Giving thanks

By Adam Keane, NTEA President
Executive Vice-President, Allied Body Works Inc. (Seattle, Washington)

This article was published in the November 2017 edition of NTEA News.

In the U.S., Thanksgiving is a national holiday, but it’s celebrated in slightly different ways around the country. Rather consistently throughout the U.S., schools teach children about Thanksgiving by remembering the 1621 celebration in Plymouth. Americans can easily visualize schoolkids with art projects of turkeys, gourds and fall colors. When I think of Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of those staples in my life like “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” football, local Turkey Bowl games against friends in the mud, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and the shopping craze that starts the next day in preparation for the holiday season.

As we get ready for this coming Thanksgiving, I wanted to reflect on why I am so thankful to be a part of the work truck industry. Our industry is important. During President’s Breakfast at The Work Truck Show® 2017, David Bowden hit the nail on the head by sharing a unique analogy. To recap, he told a story about an apprentice and his master guitar builder. After the apprentice learned the trade, the master builder asked him one final question: “What do we build?” The apprentice answered with “guitars,” but the response was wrong in the eyes of the master as they were really builders of music and dreams. Building instruments allows music to flow from the musicians’ dreams into the world. Relating this account to our industry, he explained we do not just build and sell trucks; we supply the ability for everything to be accomplished — poetic but powerful. Our industry is important to the whole world, supporting people’s way of life. 

Our industry is vast, yet we are close. Recently, I was talking with one of our vendors. We identified that, while our industry may not seem as glamorous as others, once people learn what we do collectively and recognize the closeness within the industry, they tend to stay. Maybe this occurs as stakeholders realize the influence the industry has on the world, its level of innovation and creativity, or its significance to continued progress.

I often tell people that I fell into the industry — despite being part of a four-generation company. Growing up, it was never my plan to work for Allied Body Works Inc. There were all sorts of directions I thought I wanted to go, but I didn’t realize the opportunities right in front of me. When I made the decision to come work for my uncle to provide job security and stability for my future family, it was clear within months that it was a good fit. 

I belong in our industry and am thankful for our company employing a staff that still enjoys working with their hands. In addition, I’m thankful for our staff’s motivation in discovering customer needs in order for our clients to complete their work. I am grateful for the pride our employees have in always trying to improve quality and streamline processes. The fact that we are able to provide our staff with a career and be part of their lives is meaningful to me. 

As you prepare for this Thanksgiving season, I challenge you to ponder what you appreciate about your company and consider what makes you thankful to be part of the work truck industry.