September Spells Back to School and Back to Business for America’s Truck Dealers

By Steve Parker, September 2017

Steve Parker
ATD Chairman
Steve Parker

September rings in the start of a new school year for students all across the country. Teachers are back in session and children and adults alike are busy in classrooms enriching their minds and preparing for a better future. It's not unlike what we, as truck dealers, do every day in our own lives and within our own businesses. Each truck we sell, contributes to our customers' businesses and their goals of a better future. Each challenge we face, presents an opportunity to become stronger and smarter than we were the day before. 

September is a time when we can all benefit from teamwork because while students everywhere went back to school, NADA/ATD went back to Capitol Hill to advocate for the nation's auto and truck dealers. On September 12-13, NADA/ATD hosted its 43rd annual Washington Conference in the heart of the nation's capital. This year, it was attended by nearly 500 participants, including our most politically active members, national board members, and state association leaders. This grass tops gathering of our retail industry highlights the most critical legislative and regulatory issues for both our car and truck dealer constituents. 

Just like a classroom, it is a time when we can put our heads together and learn about our mutual goals and the issues affecting our business. In his keynote speech-and in the spirit of teamwork--NADA Chairman Mark Scarpelli highlighted an issue affecting all truck dealers, the Federal Excise Tax. I commend him for relaying the challenges faced by truck dealers and their customers. He asked those in attendance: “Does your member of Congress know that customers are having a tough time paying the 12% federal excise tax on heavy-duty trucks? Because on top of the FET, they still have to pay state and county taxes…” 

This largely echoes what I have advocated for during ATD's annual Capitol Hill Fly-In in June. Rest assured, our 'lessons' will continually be reinforced in the fall season when Congress releases new legislation that will affect our business. 

Just as students can benefit from a guest lecturer in a classroom, NADA/ATD was proud to host members of Congress during the conference. We heard from Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, just to name a few. They addressed numerous issues that are critical to the industry--from tax reform to recall legislation. As always, the conference culminated with our 'final test' and hundreds of dealers going to Capitol Hill for meetings with congressional representatives where we have a chance to make an impact for our businesses. 

Finally, I'd like to say that nothing makes a bigger impact on our industry than having your participation and engagement. With elections for several ATD board seats imminent in the next month, I'd like to encourage all active and interested dealers to capitalize on your opportunity to serve our great industry. I can tell you personally that there is nothing more rewarding than fighting for our fellow truck dealers, standing up for what we do, and preserving our industry. ATD welcomes your leadership and influence for the greater good of our dealer body. 

September is a busy and essential time for all families. On behalf of ATD, I wish you and your loved ones a productive and successful academic year and a booming season for your businesses! 

Parker is chairman of ATD, a division of NADA in Tysons, Va., which represents 1,800 heavy- and medium-duty truck dealerships. He is president of Baltimore Potomac Truck Centers in Linthicum, Md., which operates five full-service commercial truck dealership locations with Mack, Volvo and Hino Trucks franchises in Maryland and Virginia.