By Paul Scott Abbott, AJOT
From continuing economic woes to federal regulations to capacity concerns, there should be plenty to discuss Nov. 13-15 in Atlanta as three freight transportation industry trade associations gather for collocated annual events.
More than 2,000 industry leaders are anticipated to take part – with the trade show floor having sold out weeks in advance – as the Georgia World Congress Center contemporaneously hosts the Intermodal Association of North America’s 29th Intermodal Expo, the National Industrial Transportation League’s 104th annual meeting and TransComp Exhibition, and the Transportation Intermediaries Association’s fall meeting.
Leaders of IANA, NITL and TIA, in separate interviews with the American Journal of Transportation, noted that this year’s program provides enhanced opportunities for education, professional development and industry interface.
“We’ve changed things around a little this year and added more concurrent sessions to provide attendees with a larger variety of educational choices,” said Joni Casey, president and chief executive officer of Calverton, Md.-based IANA, which represents the combined interests of the various sectors of the intermodal freight industry.
“In the past,” Casey said, “we tried to focus on big-picture general sessions that would be of interest to all potential attendees. This year, we have introduced more specialized breakouts, such as sessions on intermodal corridors and sustainability.”
Bruce Carlton, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based NITL, said, “We’ve all redoubled our efforts to present an exceptional menu of educational offerings, with focused seminar topics that are ‘in the moment’ for every attendee and exhibitor, and absolutely expert presenters.
“I would rather have someone tell me we went overboard on education and professional development than to learn we fell short of expectations,” added Carlton, whose group, known as the “Voice of Shippers,” is the oldest and largest national association representing companies engaged in the transportation of goods in domestic and international commerce.
Robert A. Voltmann, president and CEO of Alexandria, Va.-based TIA, the professional organization of the third-party logistics industry, noted that his association is offering a full slate of workshops on Sunday, Nov. 13, to be open to all attendees.
“These interactive sessions are for 3PLs, shippers and carriers that want to improve their businesses,” Voltmann said. “TIA’s fall meeting has adapted into more than networking and participating in the trade show. Education now plays an integral part in the overall experience of the meeting.”
While focused discussions are to feature panelists from a full spectrum of supply chain firms, shippers and federal agencies, prominent general session speakers are to include U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and retired U.S. Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, who, as a U.S. astronaut, was commander of the space shuttle Endeavour during its final mission, and is the husband of U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.
IANA’s Casey said she believes most important issues to be discussed at the functions will include the impacts of such federal transportation regulations as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s much-anticipated revised hours-of-service rules for truck drivers, as well as the agency’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program and initiation of “roadability” compliance audits.
Casey also cited the continuing lack of long-term successor legislation to the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, or SAFETEA-LU, plus such “hot” issues as chassis supplies, capacity and driver shortages.
NITL’s Carlton commented, “Regrettably, we are all still laser-focused on economic recovery. The tools we’ve used in past recessions are not working as hoped, which suggests to me that the root causes of this recession – and the structure of our economy – have transformed over time in ways we do not yet fully understand
IANA, NITL, TIA have plenty to discuss November 13-15 in Atlanta
By Paul Scott Abbott, AJOT