For Richard Evans, vice president of operations for Abbott Foods, based in Columbus, OH, earning the Top Graduate award for the 2002 CTP (Certified Transportation Professional) program offered as part of the National Private Truck Council's education program was a “great honor,” but not the biggest reward for finishing the program.
“Our customers judge us in large part on the appearance and behavior of our drivers because that is what they see,” he says. “Our drivers go right into our customers' businesses. Therefore, anything that helps us to further train our leadership people — to improve our professionalism over all — is extremely important. Transportation is also a major cost area for us, so we are always working to improve our performance. That's why two of us decided to participate in the CTP program offered by NPTC.”
Evans, whose formal education is in accounting, came to Abbott Foods almost 20 years ago and learned the rest of the business “by experience,” he says. While he is a private fleet veteran, Evans was a relative newcomer to NPTC when he and Abbott Foods transportation manager Todd Hernke joined NPTC and began the CTP program, which is designed to test and validate a candidate's knowledge of fleet and transportation management. According to Evans, joining NPTC and successfully completing the CTP exam are netting his company many benefits.
“We went to NPTC a year ago this January as new members,” Evans recalls. “I had never been part of a strictly transportation-focused organization before, and I quickly found that we had a lot of issues in common with people who really did not know about or care about our products at all.
“Although we operate a refrigerated fleet of 125 power units pulling 28-ft. doubles plus 30 straight trucks, people in the distribution business tend to look at other distribution companies in terms of service, not really in terms of transportation,” he explains. “At NPTC, we were with transportation managers talking about things like backhauls, vehicle maintenance and fleet appearance.
“When Todd and I learned about the CTP program, we signed up for the classes and began work in May of last year.” Evans says. “It is a long process. I did all my coursework over the Internet and took my final test in Cincinnati with just a few other people, so I did not really have a sense of my standing in the class as a whole. All this is an honor for me.
“In addition to the specific information I hoped to acquire from the program, I am finding other unexpected benefits,” he says. “For example, I have learned things that are helping us with our environmental initiatives and with training procedures for the crisis management team we created to deal with accidents or other emergencies.”
Since the CTP program was introduced in 1993, about 400 other transportation professionals have earned the right to add the “Certified Transportation Professional” designation after their names by meeting the eligibility requirements and successfully completing the exam. Candidates must have at least five years of professional fleet management/supplier experience in order to submit a CTP Eligibility Application, and the curriculum offered to prepare for the exam covers 48 separate job tasks in finance, operations, safety, human resources and vehicle and equipment maintenance.
It is no wonder the certification has gained recognition as a benchmark of excellence for private fleet executives like Evans who are willing to stay the difficult course and put themselves to the test. “I highly recommend the program,” says Evans. “It is extremely valuable for people who have had a broad focus and want to narrow in on specific areas of fleet management, or for people like me who have had a more specialized focus and want to broaden their fleet business knowledge.”