Ryan Snyder chuckles when he recalls his mother’s reaction to the fast-paced secondary school years he and his sister experienced while growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta.
“My mom always joked if my sister and I came home telling her we signed up for another thing at school, she was going to kill us, because we signed up for everything,” said Snyder, now the Truckload Carriers Association’s membership manager. “I ran track and cross country, wrestled (he lettered and was a captain in all three) and did the morning announcement video show, and,” he said taking a quick breath, “did the sound mixing for the annual musical play.”
One might say busyness and being curious about everything has played well for the 30-year-old Snyder, who now finds his days filled with conversations with TCA members who turn to the association for help improving their businesses.
Had Snyder followed his initial intentions, however, he might be in an operating room rather than an office.
“I wanted to be a doctor and actually applied and was accepted into pre-med classes, but I ended up changing my plans,” shared Snyder. “After going through grade, middle, and high school for 12 years, the idea of having to go to medical school and then do all the residencies — I didn’t want to be starting a career when I reached the mid-30s.”
Intrigued by the recruiting films he saw during his visits to colleges, his professional aspirations changed.
He thought for a couple of years about becoming a film director, but eventually graduated from the University of Alabama in 2013 with a major in communications and minor in political science.
His first job out of college was a territory sales representative for a telecommunications company that no longer exists. He knew it was a dead-end career when he found out the internet packages he was selling were priced three times higher and offered less performance and features than the company’s main competition.
“I had the most success with people who had outages and were upset with their current provider,” said Snyder. “What I did learn was the power of saying ‘no’ and keeping persistent.”
The job lasted about seven months before he landed a job as legislative assistant for United Parcel Service (UPS) where his father was employed as an engineer.
It was his professional introduction to the transportation industry, which had been a long-time fascination.
At UPS, Snyder attended Congressional hearings, prepared and presented executive-level presentations and policy memos on surface transportation, postal reform, aviation, trade, pensions, and veteran affairs. He also implemented comprehensive training programs for Congressional key contact participants, among many other things.
An opportunity arose to further his transportation career when he joined the American Trucking Associations (ATA) as manager of federation relations and grassroots programs.
There, among other things, Snyder managed ATA’s Call on Washington program, an executive fly-in program, that attracted 450-plus members annually for education and relationship building on Capitol Hill. He established an industry scorecard tracking key votes, policy updates, and industry news that impacted ATA members, and maintained communications, built relationships, and increased engagement with the state trucking association executives.
He stepped away from trucking for a little more than a year to be the political affairs manager for the American Association of Life Underwriters (AALU), a trade association dedicated to the life insurance industry, but found out he’d left the love of his career — trucking.
“I quickly realized how much I missed the trucking industry,” said Snyder. “My heart was with trucking.”
He joined TCA in October 2020.
“I think the most exciting part of my job is working with the members,” he said. “This might sound cliché, but trucking really is the nation’s backbone. The ability to work with these members and help them improve their businesses and improve their safety is crucial. They help Americans get the stuff that they need when they need it, whether it would be food and supplies at the grocery store or the COVID-19 vaccine. It’s an honor to be working with people who are making the world a better place.”
Snyder said one of the aspects TCA members appreciate is the educational outreach.
“They really appreciate the programs about how to make their business grow and how they can improve safety,” said Snyder. “They also like the ability to meet with their colleagues and to discuss best practices. There is no doubt they view TCA’s value as extraordinary.”
As for the future of trucking in North America, Snyder says it is “upwards and onwards.”
“Think back to the beginning of the pandemic, when you went to the grocery store and nothing was stocked and there was no toilet paper on the shelf,” recalled Snyder. “Our members and our industry were the ones who worked day and night tirelessly to haul goods to bring the supply chain up to meet demands. I think, if anything, that proved how important this industry is to the day-to-day lives of every American. I can’t see the industry going anywhere but up and up.”
Do TCA members share Snyder’s optimism?
“Yes, absolutely,” he said. “With the vaccines that have been approved, they believe we’re heading toward a more normal life. That is also how we at TCA are viewing it. Optimistically, this year is going to be going back to normal.”
Snyder appreciates the camaraderie of the industry, and especially the cooperative spirit of TCA members.
“It is not cutthroat,” he said. “Everybody wants the best for one another, and everyone wants to lift each other up.”
After seven years and five professional positions, Snyder is not about to leave the trucking industry.
“TCA is definitely my home,” he said.
Lyndon Finney’s publishing career spans over 55 years beginning with a reporter position with the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1965. Since then he’s been a newspaper editor at the Southwest Times Record, served five years as assistant managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock and from November 2004 through December 2019 served as editor of The Trucker. Between newspaper jobs he spent 14 years as director of communications at Baptist Health, Arkansas’ largest healthcare system. In addition to his publishing career he served for 46 years as organist at Little Rock’s largest Baptist church.