27th Annual NTDA Convention Highlights Include Networking Opportunities, World-Class Educational Opportunities, Topnotch Golf, Member Recognition

Convention Wrap Up

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More than 600 members attended the 27th Annual NTDA Convention, Oct. 11-13, 2017 at the TPC Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL.

Capt. Michael Abrashoff (ret.) Presents Keynote Presentation


Highlights included a Keynote Presentation by Capt. Michael Abrashoff (ret.) who spoke about the inspiration for his best-selling book It’s Your Ship. During his speech, Abrashoff told attendees, “I didn’t turn the ship around, my crew did that. What I did was to reinvent my leadership style and create an environment where they felt safe, empowered and supported. When they came to me with a problem, I’d say ‘It’s your ship. How would you fix it?”

NTDA 2016–2017 Chairman of the Board Steve Robinson kicked off the educational program on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017 with a State of the Association Address that constitutes the NTDA’s Annual Meeting. Robinson provided members with an overview of the NTDA’s accomplishments, financial stability, membership growth, and a glimpse into future endeavors and goals.

Dave Manning, President of TCW based in Nashville, TN stepped in to speak on Kevin Burch’s behalf as Burch was called to the White House to discuss the Highway Bill and other matters. Manning discussed top industry issues, including the electronic data logs mandate, hours of service rules, the cumulative economic impact of trucking regulations, truck parking, CSA, the ongoing driver shortage and driver retention, transportation infrastructure and others. Manning also touched on potential tax reform.

Manning told attendees that congestion on the U.S. National Highway System cost the trucking industry $63.4 billion in 2015. Lost productivity due to congestion equals 996 million hours and equates to 362,243 commercial drivers sitting idle for an entire year. Further, a motorist loses an average of $523 annually (e.g., $112 billion nationally) in vehicle repair costs due to unmaintained roads (i.e., pot holes). More than 88% of the National Highway System’s congestion occurs on just 17% of the network and can be solved by eliminating major bottlenecks.

Manning said that ideas for solving the driver shortage include:

  • Working with state and federal authorities to consider a graduated CDL program to safely attract new and younger drivers;
  • Working with the Department of Labor to formalize a national work force development program
  • Researching and quantifying successful recruitment strategies for commercial drivers;
  • Improving Driver Image (www.com)
  • Hiring former military (Hiring Our Heroes Initiative).


Other educational presentations included a bonus session covering Year-end Tax Tips for Dealers from CliftonLarsonAllen LLP, the third largest firm in the U.S. that specializes in dealer accounting financial management. Tim Reynolds, CPA, Principal, reviewed proposed tax reforms, year-end planning ideas, Federal Excise Tax (FET) Updates and FET Best Practices. Reynolds recommends looking at current accounting methods, capital expenditure decisions, loss dispositions and bad debt write offs, Section 179 depreciations (e.g., computer and software purchases, qualifying property placed in service or phase out of service, and the like), bonus depreciations, wage planning, capitalization vs. expense for repairs, reviewing expenses for meals and entertainment, reconciling parts inventory; maximize retirement contributions, and other tips.

Glen Kedzie and Steve Goreham discuss Greenhouse Gas Phase 2

Steve Goreham, Author and Environmental Researcher, and Glen Kedzie, Vice President, Energy & Environmental Affairs Counsel, for the American Trucking Associations presented somewhat controversial views on Trucking Powered by Modern Energy and a Greenhouse Gas Phase 2 Update.

Richard Finnegan, President of C-Suite Analytics presented a bonus session focused on how to Hire & Train Millennials using a technique he refers to as “Stay Interviews.” A Stay Interview is a structured discussion a leader conducts with each individual employee to learn the specific actions she must take to strengthen that employee’s engagement and retention with the organization.

According to Finnegan, U.S. workers change jobs and companies seven times on average by age 28. U.S., workers change jobs and companies 10-14 times on average by age 38. That results in significant turnover costs for employers. Turnover costs for a freight handler is around $5,000 per employee whereas turnover costs for a software engineer is $131,000 per employee. Losing a top performer can be devastatingly expensive for an employer.

Finnegan also presented a concurrent session on Retention Solutions for Keeping Top Talent. U.S.-based companies spent $1.53 billion each year trying to improve employee engagement. Finnegan recommends business accountability from the top down. However, employees were surveyed about why they quit their jobs and the majority left due to their relationship with their supervisor versus pay or benefits. Building trust within is key to employee retention.

