ATD chairman: ‘Change will come with or without us’

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Updated Feb 7, 2012

In his last speech as chairman of the American Truck Dealers, Utah commercial truck dealer Kyle Treadway urged dealers to embrace the many changes affecting heavy- and medium-duty truck retailing, including the introduction of new federal regulations, technological advances and the entrance of a younger generation of future dealers.

Treadway, president of Kenworth Sales Co. in Salt Lake City, has served as chairman of ATD since 2009. Ford dealer Richard Witcher, president of Minuteman Trucks Inc. in Walpole, Mass., began a two-year term as ATD chairman during ATD’s 49th annual Convention & Expo, which concluded Monday, Feb. 6, in conjunction with the NADA convention in Las Vegas, Nev.

“Modern technology is more powerful than we all realized,” Treadway said during the convention’s opening general session. “And change will come with or without our cooperation.”

With the Federal Highway Administration predicting freight volumes that could double by 2035 and the government wielding greater control over distribution, Treadway said dealers must be ready to adjust their business model to better support their customers, who increasingly are bearing the weight of questionable such as new hours of service, Comprehensive Safety Analysis and fuel economy rules.

“We need to understand the long-range ramifications of these dynamics and comprehend how to adapt,” Treadway said. “What customer service extras will become ‘must haves’? How will we price our products and transact our services?”

Another challenge facing today’s commercial truck dealers is preparing dealers of the future for successful careers in the trucking industry. Treadway urged dealers to “beef up” their management training programs in an effort to attract future leaders now in their 20s and 30s.

Under Treadway’s leadership, ATD launched a “NextGen” program at its 2011 convention aimed at preparing the dealers of tomorrow by connecting them to other dealers with similar backgrounds and giving them the tools to share ideas and improve their business operations. Since then, the group has grown to include representatives from suppliers and OEMs as well as future dealers. Katie Hopkins of Truck Centers Inc. in Troy, Ill., is the group’s chairwoman.

“Putting together the resources of ATD and NADA with these future dealers and managers is an intriguing process, and it’s been a wonder to behold,” Treadway said. “I can’t wait to see what they create.”

Witcher encouraged members to inform themselves about relevant state and local legislative initiatives, help nurture the next generation of dealers and set future industry standards. He also is committed to increasing ATD membership from 80 percent to 90 percent, which is what NADA represents for automobile dealers.

Witcher said he hopes to continue ATD’s commitment to be proactive rather than reactive. He asked all ATD dealers to help him set the pace for excellence.

In other ATD Convention news:

• Terry Dotson, president, chairman and CEO of Prestonburg, Ky.-based Worldwide Equipment Enterprises, was named the 2012 Truck Dealer of the Year. Nominees are evaluated on several categories, including dealership performance, civic contributions and industry leadership. A panel of professors from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business chose the winner and runner-up. The runner-up was John Arscott, president and CEO of The Pete Store in Baltimore; and
• The winners of the Commercial Truck of the Year award were the Peterbilt 587 SmartWay conventional tractor in the heavy-duty division and the Peterbilt Model 210 low cab forward in the medium-duty competition. Nine trucks were nominated for the award, including the heavy-duty Freightliner 114SD conventional dump truck, International ProStar Plus tractor with MaxxForce 15 engine and Kenworth T660 Regional Hauler with Paccar MX engine; and the medium-duty Mitsubishi Fuso Canter FE160 low cab forward, Isuzu NPR-HD Gas, Kenworth T440 Conventional and UD 2600 low cab forward. Judges considered the trucks’ overall appearance, cab comfort, noise levels, roominess and other factors.