Trucking Must Move Now To Change Image
If it wants to continue to improve its public image, the trucking industry must become a “yes” industry, the chairman of the Truckload Carriers Association said Monday.
“We must start becoming an association and industry of yes,” TCA Chairman Gary Salisbury told delegates at the opening session of the organization’s annual meeting. “We can’t say ‘no,’ that’s not going to work.” If it wants to create a positive public image, the industry has to be proactive, whether it’s in the area of Hours of Service, electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs) or independent contractor issues, Salisbury, president and CEO of Fikes Truck Line at Hope, Ark., said.
“We have a lot of innovative people who have set high standards and raised the bar” and the industry must follow the lead of those leaders and develop a mentality that says “don’t worry about it; we will take care of it,” Salisbury said in a passionate plea to convention delegates.
Salisbury, who said he was born a dairy farmer who wanted to be a trucker, told delegates he was a “hard headed country boy who didn’t know anything but to ‘get it done.’”
He said his 81-year-old father instilled in him the values he still lives by today.
“There was no excuse in the dairy business,” he said. “You never called in and said ‘I’m not going to milk those cows today.’”
Much the same, trucking industry executives must grasp the realities of today and not wait until tomorrow to try and improve the industry’s image.
“Public perception drives public policy,” he said in recounting a theme he launched last year when he became chairman during the association’s annual meeting at San Diego.
He challenged the leaders of motor carriers of all sizes to fully understand their business all the way to the front line — the truck cab.
“If you want to understand how that driver works that EOBR or how much he or she sits in traffic, if you don’t have a CDL, get one and if not, ride along and see what happens,” said Salisbury, who himself was an owner-operator at Fikes before joining the management team in the mid 1990s.
That will help executives better understand the types of regulations for which the industry must fight to get implemented, Salisbury said, reminding delegates that regulators implementing many of the rules governing trucking “know absolutely nothing” about trucking.
“I shared with you in San Diego my commitment to a full court press to improve the image of trucking before the general public,” Salisbury said. “I know it’s not realistic to do this in one year, but if we don’t get started, we won’t change minds. We need to take hold of the steering wheel instead of outside forces taking hold of it.”
Salisbury will hand over the chairmanship to Robert Low, president and founder of Prime inc., at the close of the convention Wednesday.