For better or worse. .. For richer or poorer WasteMasters Inc. has entered into an agreement to acquire N.J.-based MiniMax Enterprises, an interstate trucking company. The MiniMax fleet will be used to haul waste to WasteMasters' disposal sites and to transport appropriate cargo as backhauls. DATS Trucking announced plans to build four new terminals, expanding its regional less-than-truckload service in Utah, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. Ruan Transportation Management Systems has purchased Tri-State Transport, Davenport, Iowa, expanding its position in the bulk market. InTank Trucking, Hammond, Ind., has been acquired by Miller Transporters, the second such move in three months for the Jackson, Miss.-based carrier. In December, Miller acquired the assets of Linden, N.J.-based Hetem Brothers to increase its chemical and petroleum hauling business in the Northeast. A regional carrier operating in and around Chicago, InTank will help extend Miller's longhaul services. Smithway Motor Xpress Corp. has agreed to acquire East West Motor Express, Black Hawk, S.D. East West, a regional flatbed and dry van trucking company, will increase Smithway's fleet by 225 trucks to about 1,200 units.

It's the people A group has been formed to ensure that people are not left behind as new, more technologically advanced equipment moves into trucking's mainstream. The group, 21st Century Driver and Truck Alliance, will fight to ensure the successful integration of "man and machine," says founder Tony Benjamin, president of Certified Transports of Seattle and chairman of the new group.

"While great strides have been made in integrating information age technology into heavy commercial trucks," Benjamin says, "research and investigation needs to be done into techniques to enhance human capacity for successfully interacting and interfacing with this technology."

The alliance aims to bring the two sides of the equation into balance so that the capabilities of 21st-century truck drivers will match that of the equipment, he added. Working through government, business, and academia, the group will conduct research and training, as well as monitor equipment developments to ensure that the driver population is not overlooked in new equipment developments.

Speaking of drivers, Michelin Americas Truck Tires has written a $25,000 check to Trucker Buddy International to help fund the program for 1998. Trucker Buddy is an award-winning educational program that matches drivers with grade-school pen pals.

Trucking joins to fight drugs The trucking industry will work with the U.S. Customs Service to fight drug smuggling at U.S. land border crossings. The new rule will be required only for those carriers involved in the Customs line release -- expedited clearance -- program and will be voluntary for all other carriers.

Watch out Trucking companies continue to be a lucrative target for con artists who use the highly recognized but never trademarked Walking Fingers logo to send misleading solicitations for Yellow Pages advertising. These solicitations are easily mistaken for legitimate bills. That's the word from the Yellow Pages Publishers Assn. (YPPA), working in concert with a number of governmental and business groups.

Con artists may be collecting as much as $500 million each year using bogus billing schemes such as "renewals" and "nationwide" line listings. While the con artists usually publish a directory, distribution is generally limited to the advertisers themselves, as well as targeted businesses and agencies.

The group is advising that any suspicious bills should be reported to YPPA's hot line: 800-841-0639.