By Frank Livas
Brake & Clutch, Inc. (Salem, MA)
As I usually mention at some point in each of my columns, the NTEA offers a wide array of programs and resources to help industry companies grow and prosper. What I haven’t mentioned, though, is that one of the greatest benefits of membership is intangible. You can’t touch it, draw it or describe it. It’s a concept that can be summed up in one word: access.
The NTEA offers access to so much information — and the best part is, it’s continuously updated. I know this for a fact because my company takes advantage of the ability to access everything from industry data and interpretations to individual personnel contact information for member businesses.
For instance, my company has access to personal assistance from NTEA’s experienced staff engineers. They can help you find answers and solutions to all of your technical and engineering-related issues. Do you have questions on body and equipment installation? Need to figure out whether Federal Excise Tax applies to the sale of your truck body? Or, do you need to know which certification label to use when upfitting a particular vehicle? The expertise of the NTEA’s Technical Services Department is available to members Monday–Friday from 8:00am–5:00pm simply by calling 1-800-441-6832. If you haven’t taken advantage of this amazing resource, I highly recommend you call this number.
The NTEA also offers access to a huge amount of industry-specific market data and statistics, including insights and interpretations from the NTEA’s economist, Steve Latin-Kasper. Now, I’m not talking about a small compilation of data — there is a whole library of information on NTEA.com. By logging in, you can see regularly-updated reports on truck sales, housing starts, metals prices, fuel prices, box-off sales and shipment statistics, and much more.
Aside from the obvious need for data, another reason I rely on the NTEA.com for this information is to get a true understanding of what everything means. Instead of looking at chart after chart and trying to determine what the data is telling me, I can read an analysis of current activity and future trends. When time is of the essence (which it usually is), I can’t tell you how much I appreciate being able to get a quick handle on where the markets are headed. Also, if I need further explanation, it’s great to know that I can simply call Steve Latin-Kasper at (248) 479-8193 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
While statistics and analyses are certainly necessities for every company in this industry, people are equally important resources. This is where the NTEA’s online Networking Directory comes in, offering the ability to find contact information for key industry colleagues. By visiting www.ntea.com/Directory/networking.aspx (and logging in), you can access a user-friendly search engine that houses contact information for more than 10,000 professionals employed by member companies, including sales, operations and even support staff. Once you start, you might be surprised at how much you end up using this specialized search to make new business connections or even to help renew previous relationships.
News and Updates
In addition to relying on the Networking Directory for finding industry contacts, I have also come to depend on the NTEA’s monthly print newsletter and timely e-newsletters for key industry topics and updates. For example, NTEA News features regular columns, written by experts, on technical issues, legislative and regulatory updates, market forecasts, Federal Excise Tax, fleet relations tips, member company news, industry events, and more. The ideas for these articles aren’t just drawn from a hat every month, either — they are actually chosen based on current questions and issues. So, if the Technical Services Department happens to receive several questions on a specific topic, they will actually write about it for the upcoming edition.
As mentioned, NTEA also sends regular e-newsletters that share up-to-the-minute information. Read the NTEA Insider to find out about Association conferences and events, webinars, programs and services, member news, and more. Or get the latest economic and industry updates from the NTEA Industry News Brief. And don’t forget about Washington Update, which reports on critical issues on Capitol Hill that may affect the industry and your company. Also, once Work Truck Show time rolls around, Work Truck Show News is a key resource for answering your questions on registration, hotels, special events, and anything else you may need to know. Of course, though, you can always call the NTEA at 1-800-441-6832 for prompt personal assistance as well.
While I can’t address every single way in which the NTEA offers access to information, there is one more I would like to bring up which has been particularly helpful to my company. Each year, the Association conducts a number of surveys and compiles reports from the information collected. These include reports on manufacturer and distributor compensation and financial benchmarking, which are available in the “Shop NTEA” section of NTEA.com. The reports on “Shop NTEA” are an aggregate summary of the results — companies that choose to participate in the actual surveys receive individual assessments and comparisons as well, so you may find it worth your while to submit your company data for the surveys when the time comes.
The Association also conducts bi-annual surveys (via an online platform) on how industry firms are handling current business conditions. The NTEA uses the results to determine the major issues impacting organizations and where companies are headed regarding sales, backlogs, hiring and production capacity. This information, and accompanying interpretations, is very useful in regard to future business planning and operational decisions.
By taking advantage of such access to information, you can give your company more leverage to stay on top of the market and remain competitive, as well as help ensure that you make the most informed choices going forward.
For more information on everything that is available from the NTEA, contact Jim Hamilton, NTEA sales and services manager, at (248) 479-8154.