The National Private Truck Council named Ed Welch, operations manager for Perdue Transportation, as its top Certified Transportation Professional (CTP) for the group's class of 2006. Welch said he was both surprised and honored to achieve that ranking.

“Frankly, it wasn't easy; the final exam takes four and a half hours,” he explained. “But it's been a great learning experience for me. Not only because it allowed me to build up my knowledge base in areas of transportation I don't normally work in, but also because I got to interact with a lot of transportation professionals from different companies.”

Welch is more than well equipped to handle not only the stress of the CTP program, but of transportation in general.

After graduating from Salisbury University in Salisbury, MD, with a B.S. in business management in 1987, he joined the U.S. Army and headed south to Panama. Welch led a 40-man logistics platoon in the 193rd support battalion and managed fuel distribution operations during Operation Just Cause, the U.S. military mission to oust Manual Noriega from power.

The fuel-intensive mission put a lot of pressure on ground units like the 193rd that were already stationed in the country guarding the Panama Canal. “Here I was, 24 years old and leading a logistics platoon into combat operations. It's one of those life experiences where you grow up quickly,” Welch says.

For Welch and his soldiers, Operation Just Cause left them with nothing but good feelings, and lessons Welch would constantly refer to as his logistics career progressed.

“We suffered no casualties and all the hard work we did in training paid off tremendously,” he says. “That taught me a lesson I still carry with me today: You have to train the way you expect or want to perform in a stressful situation.”

“The CTP program is a good example of that,” he continued, “because it put a lot of pressure on us to get a lot of work done quickly. It's valuable training for transportation, a field that is constantly changing with new regulations, a driver shortage, fuel price spikes, etc.”

After attending the U.S. Army's logistics officer course and commanding a logistics training company at Fort Lee, VA, Welch left the military in 1993 to pursue a logistics career in the civilian world. “One of the reasons I followed the logistics path in the Army is that I knew the skills I learned would transition well to the civilian world,” Welch said.

Welch took a job as maintenance manager at Perdue Transportation, the trucking arm of poultry giant Perdue Inc. After earning an MBA from Wilmington College in Wilmington, DE, Welch was able to broaden his experience at Perdue to include distribution, operations and even information technology.

“One of the things I like to do is challenge myself so I don't become stagnant. [I like to learn] new skills and gain new knowledge that can help me improve and grow down the road,” he explained.

It's also why he stays in the transportation field, Welch added. “Transportation is a never-ending series of challenges — that's what I like so much about it,” he says. “It's a constantly changing environment, with new regulations and business issues impacting it every day.”

In fact, it was Perdue's logistics manager Larry Brown, a long-time NPTC member, who encouraged Welch to pursue the CTP designation. “Once I studied up on [the CTP] I realized it would be a really good way to broaden my knowledge of transportation.”

Yet perhaps the best lessons he learned on his way to becoming the top CTP graduate for the class of 2006 didn't come from the coursework. Rather, it came from interacting with his fellow CTP candidates.

“We did a lot of group work together and we shared a lot of our experiences in what I call a ‘non-threatening’ environment,” Welch explains. “Just the sharing of ideas and information proved invaluable to me. Now, to get the most value from the CTP process, I need to go back and apply what I've learned.”