Gallery: ATA’s MCE turns attention to trucking’s future

Oct. 28, 2022
The annual management conference featured displays of the latest trucking equipment and some from the future. Here’s a look at some of the news and sights from this week’s event.

SAN DIEGO—American Trucking Associations returned to the shores of San Diego Bay this week for the 2022 Management Conference & Exhibition. The show featured some industry announcements and rock star appearances and drew fleet executives, commercial vehicle suppliers, and other industry members here for the first time since 2019.

All the significant OEMs had various technology and zero-emissions equipment on the exhibition floor, which shared space with some of the emerging autonomous driving and other fleet technology companies. Some used the event to announce new products or business deals.

Following a much-anticipated address from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigeg on the show's final day, the ATA Board of Directors elected Dan Van Alstine, president and COO of Ruan Transportation Management Systems, as the trade organization’s 78th chairman. Based in Des Moines, Iowa, Ruan is the 37th largest for-hire carrier in the nation, according to the 2022 FleetOwner 500: For-Hire.

See also: ATA’s Spear: 'Don't mess with trucking'

“I am humbled and truly honored to be here and to serve as your chairman of this great organization,” Van Alstine said. “It is an absolute privilege to represent the millions of Americans who move our country as part of the transportation and logistics industry.”

ATA President and CEO Chris Spear praised Van Alstine’s appointment. “Dan is perfectly suited to be ATA’s next chairman,” he said. “He listens, asks questions, and then takes action—that’s leadership “His ability to get the best out of people by challenging and inspiring them is why he makes a difference and we are fortunate to have him as our chairman.”

Van Alstine succeeds Harold Sumerford Jr., CEO of J&M Tank Lines (No. 240 on FleetOwner 500: For-Hire) as ATA chairman. The board also elected Andrew Boyle, co-president of Boyle Transportation, as ATA first vice chairman; and Darren Hawkins, CEO of Yellow as ATA second vice chairman. The directors also named Dennis Dellinger, president and CEO of Cargo Transporters, and Wes Davis, CFO of Big M Transportation, as ATA vice chairmen. In addition, the board re-elected John M. Smith, chairman of CRST International, as secretary and John A. Smith, president and CEO of FedEx Ground, as treasurer.

Advanced technology on display

The crowded exhibition hall was full of heavy-duty equipment, trailers, and truck technology. Peterbilt Motors showed off its new futuristic-looking SuperTruck 2. Volvo Trucks North America unveiled a new TCO tool for battery-electric equipment and announced VNR Electric orders for a fleet converting to EVs. VTNA also extended its America’s Road Team sponsorship. Mack Trucks also spotlighted its regional haul model and re-upped its commitment to ATA programs.

Daimler Truck Financial Services announced a dynamic insurance offering that could reduce rates based on fleet safety data. Lytx announced that Daimler Truck North America will factory-install Lytx video telematics technology in select Freightliner and Western Star trucks in 2023. 

Clarience Technology’s Road Ready showed off a new fleet asset technology offering, Fus1on, that aims to make fleet data visualization more seamless. 

Rock stars and future forecasts 

Billy Joel was the surprise musical act at DTNA’s annual customer appreciation event, held at the Rady Shell at Jacob Park on San Diego Bay. While Daimler customers were treated to a night of rocking out with literal rock star Joel, political rock star “Secretary Pete” got a warm welcome from industry leaders.

See also: Rep. DeFazio: Political 'potholes' hamper highway funding

Buttigieg—wearing the “I heart Trucks” pin on his lapel—received more than one standing ovation from trucking executives during his address and Q&A session at ATA’s Board of Directors meeting.

ATA leader Spear had a lot of praise for Buttigieg before introducing him. During the ATA CEO’s state of the industry address the day before, he praised the infrastructure legislation and the federal courts knocking down Rhode Island’s truck-only tolling. On the conference's opening day, the newly-confirmed Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration leader, Robin Hutcheson, laid out her strategy for the U.S. DOT agency. 

Bob Costello, the ATA’s chief economist, predicted a mild recession in early 2023 that could reduce some freight demand before rebounding. He also said this could slow the truck driver shortage, which is down a bit this year. But by 2024, it could surpass the 2021 record-high shortage and more than double by 2031. 

This was the first time in five years that the driver shortage did not top the American Transportation Research Institute’s annual top industry concerns list. Fuel costs bumped the shortage to No. 2 on the 2022 list, which was unveiled during the conference. 

About the Author

Josh Fisher | Editor-in-Chief

Editor-in-Chief Josh Fisher has been with FleetOwner since 2017, covering everything from modern fleet management to operational efficiency, artificial intelligence, autonomous trucking, regulations, and emerging transportation technology. He is based in Maryland. 

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