Changing seasons

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

This article was published in the November 2019 edition of NTEA News.

When I think about what professionally motivates me, it starts with the many events NTEA provides its membership and the commercial vehicle community. Each year, the industry goes through its own change of seasons. First, there’s The Work Truck Show®, an event where you can take in 500,000-plus square feet of the most exciting commercial vehicle products in North America. Not to mention, there’s a plethora of relevant educational sessions.

Following the Show, a new selling season shifts into gear as we all look to market our unique products and services. Then, in September, we regroup at Truck Product Conference to see the next generation of chassis offered by top OEMs. It’s great for a guy like me who is excited by vehicle design and the integration with the products we manufacture. It’s exhilarating to see the latest innovations and hear from engineering experts who build them. It’s a breath of fresh air and leaves me eager for what’s around the next corner. 

When September draws to a close, Executive Leadership Summit rolls in. This is one of the most beneficial days on my schedule. The Summit is where I can network with industry executives — decision-makers in the commercial truck equipment realm. Experts provide a sharper, more in-depth look at the industry’s current and future position. I love the exposure to operational and strategic topics like workforce development, geopolitical strategies and customer experience. Presentations are data-based and thought-provoking, driving discussion based on experiences of folks in the room. It’s rare to find this type of forum nowadays when we are usually part of the masses.

Exhibit hall at The Work Truck Show 2019.

I’ve met fascinating people at the Summit and developed relationships I value immensely. What I’ve learned has been instrumental to my personal and professional growth. Some of the recent presentations helped me understand the preparation associated with workforce development efforts, including recruitment, retention and even succession planning.

Attending the Summit should be viewed as an investment in yourself and your company. It’s an educational event that forces you to grow, be agile and think long-range. The dynamic one-day program is beneficial as it makes the most of a short window of time. Designed to be respectful of attendees with tight calendars, it still allows ample time for networking.

I have attended many of these, and looking back, I can truly say I’ve benefited in ways I didn’t anticipate. Over the years, it’s helped me think about Safe Fleet more strategically. In fact, I continue to bring more of our team to this empowering event so they can be exposed to the rich content, make meaningful business connections, and return to operations energized and equipped to make improvements in how we do business. The ROI is immediate. 

Next month’s issue of NTEA News will feature a recap of the 2019 event, which took place Oct. 15 in Charlotte, North Carolina. I encourage you to review conference photos at, and save the date for 2020 (Oct. 20 in Baltimore, Maryland). See you there.