By Adam Keane, NTEA President
Executive Vice-President, Allied Body Works Inc. (Seattle, Washington)
This article was published in the June 2017 edition of NTEA News
Seattle in October starts the rainy season that seems never-ending. About that time each year, NTEA holds its Executive Leadership Summit. In 2016, I made the short voyage down to Las Vegas, Nevada, for my third Summit. I’ve made a commitment to continue taking time to attend this event — not just to avoid the rain — as I find great value in networking with more than 100 of the industry’s brightest minds. I bring this up for two reasons.
- It hasn’t stopped raining in Seattle since October, so sun is on my mind.
- When reflecting on last year’s Summit, I realized 50 percent of the general sessions were data-focused.
In the time I’ve been involved with the truck equipment industry, it has evolved by leaps and bounds. My fellow NTEA Board members and I often comment on how much things have changed in the last decade as compared to the 30 years prior. One of the most prevalent things is the acceptance, use and sharing
At the 2016 Executive Leadership Summit, I found tremendous value in listening to Michael Brown, vice president and economist for Wells Fargo Securities LLC, as he discussed key macroeconomic trends causing significant structural shifts. He highlighted a variety of business investment drivers (inventory levels, gross domestic product, millennials, oil prices, exports, and more) and explained how these dynamics interact to influence the U.S. economy. The potential challenges and opportunities identified gave us a framework to effectively shape business strategies for the coming year.
Another session from last year’s Summit that I found valuable was the industry outlook presented by NTEA’s staff economist and IHS Markit’s director of commercial vehicle solutions. They reviewed key application markets, including analysis by weight class and geographic region. This sector-specific assessment, with forecasts on the construction and government segments, helped me identify how to brace for anticipated market activity. The current status of the economy was clearly presented, and provided important business insights to help companies better prepare for the near future.
These two sessions delivered amazing information, and combined with the other presentations, left me feeling infinitely smarter as I sat on the plane headed back to Seattle. The next morning, amidst grey clouds and windshield wiper weather, I was sitting in front of my computer, and reality set in. I just educated myself, but how do I apply the knowledge to my decision-making and the business?
I believe this is the issue we all face today — no matter the level of sophistication within our organizations. The data we receive, as it relates to a number of different factors, is better and more accessible than in the past.
For the last few years, our business has tried to forecast more accurately than ever before, utilizing different data sources to predict where we see growth and tightening — instead of using the Johnny Carson Carnac the Magnificent method. As I contemplated the information learned at the Summit, I was able to combine data from the macroeconomic forecast and truck market outlook, local vehicle registrations, and our own sales history to more precisely project this comings year’s sales.
With NTEA’s position as a leading provider of work truck industry data and its focus on providing practical resources and market research tools, companies like mine can be better prepared to face the future with confidence. As the Association continues to conduct research initiatives and present industry data (including body and equipment statistics), I hope more companies start considering this content and apply it to their specific situations. I encourage you to explore NTEA’s market data resources (ntea.com/marketdata) and be on the lookout for more to come in the future. The Association’s Data Committee, chaired by Fontaine Modification President Paul Kokalis, is committed to pursuing high-level resources relevant to the membership and industry.
While it may or may not offer me an escape from the rain this fall, I hope to see you on Oct. 24–25, 2017, at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare for the 2017 Executive Leadership Summit. You won’t want to miss out. Visit ntea.com/executivesummit to learn more and register as well as view presentations from last year’s event.