ATD Chairman: Seasonal Downturn Moves to Brighter Conditions in Truck Industry



Weather folklore famously characterizes March as coming in like a lion and going out like a lamb. This is because the marked change of weather tends to come in rough and turbulent, but then goes out calm and pleasant. Let us see if the same can be said of the truck industry's seasonal pattern this year.


If it was any indication, this period certainly did roar in like a lion with President Trump's unprecedented election to the White House, along with the newly-appointed administration he is building throughout the branches of the federal government. With murmurings of major change in tax policies, including a newly proposed border adjustment tax, there are many unknown elements for the fiscal year. 


Meanwhile on the home front, truck dealers throughout the nation are also coping with changing conditions. In January, dealers faced a quieter market which turned out lower retail sales. Sales for Class 8 trucks just passed 10,000 units in January-the lowest record in nearly six years as numbers fell 31.4% year-over-year. 


However, unlike Mother Nature, the American Truck Dealers (ATD) won't leave our own climate to chance. Your association is working hard to be more proactive than ever and to keep our members engaged. For the past year, ATD has made a concerted effort to engage with dealer councils on a regular basis. 


We have also expanded lines of communication with allied associations like the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Truck Rental and Leasing Association (TRALA). I plan to attend TRALA's annual meeting this year-the largest gathering of truck renting and leasing executives and suppliers in North America. And ATD is proudly represented at ATA's monthly Motor Carriers Luncheon—an ideal time for discussing mutual challenges. We are also present at the National Truck and Equipment Association's (NTEA) Work Truck Show which gathers the best and brightest throughout the truck industry and showcases the latest and greatest products. 


More temperate conditions are also forthcoming. When it comes to sales, numbers are projected to improve over the course of this year. Better freight volume is projected for 2017 and dealers will be ready as we expect the market to slowly gain momentum again. And as my second year as your ATD Chairman is well underway, always remember that I'd like to hear from you. 


ATD strives for continuous improvement and we can't do that without your insight and feedback. Our team is still gathering the results of the post-convention survey which was filled out by both convention attendees and non-attendees. This survey is critical to keep building our convention program year after year so that it best serves all of you and meets your needs. 


As winter turns to spring, ATD members must stay strong through the winds, hail and rough storms-both literally and figuratively. Rest assured that any tough times are simply temporary because the strength of this industry is constant. As many meteorologists like to say, warm and moderate temperatures are on the way. 


Steve Parker is chairman of ATD, a division of the National Automobile Dealers Association.  


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