There’s a lot going on here at the 2010 Mid America Trucking Show (or “MATS” as we tired hacks refer to it) in terms of new product rollouts, updates on industry trends, and the opportunity to gaze upon some mighty sharp iron, tricked out in all sorts of chrome and paint combinations.
[You can view a few of these nicely dressed rigs below, courtesy of National Association of Show Truck or “NAST” members.]
Doug Scholten, a 26 year old driver that’s spent the last seven and a half years or so on the road, told me that the reason he enjoys driving a “show truck special” as he calls it is that he gets lots of compliments on his ride. “It’s a fun and interesting job, driving a truck; I’ve been all over the place,” Scholten said. Though there are more than a few times when trucking can be a grim, tiring business, more often than not he enjoys putting miles on the highway.
It’s made all the better because Scholten makes good money running refrigerated freight largely on dedicated runs between Michigan and California. “The trick is to take trucking day by day,” he told me. “You can’t plan that you’ll drop a load here, pick one up over there, then make it home at a set time to do these two or three things,” he said, noting that schedules are always far more neater on paper than they are in real life, where traffic congestion is but one of many monkey wrenches thrown into a driver’s daily life.
Scholten is from a trucking family, his father and two brothers also being drivers themselves, and view trucking as a lifestyle more than a job – a career he hopes to stay in for a long while.
Part of the attraction of MATS is not only getting the chance to talk with drivers from all over the U.S., but get a glimpse of some of the new technologies and trucks being deployed to try and make their chosen livelihood that much more efficient, productive and profitable.
ArvinMeritor, for example, recently rolled out a new line of tandem rear axles for linehaul trucks aimed at improving fuel economy for truckers running on the traditional duals or new wide base tires.
[Joe Plomin, vice president of ArvinMeritor’s truck division, shows off some of the features of the new 14X axle package below.]
Then of course there are new trucks themselves, such as Kenworth’s T700 long-haul tractor, designed to give drivers not only a more comfortable working environment, but save on fuel so they can reduce their operation costs.
[Preston Feight, Kenworth’s chief engineers, points out some of the new features on the T700 below.]
One thing is for sure about MATS – try as you might, you just can’t see it all in a couple of days. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try.