San Diego, before pushing it back to June in Indianapolis, and Streblow said members are clamoring to return for the first time since 2016. “The tank truck industry loves being there,” he said.

Approximately 420 people attended last year’s conference, which was one of the first in-person trucking-industry gatherings after the initial wave of lockdowns and trade show cancellations. Streblow said the association is expecting greater attendance this year, especially on the supplier end. Fifty-six exhibitors were registered as of mid-March. “In June of last year, in Indianapolis, we were still facing restrictions from the COVID pandemic, and people were still concerned with air travel, hotel availability, etc.,” he said. “This year, we all realize we’re not completely out of it, but we’re certainly looking for a better turnout.”

The most eagerly anticipated meetings are the Professional Tank Truck Driver of the Year Award Banquet, set for 7:15-10 a.m. Monday, April 25, and the North American Safety Award Luncheon, set for noon-3 p.m. Tuesday, April 26.

The Champion finalists for the 2021-22 Tank Truck Driver of the Year award are Robert Anderson (Florida Rock & Tank Lines), James W. Ellis, Sr. (Grammer Logistics), Thomas Frain (Highway Transport), Dean Hansen (Trimac Transportation), Richard “Jerry” Locke (Kenan Advantage Group), Daniel Smith (Kenan Advantage Group), Demetrius Stewart (Eagle Transport), and Michael White (Quality Carriers).

“Every year, I think, ‘Wow, this has to be the greatest class ever,’ and ‘How do you beat that?’ with the quality of the individuals and personalities, and the commitment they’ve made to the profession,” Streblow said. “And once again this year, after a nice meeting with the eight finalists in D.C., I had the exact same thought.”

Past winners of the award, aka the William A. Usher, Sr. 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

The Driver of the Year luncheon also will include a keynote address by motivational speaker Inky Johnson. “His story is incredible, and he was a high-priority request from our current chairman, Rob Sandlin, who also is a University of Tennessee alum,” Streblow said. “His story of resiliency, and what he has overcome, and his viewpoint, is pretty impressive.”

So are the candidates for the 2021 Heil trophies. NTTC once again will reveal the winners of its prestigious North American Safety Contest awards in the Harvison and Sutherland divisions on stage during the safety luncheon. The Harvison division spotlights carriers with operations that covered more than 15 million miles last year, and the Sutherland division features carriers who traveled 15 million miles or less.

The 2021 hopefuls include for-hire carriers Trimac Transportation, Oakley Transport, Slay Transportation, Service Transport Company, and Atlantic Bulk Carrier; and private fleets Pilot Travel Centers, CLI Transport, and SWTO in the Harvison division; and for-hire carriers Harmac Transportation, Wynne Transport Service, Dixon Bros., Weaver Bros., J&S Transport, Quick-Way, Transmark, and Ventura Transfer Company; and private fleets Casey’s Services Company, LSP Transport, and Poolsure in the Sutherland division.

Suttles Truck Leasing (Harvison) and LSP (Sutherland)—the first private-fleet winner—are the reigning 2020 safety champs.

Recent Heil trophy winners include:

  • 2014: Tidewater Transit, Harvison; Wynne Transport, Sutherland
  • 2015: Miller Transporters, Harvison; Carbon Express, Sutherland
  • 2016: Groendyke Transport, Harvison; GLS Transport, Sutherland
  • 2017: Gemini Motor Transport, Harvison; G&D Trucking/Hoffman Transportation, Sutherland
  • 2018: Groendyke Transport, Harvison; Tandet Logistics, Sutherland
  • 2019: Trimac Transportation, Harvison; G&D Trucking/Hoffman Transportation, Sutherland

Robin Hutcheson, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s acting administrator, will help present the awards, and keynote the safety luncheon. “How appropriate to have the individual holding that position to recognize all of our safety achievements in the industry,” Streblow said.

Other noteworthy speakers include Harold Sumerford, chairman of American Trucking Associations, and CEO of J&M Tank Lines; Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist; and Shawn Yadon, president of the California Trucking Association.

Sumerford, who served as the 2015-16 NTTC chairman, will deliver the ATA update.

“Harold is one of the most down-to-earth, thoughtful, and caring individuals in this industry, one who doesn’t focus only on his business, but what’s in the best interest of the entire tank truck industry, and the overall industry,” Streblow said. “Having known him for many years, he is absolutely the right guy to be at the helm for ATA.

“We’re thrilled to have him present at our event.”

Activities Sunday, April 24, include committee and sub-committee meetings, and the Chairman’s Reception from 4:30-6:30 p.m. in the exhibit hall, where the eight Driver of the Year finalists also will be celebrated. The Workforce Development Committee meets from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Monday; and the ACT1 Grand Finale Event, which closes out the Annual Conference, is slated for 6-8 p.m. Tuesday.

The exhibit hall opens 4:30-6:30 p.m. Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-1:45 p.m. Monday, and 8-10 a.m. Tuesday.

Political Action Committee

In addition, NTTC’s Political Action Committee (PAC) again will host a fundraising golf tournament and a reception.

The PAC Golf Outing starts at noon Saturday, April 23, at the Maderas Golf Course in Poway, Calif. Brought to life by Johnny Miller and Robert Muir Graves, the course features a winding layout through rocky terrain and dramatic elevation changes. Following a shotgun start, players compete in four-person shambles.

The PAC Reception begins at 5 p.m. Monday in the Hilton Bayfront’s Elevation Room.

Streblow said NTTC’s advocacy committee established the association’s strategic legislative and regulatory priorities for the year and approved its PAC distribution plan during the Membership & Board Meeting in February in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Their first move was to contribute $50,000 to ATA’s Litigation Center to fight Rhode Island’s trucks-only toll ‘scheme.’

“That board of directors meeting in February really helps us set the tone for the year for the association,” Streblow said.

NTTC surpassed $100,000 in member donations at last year’s PAC Reception, during the Annual Conference in Indianapolis, for only the second time in the last seven years, Streblow said, an indicator of members’ growing interest in engaging with Washington. The association’s PAC raised only $69,225 in COVID-afflicted 2020.

“We were able to come out in the first half of the year and confirm we’ve hit $100,000 of funds collected from our membership,” Streblow said last June. “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.”