Halting the diversion of funding to non-highway projects in the congressional reauthorization of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act tops the National Private Truck Council's (NPTC) legislative strategy, according to John McQuaid, the group's new president.

"We need to protect the Highway Trust Fund to meet the needs of our highway infrastructure," he told attendees to the group's annual meeting in San Antonio.

As the positions are staked out, NPTC will also be watching developments on hours of service, which may get pulled into the discussion. "We're different from the rest of the industry," he said. The issue is not how many hours can they drive, but how many hours can they work."

In addition, McQuaid also pledged he would continue NPTC's emphasis on education, specifically the Private Fleet Management Institute.

During one of the educational components of the meeting, attendees heard Larry Duff, vp-transportation for Wal-Mart Stores, explain how to leverage the value of the private fleet by offering the agility to do those things that nobody else can or will. For instance, he has established a moving van division to help in Wal-Mart's ongoing corporate relocations.

In addition, Duff said to offer superior quality of service. "If you're not hands down the best," he said, "you're vulnerable to having somebody else come in and do it for you." To ensure quality service, Duff surveys Wal-Mart customers and benchmarks his fleet operations to others.

He also said it was important to know how the fleet fits into the corporate mission. "Your purpose is to support the success of your business, not to grow your fleet," he said. "Avoid thinking of yourself as a trucking company."

The group also announced an award to recognize humanitarian efforts by drivers of NPTC member fleets in honor of Dodi Reagan, NPTC's former safety director who died last January.