NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The speed of change is faster than it has ever been in the history, and the Truckload Carriers Association has to spend as much or more time working on its future, as it does on what is happening currently, the incoming TCA chairman told delegates at the association’s 79th annual convention Tuesday.
“Our new horizon may not be one we are familiar with, but it is one we can shape,” said Rob Penner, president and CEO of Canadian-based Bison Transport who will serve as chairman 2017-2018. “To use a trucking analogy, we need to decide if we are going to be the truck or the trailer. We can choose to be the trailer, and follow along the path others are taking us down, or… we can choose to be the truck. To be the truck, we need to be actively involved in managing our own path. We must map the route that will take us to where we want to go. Charting the path for others to follow puts us at the front of the line to lead, and provides us the opportunity to tell our story over and over again.”
The new mantra of the association is a four-legged stool, TCA President John Lyboldt told delegates in his address just before Penner took the podium. The stool represents the interests of truckload carrier sand centers on TCA members and the organization’s ability to deliver value to those members, increase their profitability, help them speak as the voice of truckload, and to help them retain a skilled workforce.
To support organizational growth and development, Penner announced the formation of a strategic task force charged with developing a TCA position paper to address issues affecting productivity, profitability and the movement of freight across North America.
“Our policies on most major issues are pretty clear, but what is not clear is what is rooted behind these policies,” Penner said during his speech accepting his new position. “Policies alone do not adequately provide the background color, context, and rationale that went into the development and adoption of a policy.”
To be credible, TCA needs more than a concluding statement, it needs to share the whole story, “share what we want and why we want it. Where we have to defend, we must offer real alternatives for our regulators and lawmakers, not just a yes or no.”
Penner called TCA an organization that is progressive, one that embraces change and one that is heavily invested in its future.
“We are preparing for and contemplative of the everchanging business landscape and the rapid advancements of technology,” he said. “We want and need a seat at the table, and the only way we get that is if we are viewed as a thoughtful partner, capable of presenting meaningful, viable and sustainable solutions to complex problems, and that we back our position with truth and fact.”
Penner reminded delegates that TCA is the voice of truckload.
“As that voice, I challenge you to be more active and to be more engaged,” he said. “Engaged in the current activities and opportunities within the association, and engaged in bringing many more of our fellow truckload carriers — those currently not in this room — into this association.”
Penner began his career in the transportation industry in 1984 as a professional truck driver and joined Bison Transport in 1991, moving through all aspects of operations. He was appointed vice president, operations, in 1998 and was promoted to his current role in January 2017.
An active participant in the transportation community, Penner has served on the board of directors for both the Toronto and Ontario trucking associations and the Trucking Profitability Strategies Advisory Board at the University of Georgia-Athens. He has also been a member of numerous other working committees and advisory boards, and is active with the American Trucking Associations.
For TCA, Penner has been involved in numerous capacities. He chaired the Regulatory Policy Committee from 2010-11 and is a past member of the Highway Policy committee, the Benchmarking Best Practices Group, and the Financial Oversight and Long-Range Planning Task Force. A member of the organization’s executive committee and board of directors, he has also held the positions of treasurer, at-large officer, and first vice chair.
Penner will lead TCA until the next Annual Convention, scheduled for March 25-28, 2018, at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida.
The following individuals will assist Penner as TCA’s officers:
Officers at large include John Elliott, CEO, Load One, Taylor, Michigan; Dave Williams, executive vice president, Knight Transportation, Phoenix; Roy Cox, president, Best Logistics Group, Kernersville, North Carolina; and Michael Eggleton Jr., vice president, Raider Express, Fort Worth, Texas.