By Todd Davis, NTEA President
Phenix Truck Bodies & Van Equipment
This article was published in the June 2018 edition of NTEA News.
I was recently asked if NTEA membership is worth it. The Association provides value to companies within our industry in multiple ways. However, each organization views, uses and values NTEA services differently, so such a seemingly simple question has a compound answer. Without question, being part of the Association has made a tangible difference for me, my company and the entire team at Phenix Truck Bodies & Van Equipment, individually and professionally. I’d like to share a few ways we’ve benefited, detailing the offerings in hopes that you can relate and find some ideas for maximizing your partnership with NTEA.
Clearly, networking and continuous interaction within our industry is critical to all organizations. NTEA regularly creates opportunities for the industry to “get out of the office” and come together for events like The Work Truck Show®, Executive Leadership Summit and Truck Product Conference. These events give us all a chance to not only make professional contacts in a cost- and time-efficient way, but also nurture, build and/or create new relationships. It’s exciting that these touchpoints often unexpectedly and positively affect multiple segments of Phenix operations. Contacts at these events are not limited to meeting existing partners; we’re regularly discovering organizations that support our business in unique ways (e.g., marketing, data, strategy, sales training and production training) or identify potential new market segments and opportunities. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of running a business. We consistently remind ourselves: “Good things happen when you get out from behind your desk.” NTEA provides exceptional opportunities when you make the time. The relationships I’ve formed from regularly participating in these forums have been a tremendous asset to our business growth and greatly contributed to my personal sense of fulfillment in the industry.
Another part of NTEA’s value proposition for Phenix is how the Association provides opportunities to support and challenge the way we currently think about our business and the industry. We can all admit listening to other perspectives creates opportunities to evaluate our own business strategies and daily support/operational activities. Exposure to content at events like Executive Leadership Summit (as you may have gathered, one of my personal favorites) has changed our approach toward multiple segments of our business operations. From candid market outlooks by multiple sources to out-of-the-box perspective on workforce development, each time, I gain insights I can immediately go back and implement at the office. Not to mention, the energy generated from being immersed in an industry information exchange with your peers has an immeasurable effect and makes the trip worth the investment every time.
My experience on NTEA’s Board has enhanced my awareness of how the Association represents its constituency. NTEA maintains a government relations department with offices in Washington, DC, and Ottawa, Ontario, because protecting and advancing member interests by actively working with Congress, the White House, Parliament and federal agencies is essential. Dedicated staff build relationships, monitor and report on the changing dynamics in North America, and lobby on behalf of the work truck industry.
Another perk of being part of the NTEA family is high-level support in conformance efforts. If a question comes up in engineering or on our shop floor, the team knows the Association’s technical support staff is just a quick phone call away. This has been a vital resource on many occasions. With more than 50 years of combined industry experience, the Association’s staff engineers provide in-depth solutions to technical issues. Beyond this, there’s a host of relevant tools just a click away on ntea.com that speak to specific topics, like FMVSS 111. In fact, at The Work Truck Show 2018, I hope many of you were able to participate as NTEA conducted live test demonstrations of how companies can conform to rear visibility system requirement changes.
Content was timely, and creation of the tool essential, considering full conformance was necessary in the U.S. by May 2018 — less than two months later. The Phenix team recognizes real value knowing NTEA is working to support our business daily, helping us with technical challenges and awareness of relevant regulatory and compliance issues.
As we all face a variety of staffing issues, workforce development is an ongoing priority for NTEA. The Association provides comprehensive educational and professional development resources to enhance and support our internal team. Members, which include all company employees, can join any of the webinars. NTEA has recently been offering a series dedicated to workforce development and training. Beyond this, Generation Next gives new industry professionals support in building peer relationships in the commercial vehicle community.
Truck Equipment 101, the Association’s online training course, helps member companies train employees and raise productivity by providing a macro industry view to increase understanding of the industry and how their company fits into the mix. This program covers all aspects of work trucks and the industry, from chassis and powertrains to bodies and cab styles. It’s made up of
15 modules, providing an industry overview, insight into systems that make up a truck, and basic regulatory requirements applicable to U.S. and Canadian markets. I can personally attest to its value. Without question, training expenses add up fast, so tools like these, which come as part of membership, make a difference to our growth and bottom line.
On an ongoing basis, NTEA delivers trusted and timely tools to the industry. For example, the newly released Vehicle Center of Gravity and Axle Weight Calculator is a web-based, interactive tool, which provides vehicle specification and weight information. When upfitting or modifying a vehicle, these calculations provide weight distribution information for internal use and sharing with customers, and assist in understanding Federal Bridge Law — both in spec’ing prior to purchase and after upfitting is complete. This user-friendly tool will aid those in your company who are responsible for weight distribution and center of gravity calculations.
Wherever your company fits into the commercial vehicle community, NTEA membership provides a multitude of services to help take your organization to the next level. The Association has experienced impressive growth because companies like mine know this is where the distinctiveness of the industry is understood, represented and supported. If you have any questions on what I’ve discussed, contact NTEA’s team at 800-441-6832 or firstname.lastname@example.org.