A year to remember

Wm. Craig Bonham
NTEA Board Chairman
Vice President, Commercial Vehicle
Safe Fleet
Belton, Missouri

This article was published in the February 2020 edition of NTEA News.

My term as NTEA Board chairman is quickly coming to a close. What a phenomenal year it’s been. My experience over the last five years with this special group of industry leaders has been nothing short of remarkable. I’ve been able to engage high-performing professionals on our shared goal of making the commercial vehicle community better. Reflecting on this unforgettable journey reminded me why it’s a priority for me to serve.

Making enduring connections was an unintended byproduct of becoming a Board member. There’s a wide range of perspectives represented among this group, which has been crucial to prioritizing projects that matter to the membership. This diversity is a benefit, especially considering the professional nature in which everyone expresses their viewpoints. Our mutual aim of furthering NTEA’s mission is the unifying factor. Getting involved in committee work (including the Data, Finance & Investment, and Education Committees) has been a rewarding aspect, enabling me to see how others come together to advocate for relevant, practical support for companies of all sizes.

During my time on the Education Committee, some exciting initiatives were brought to fruition. For example, in 2017, we launched the popular Truck Equipment 101 — an introductory course made up of 15 online modules, designed to overview the work truck industry, systems that make up a truck, and basic regulatory requirements applicable for U.S. and Canadian markets. Then, in February 2019, we released the first TE201 module, reviewing U.S., Canadian and European Union certification processes and U.S./Canadian label requirements, as well as the influence of motor vehicle safety standards. TE201 is an education series, designed for those with technical knowledge but seeking deeper understanding of specific topics. In September 2019, the second TE201 module covering commercial vehicle powertrains was released to the industry. Since then, we’ve launched a course on calibrations, emissions and fuel economy and another on powertrain systems, with more modules coming down the pipeline. I’ve found these courses so applicable to our day-to-day work that I’ve made them mandatory for my team. 

Next month, at the 20th anniversary Work Truck Show, we’re celebrating the evolution of North America’s largest work truck event. It’s become the go-to industry event, with the newest products from hundreds of exhibiting companies, educational programs delivered by experts and opportunities to interact with thousands of industry professionals. Take it from me — this is a must-attend for us, and this year will be even more important given some of the surfacing industry trends and direction.

Last year, NTEA debuted Manufacturer and Distributor Innovation Conference at The Work Truck Show — an event helping commercial truck manufacturers, upfitters, distributors and body builders learn how to improve manufacturing efficiency and business results using the latest techniques and technology. Looking at the content lineup for 2020, I have a feeling the second year of this conference will be even better than the first. 

These are only a few examples of new education and training initiatives. It’s exciting to think about all that’s been accomplished in a short amount of time, and I know more great offerings are in store for the membership and industry.

While on the Data Committee, I was exposed to development of WorkTruckCert – An NTEA & Dec-O-Art Resource. This cloud-based program, released in February 2019, has been designed to streamline the completion and printing of certification labels. The system archives vehicle records and helps companies document conformance with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-required safety standards. Following a successful launch, there have been several platform updates to support the user community, including integration with IHS Markit for important market data indicators. Seeing this program come to life has been especially gratifying.

While Board service may seem involved, the reward of knowing you’ve made a difference easily outweighs the time commitment. Seeing dialogue transform into action and effect change for members and the industry fills me with genuine satisfaction.

At the 2020 NTEA Annual Meeting, I’ll overview more Association highlights that have transpired over the past year. It’s a privilege to have been part of some special industry moments in the last five-year period. Together, we hit new milestones, and I know there are big plans in store for the year ahead. No doubt, the best is yet to come.

Wrapping up, I have to thank my Safe Fleet team for their work behind the scenes on my behalf, affording me the time and energy to effectively manage my Board commitments and serve as chairman. Additionally, I’d like to thank my family for their unwavering support during my Board service.

For those reading this issue, I recommend considering Board service; it’s broadened my view of the commercial vehicle community and helped me understand industry dynamics in a fresh way. As I officially conclude this chapter of NTEA leadership, I’ll still be supporting the cause and championing the vision for industry progress.