Competitors at heart, fleets come together to share ideas at National Private Truck Council conference

Gary Petty, president and CEO of the National Private Truck Council, speaks during the opening general session at the the 2019 Annual Education Management Conference and Exhibition. ( Photo: Brian Straight/FreightWaves)

Gary Petty, president and CEO of the National Private Truck Council, speaks during the opening general session at the the 2019 Annual Education Management Conference and Exhibition. (Photo: Brian Straight/FreightWaves)

Gary Petty, president and CEO of the National Private Truck Council (NPTC), struck a tone of family and togetherness in his opening remarks of the organization’s 2019 Annual Education Management Conference and Exhibition, on Sunday at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, in Cincinnati, Ohio. The conference continued later in the day and will run through Tuesday at the Duke Energy Center down the block from the Hilton.

Petty, though, sought to bring the over 1,200 attendees – including approximately 200 first-time attendees – to a common place at the official start of the conference.

“This is a relationship-based organization,” Petty said, echoing a theme that several presenters also hit on.

“What always brings me back, and what I love about NPTC, is all of you,” Carol Heinowski, logistics manager- safety and compliance, for grocer Meijer, and current chair of the NPTC board, said in her welcoming address. “We all have competitors, but in this space, we are not competitors. We share ideas, we share best practices. Within this space, in NPTC, we can learn from each other.”

Petty reviewed how NPTC, now in its 80th year, came to be. It started in the 1930s when the American Trucking Associations (ATA), was formed, he said.

“The market in the 30s was that anyone who wanted to drive a truck could get a license,” Petty said. That eventually led to regulation as safety and training became concerns. The ATA initially included both public and private fleets before a movement began in the late 1930s to ask Congress for legislation that would ban manufacturers from running their own trucks.

“It would put private fleets out of business,” Petty said.

The movement was stopped, but the private fleets broke away and formed their own organization, NPTC, which remained an advocacy group until 25 years ago. The decision was made, Petty said, to shift the focus to more of an educational and training organization.

“We decided the best thing to do was to create an education forum to help private fleets [establish their value],” he said, noting that even today, private fleets often have to bid on loads from their parent companies, competing against for-hire carriers that may have more capacity or leaner operations

“We are still a divided industry,” Petty said, “…and it’s tough competition out there.”

Twenty-five years ago, NPTC formed the Certified Transportation Professional (CTP) program as a way to enhance and further the mission of building value for private fleets. After graduating its latest class on Sunday, there are now more than 1,700 recognized CTPs with more than 690 of them still active in the industry.

“These classes continue to get better and better,” Mari Roberts, CTP, senior director of transportation for Frito-Lay, and Board of Governors Chair, said, in announcing the 2019 CTP Class of 90 graduates, led by the CTP Top Graduate, T.J. Mummert, logistics analyst of ProVia Logistics. J.J. Keller & Associates sponsors the CTP program.

The three-day conference features panel discussions and best practice sessions as well as an exhibit hall. As Petty urged all the attendees to mingle, meet other attendees and share business cards, he jokingly uttered perhaps the best piece of advice any attendee will receive all week: “Just make sure you don’t hand them someone else’s business card.”

During the Sunday welcoming general session, NPTC also recognized its Professional Leadership Award winners. Mike Schwersenska, director of transportation and logistics for Brakebush Transportation, was named the Private Fleet Executive of the Year. The Private Fleet Member of the Year was Brian Johnson, senior director of transportation for Core-Mark International.

Winning Private Fleet Safety Professional of the Year was Keith Frantz, DOT compliance manager, ADM Trucking. There are two NPTC Excellence in Membership Awards. Winning the Allied award was Gina Vecchioni, national account sales executive for Paccar Leasing Company; while Andrea Viele, group transportation manager for Nestle USA, was named Excellence in Membership-Fleet award winner.

The Allied Member of the Year is Trimble and Scott Willert, president of America’s Service Line, collected the award for NPTC Excellence in Backhauling.