Change is in the Wind

The near future of trucking leadership is about to experience the most significant changes it has witnessed in decades. By this time next year there will be new leadership at the American Trucking Association with the resignation of President Governor Graves and at the Canadian Trucking Alliance and Ontario Trucking Association with the resignation of David Bradley. In addition, the newly hired President of The Truckload Carriers Association, Mr. John Lyboldt will have begun to make his mark.

This is by any stretch, a significant change to the trucking industry. I have had the great pleasure of having met and conversed with both Governor Graves and David Bradley on many occasions over the past number of years. In the case of the Governor I can tell you that from the first time I talked to him I knew I was in front of a gentleman. Someone that has, I’m not sure what to call it, maybe presence? I have in my life, experienced this type of presence no more than a handful of times and I know it might sound strange but from my experience, you immediately know when you meet someone with this quality as they have class and dignity.

I was very fortunate to have been the Chairman of TCA (Truckload Carriers Association) for the 2008-9 term and as a right of passage to the rank, I had the opportunity to have lunch with Governor Graves in the then newly opened ATA headquarters in Washington, DC. This is an experience that I will always remember and cherish and he could not have been more open and friendly as we shared industry stories and concerns of the day. Governor Graves will be difficult shoes to fill to say the least. It is hard to imagine that it will be possible to find an individual with a greater pedigree and presence. The folks challenged with this task have a hard road ahead.

I’ve known David Bradley for a number of years and have always had the greatest respect for the man. This is a fellow who is quick on his feet and is as sharp a person as you will ever meet on all trucking industry matters. David has been the very competent gatekeeper of this industry for many years. Best of luck to the group of folks trying to replace the person who has shaped the trucking landscape across Canada for decades. To complicate an already challenging task, David’s resignation likely opens up two positions because of his duel role as OTA and CTA President.

Over the years I asked David for some of his time on two important initiatives and I am proud to say, both were successful. The first was for the OTA to adopt the NATMI (North American Training and Management Institute) certification program called CDS (Certified Director of Safety) for Ontario. The second was OTA’s support for the voluntary apprenticeship program called Tractor Trailer Commercial Driver. My interactions on both occasions would be described as dealing with an individual who is methodical in his thought process until a decision is made and after that point, his actions were clear and precise. This is not a person who sits on the fence; this is a person of action.

I had the pleasure of meeting the newly minted President of the Truckload Carriers Association, Mr. John Lyboldt just this past month while in Alexandria Virginia. John’s pedigree has him leading various automotive trade associations down successful paths and working for the Dale Carnegie group for some time. John has vision and he is determined. A brief conversation reveals immediately that this is a serious person who is going to make his mark. I am thrilled with the decision that TCA’s current leadership made when hiring him. It will be fun to see where TCA is down the road under John’s leadership and governance.

Being the person who is responsible for running any of these associations could only be explained as an exercise in herding cats. Dealing with members who are on the extreme side of type A personalities and appeasing their varied takes on events of the day would in itself be a herculean task. Now throw into the mix the never-ending legislative agendas of various levels of government bureaucracy and the multiple levels of safety initiatives and you have challenges that would overwhelm most of us mere mortals. In addition to all of this they also need to effectively manage a staff and run the day-to-day operations required to keep a non-profit afloat.

That being said, when one looks at ATRI’s (American Trucking Research Institute) annual list of top ten trucking concerns, nothing seems to have changed over the past decade. Driver shortage, hours of service, highway congestion, truck parking, CSA scores, driver health and wellness are things that don’t seem to be moving as priorities to be addressed. Just saying that maybe having fresh eyes look at some of these old problems may be a good thing, as it will provide new ideas, new techniques, and new paradigms on old issues.

So hats off to the years of service we’ve enjoyed from two outstanding leaders in our industry, they have been the competent gatekeepers and we as an industry have benefitted greatly from their dedication. Also best of luck to the new faces that are with us now and the new faces yet to be hired and thrust into the whirlwind of the industry. There are plenty of challenges yet to be tackled and plenty more on the horizon I’m sure, for the one constant in the industry is change.
Safe Trucking

Ray J. Haight

About Ray J. Haight

Areas of Focus: Operations, Recruiting & Retention, Human Resources With a career spanning four decades, Ray has been involved in all facets of the North American Trucking Industry.