ATD Chairman: ‘Our Voice Needs to be Heard’
ORLANDO, Fla. (Feb. 10, 2013) Dick Witcher, chairman of the American Truck Dealers (ATD) urged the nation's commercial truck dealers to get more involved in their association and build relationships with their members of Congress.
"Truck dealers need to commit to the task of educating and informing people, most importantly our elected officials, of who we are and what our purpose is," said Witcher in remarks during the ATD Convention and Expo. "They need to have a deeper understanding of our business and the economic engine it is."
Witcher, chief executive officer of Minuteman Trucks in Walpole, Mass., said it is vital that members of Congress visit truck dealerships and get a hands-on look at what dealers accomplish every day. "If we don't do that, how can we complain when regulations that don't suit us are enacted?" he added.
"Those who legislate need to understand the commercial trucking business before they can regulate it," Witcher said. "Far too many good intentions have essentially backfired and hurt those that the regulation was originally designed to help."
For example, Witcher said previous EPA emissions regulations that were intended to help clean the air and increase fuel mileage increased the cost of a new truck by $10,000 to $25,000 due to cost of complying with the regulation. The unintended consequence was that truck owners held on to their trucks longer which resulted in decreasing sales and lost jobs, and trucks on the road did not have the safety features, cleaner exhaust and latest fuel economy technology that the new models had, he added.
"The intent of the regulation was to help make their air cleaner but in many ways the exact opposite happened as owners couldn't afford to buy the newer, safer and cleaner trucks," Witcher said.
Witcher also stressed the importance that government regulators and members of Congress understand the role of ATD.
"We're an association dedicated to helping all dealers," he said. "It is up to everyone to commit to the task of informing people that we are much more than an annual convention and the Dealer Attitude Survey."
The NADA and ATD conventions run Feb. 8-11 at the Orange County Convention Center.
ATD represents about 2,000 medium- and heavy-duty truck dealers. ATD members share in NADA's programs, services and benefits. ATD hosts an annual convention for dealers and dealership managers.