Lyn Simon, president of Transportation Data Source (TDS), presented a bonus session on how to increase parts and service sales. Using TDS and other Web-based resources, Simon explained how Dealers can search, sort and view every company with a USDOT number in their local region, including fleet contact information, size and locations, makes and models of equipment, commodities carried, SmartWay, CARB TRU registrations, and more. Dealers can also research motor carrier lanes and the types of equipment fleets are operating. Carrier details also reported include inspection and safety data, VIN numbers, and other information that can be valuable for promoting parts and service sales to fleets.

Mark Martincic, Professional Advisor with KEA Advisors, discussed the concept of a “Lean, Mean Dealer Machine.” Martincic reviewed LEAN concepts and how to apply them to dealerships, how to measure, assess and change the culture of a LEAN-based organization and how to successfully execute a plan and still do your day-to-day job.

The core idea of LEAN management is to maximize “customer value” while “minimizing waste.” Simply, LEAN means creating more value for customers with fewer resources. Martincic explained that the number-one principle is to base your management decisions on a long-term philosophy, even at the expense of short-term financial goals. Then, create a continuous process flow to bring problems to the surface. Use a “pull” system to avoid overproduction. Level out workload and build a culture of stopping to fix problems to get quality right the first time. For more information about LEAN management training or consulting, contact KEA Advisors at (205) 821-5300 or e-mail mark@keaadvisors.com.

A panel of representatives from BMO Transportation Finance, DLL Financial Solutions Partner, Hitachi Capital America and ENGS Commercial Finance Co. presented a market overview for dealer financing. Richard Bloomquist, President, North Central Utility of Wisconsin LLC — Madison moderated the session. Panelists agreed that interest rates are likely to increase 25 basis points.

Mitch Ryder Performs at NTDA Convention Welcome Reception


Other event highlights included a Welcome Reception concert by Mitch Ryder. Rolling Stone Magazine hails Ryder as one of the five most influential rock and roll singers to ever come from Detroit. Members of the opening band Invisible Poet Kings also provided entertainment during the Friday, Oct. 13, 2017 Awards Dinner. Special thanks to NTDA President Gwen Brown’s brother Ed Krzyzaniak who plays guitar for Mitch Ryder for assisting in getting the band to play at the Convention.


Participants of the 27th Annual NTDA Golf Tournament had perfect weather for a day of competitive golf at the home of the PGA. Tournament participants generously contributed more than $3,000 to the NTDA Scholarship Fund through optional activities, including a putting contest and a beat the pro contest.


About 50 attendees ventured to St. Augustine, the oldest city in the U.S. for a day of site seeing and adventure on Friday, Oct. 13. Spouses and guests enjoyed the resort’s Cabana Beach Club on Thursday, Oct. 12.

Becky Blyth Sings National Anthems


The Convention rounded out with a special cocktail reception and Awards Dinner on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. A number of members commented that this year’s Awards Dinner had a very special atmosphere and that they enjoyed the lighthearted humor of the presentations and special entertainment that featured the singing of the National Anthem by Becky Blyth, spouse of Charlie Blyth, Owner, Blyth Trailer Sales, LLC (Valley Park, MO). Attendees who stuck until the end of the Awards Dinner got to hear the surprise stylings of NTDA President Gwen Brown on stage.


NTDA 2017–2018 Chairman of the Board Dale Martens remembered several members we lost too soon this year, including Claude Sauriol, Jim Downey, Rick Honan, Bill Garrison, and Jerry Allen Steele.


Martens also recognized those individuals who volunteered to help with the Convention registration area, golf tournament or other aspects of the program.

  • Ricardo Aguinaga, Hallco Industries, Inc.
  • Stephanie Bloomquist (spouse), North Central Utility of Wisconsin LLC — Madison
  • Philip Bortz, Stargate Mfg., Inc.
  • John and Laurie Carr (spouse), Havco Wood Products, LLC
  • Charles Cathey, Black Book
  • Beth Clarke, Oversees Hardwoods Company
  • Craig Czupka, Vanguard National Parts
  • Jason Fishback, onewaytrailers.com
  • Marcia Fossey, Aspen Custom Trailers
  • John Harris, KEITH Mfg. Co.
  • Joel and Theresa Hought (spouse), Northwest Truck & Trailer
  • Patty Kealy, ConferenceDirect
  • Alex Lambevski (guest)
  • Stefan Lambevski, Transport Trailer Sales
  • Richard Moffitt, Hallco Industries, Inc.
  • Scott Ruder, Transglobal Door
  • Greg Smith, Travis Body & Trailer, Inc.
  • Lyn Simon, onewaytrailers.com
  • Marc Tarbay, Reyco Granning, LLC
  • Kathy Toomey (guest).


