My motivation for service

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

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

When I sold my first vehicle and piece of truck equipment, I knew this was the industry for me. It was exciting then and even more so now, given all the fantastic products and technology on the market. 

I’ve found the industry rewarding in many ways — from the challenges of solving customer problems or satisfying their vocational needs to delivering a completed vehicle, demonstrating its operation and seeing it out in the field. No two customers are the same, and I think this has kept the business from becoming stale for me. 

Over the years, I’ve seen people with strong tribal knowledge and hands-on experience retire, leaving a definite void that’s challenging to fill with less seasoned staff. I’ve also seen people enter the business with zero experience, only to leave a short time later.   

Related: The post-millennial workforce

Witnessing industry consolidation and an aging workforce is a concern. I’ve wondered what we’re going to do when these people leave and if there’s a plan. Pondering these questions, I realized I wanted to find a way to make a difference. These thought processes also validated for me that one of my main focuses should be industry recruitment and training. My desire was to find a way to share my career experiences — both the good and bad.

Related: Training — Essential to success

For me, Board service was the next step. My goal is to contribute to preserving the quality and health of the commercial vehicle community. I saw Board service as an opportunity to positively influence industry change and support the Association and its membership. I want to do my part to give back.

People ask me what Board service entails and want to know the level of commitment involved. I start out by saying that Board service is about selflessness, open-mindedness, patient yet visionary, engaged and strategic, with the goal of bettering industry health. Frankly, it’s about everything beyond the walls of your business. Board service can be challenging, but it’s also satisfying when projects that benefit the industry’s overall growth and health get across the finish line. It’s important to note Board service provides a rewarding intellectual opportunity. It can be dramatically different than typical operational roles; you have to look at the Association and industry in a more holistic manner and develop a deeper understanding of short- and long-term issues. 

Now that I’m in my final year of Board service, I look back on the many memories, accomplishments and learning opportunities. I see the long list of projects we’ve brought to fruition and those still in play that will continue to evolve long after my term has expired. When it’s all said and done, I’m confident I will have made a difference for the good of the industry; and for me, that’s worthwhile. 

Time to act
So, is Board service right for you? Do you have an interest in serving now or in the future? NTEA’s Board nomination process is currently open for 2020–2021 positions; the submission deadline is Sept. 27, 2019. The election itself begins in December. Visit for details.

If you have feedback or questions about the nomination process or upcoming election, I encourage you to contact Steve Carey, NTEA president & CEO (248-479-8912 or