As the time for this year’s National Private Truck Council’s (NPTC) Annual Conference quickly approaches, Gary Petty, president and CEO of NPTC spent a few minutes with Fleet Owner discussing the excitement surrounding this year’s event.
One point that Petty made is that the Conference, which takes place April 26-28 at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza and Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati, provides great value to attendees, with more than 1,200 expected this year, the largest gathering ever.
“We’re not a culture where people come to meetings because they can get on a golf outing and get away from work for a couple of days,” Petty said. “We’ve become a part of their professional lives.”
The Conference will feature speakers, awards, workshops and about 23 seminars “talking about specific topics that have been vetted [to provide the best value to attendees],” Petty said, “because these topics are of the most interest to our market.”
Like their for-hire brethren, private fleets are concerned over many of the same topics facing the industry: driver shortages, aging workforce, regulations, capacity. Tom Moore, senior vice president of NPTC, said, of all the concerns, the driver shortage remains at the top of the list, even as member fleets enjoy turnover rates below the industry average, which is are at near-record highs according to the latest data.
Another issue that will be addressed at the conference is data and how to use it.
“We have a number of sessions on that,” Moore said. “Fleets are just drowning in data and they need to know how to turn that data into actionable information.”
The speaker lineup, which includes keynote speakers Carey Lohrenz, the U.S. Navy’s first female F-14 pilot and team-building, leadership and strategy expert; Jack Van Steenburg, chief safety officer and assistant administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration; and Kenny Vieth, president and senior analyst of ACT Research, is designed to provide as much value as possible. Many of the sessions themselves feature leading fleets sharing information.
“They are all fleet speakers who are sharing best practices in a very [welcoming] and safe environment,” Moore said. “There’s also a whole lot of sharing of information that goes on outside in the halls.”
The 3-day program will also include a number of award presentations, including the Certified Transportation Professionals (CTP) Class of 2015, which includes the Top Grad award, sponsored by Fleet Owner.
This year’s CTP class features 93 graduates. “That program has grown tenfold in nine years,” said Petty.
This year’s Conference also comes at a time when private fleets are seeing unprecedented opportunities and annual growth in the 5-8% range. With the growing freight environment in the U.S. forecast to continue for the foreseeable future, for-hire fleets are seeing capacity crunches. That is opening doors for private fleets, many of whom not only must secure the freight contracts for their parent companies, but also look for backhauls to improve efficiency.
“There are capacity constraints out there, but what that actually does is provide an opportunity for the private fleet,” said Moore, adding that customer service is one of the key metrics the private fleets excel at. “They are demonstrating a greater value.”
“There’s a great feeling that this part of the transportation world is more valued and respected…perhaps more than ever before,” Petty added.
Ultimately, what Petty said NPTC’s members want out of a conference such as this are ideas.
“They want to go away with new ideas that they can plug-and-play [into their own organizations],” he said. “That’s the experience [attendees] have experienced in the past and what they expect going forward.
“It’s not just another trade show; it’s not just another junket,” Petty said. “We have the slogan, ‘You Must be Present to Win,’ and people who come year after year [see that demonstrated].”