John Carr, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for HAVCO Wood Products LLC, was presented with the NTDA’s Hall of Commitment Award. Each year, Carr takes photos throughout the Convention which has bolstered NTDA’s ongoing marketing efforts.

Another hard working volunteer this year has been Mark Hall, Corporate Trailer Sales Manager for Stoops Freightliner – Quality Trailer, Inc. Hall had no idea what he was getting himself into when he volunteered to chair the Golf Committee. This task involves hours of work organizing the tournament pairings.


Each year, the NTDA recognizes its Membership Ambassadors who have recruited one or more members within the past year. The NTDA would like to recognize Dale Martens, President, American Trailer & Storage and Jon Short, President of Stoc Trailer, for recruiting four new members each between Sept. 1, 2016 and Sept. 1, 2017. Martens and Short both received the President’s Award of Excellence during the Awards Dinner on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017 at the TPC Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa.

The following individuals also recruited new members throughout the year. The NTDA greatly appreciates the efforts of all of our Ambassadors!

  • Jeff Barber, Interstate Utility Trailer — Recruited 1 New Member
  • Philip Bauer, RCM Dedicated Services, LLC — Recruited 1 New Member
  • Dave Boyd, Aero Industries — Recruited 1 New Member
  • Jon Comeford, Utility Trailers of New England, Inc. — Recruited 1 New Member
  • Mike Conley, Aurora Parts & Accessories LLC — Recruited 1 New Member
  • Evan Doepker, Doepker Trailers — Recruited 2 New Members
  • Dave Durand, Great Dane Trailers — Recruited 1 New Member
  • David Feitler, Cramaro Tarpaulin System — Recruited 1 New Member
  • Tom Haughs, Doleco-USA — Recruited 1 New Member
  • Brent Hey, Arrow Truck Sales — Recruited 1 New Member
  • Joel Hought, Northwest Trailer & Equipment — Recruited 1 New Member
  • Jim Kenyon, Roll-Rite LLC — Recruited 2 New Members
  • Dale Martens, American Trailer & Storage — Recruited 6 New Members
  • Tracey Maynor, W&B Service Company — Recruited 1 New Member
  • John Princing, Scientific Brake & Equipment — Recruited 1 New Member
  • Geoff Reid, Hendrickson — Recruited 2 New Members
  • Rick Rickman, Ridewell Suspensions — Recruited 1 New Member
  • Jerry Rothwell, Manac Trailers USA — Recruited 1 New Member
  • Greg Smith, Travis Body & Trailer, Inc. — Recruited 1 New Member
  • Jon Short, STOC Trailer — Recruited 6 New Members
  • Jamey Vaughn, Twin State Trailers — Recruited 1 New Member
  • Peter Verbeeck — Recruited 1 New Member.


Dales Martens Presents NTDA 2016-2017 Chairman of the Board Steve Robinson with Recognition Award


Three members retired from the NTDA Board of Directors: 2016-2017 Chairman of the Board Steve Robinson, Allied Director Lyn Simon and Dealer Director Mark Hall. Each were presented with awards recognizing their dedication and commitment to the Association. A $1,000 charitable donation was made in Robinson’s honor to the American Cancer Society.

Mat Box, Selfie Contest Winner


The Awards Dinner rounded out with several prize drawings.

  • Karen Millsap, spouse of John Millsap with Ridewell Suspensions, won a Gift Basket and Gift Certificate to the Spa at The Broadmoor.
  • Jeff Barber, President of Interstate Utility Trailer, won free golf in the NTDA’s 28th Annual Golf Tournament at The Broadmoor.
  • Pierre Labelle, President of Pierquip, Inc., won registration for a member and his or her spouse, which includes golf or an optional tour.
  • Mat Box with Transport Trailer Sales, Inc. won a “Selfie Contest” that includes registration for a member and a spouse or guest, plus golf or an optional tour, airfare and two night’s hotel stay at The Broadmoor.
  • Donovan Sarka, Sales Manager for Great Western Leasing & Sales, won the final Grand Prize Drawing that includes registration for a member and a spouse or guest, plus golf or an optional tour, airfare and two night’s hotel stay at The Broadmoor.