I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past,” noted Robert Hirsch, president of the Truckload Carriers Assn. (TCA), during his remarks at the group's annual convention in Las Vegas last month.

The quote from Thomas Jefferson was apt, underlining TCA's commitment to helping its members prepare their own fleets and the industry as a whole for a new era of success.

Attendees at this year's conference focused on today's hard realities, not tomorrow's dreams, however, tackling many of the industry's toughest issues.

Round-table discussions, panels and presentations at the general session considered topics such as costing and pricing strategies, fleet profitability, the insurance crisis, truck replacement cycles and financing, outsourcing and the impact of terrorism on trucking.

Stuart Varney, commentator for The Wall Street Journal on CNBC, and Robert Costello, chief economist and vice president for the American Trucking Assns., also discussed the odds for economic recovery in the months ahead. Both analysts predicted modest growth beginning in the second half of 2002.

While it was abundantly clear that the road to the future of trucking still has some rough terrain to cross, TCA demonstrated its willingness to plunge ahead at every turn, using education as a tool to widen the path forward for its members.

Hirsch reviewed the organization's list of education and training achievements and its new initiatives, including the following: Truckload Academy programs; the TCA's new online “Information Center” and “Industry Headlines” service; the “Market Points” economic forecast newsletter; the redesigned TLA (Truckload Academy) Journal, which now appears quarterly in the pages of FLEET OWNER magazine; and the audio training conferences that were launched last year.

“We're now offering a broad range of educational programs on timely subjects through the medium of audio conferences,” Hirsch said. “I'm pleased to report that over 250 sites and over 1,000 company personnel have participated in the five audio programs we have held thus far.”

Hirsch also mentioned the safety, maintenance supervisor and manager training now available to TCA members, thanks to an agreement between TCA and the ATA, which transferred oversight of the North American Transportation Management Institute from ATA to TCA last October.

“Our positive relationship with ATA continues to grow and we are extending our offer to assist them whenever possible,” Hirsch later added. “Our industry is too small and our issues too great for any of us to tough it out alone.”

G. Clifton Parker, G&P Trucking, was elected chairman of TCA for 2002-2003, assuming the office held by Patrick Quinn, co-chairman of U.S. Xpress Enterprises.

For more information about this year's conference and about TCA, visit www.truckload.org.