Hundreds of carriers and industry suppliers gathered in Orlando March 12-15 for the 68th annual Truckload Carriers Convention. They came to discuss the issues and concerns that are shaping trucking today and to honor outstanding people in the industry. Sixty-five companies among those represented in Florida have been to more than 25 such conferences, while 11 companies have been members of TCA for more than 50 years, including Ohio-based Craig Transportation, a member for more than 60 years.

The subjects on this year's conference agenda encompassed all of the hottest issues facing the industry as a whole, including the driver shortage, 2007 engines, hours of service and electronic onboard data recorders, owner-operator trends, harnessing technologies to drive productivity, private advisory boards, idle reduction solutions, counter terrorism measures and the business outlook for 2006-07.

“2006 is going to be a pretty nice year, a terrific year,” observed Thom Albrecht, managing director for Stephens Inc., during a general session panel discussion. “In fact, the next four to five years look good.” His positive outlook mirrored the generally upbeat mood of the meeting.

Grand prize fleet safety award

Two fleets were honored for their outstanding safety records: Bison Transport of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in the category of companies operating over 25-million miles annually, and Rocha Transportation of Modesto, CA, in the category of companies operating under 25-million miles annually. The carriers were selected from among 18 division winners in the National Fleet Safety Division Awards. Both were judged to be the best in their commitment to improving highway safety.

Lee Crittenden Memorial Award

The Professional Truck Driver Institute. (PTDI) presented the eighth annual Lee J. Crittenden Memorial Award to Lana R. Batts, managing partner of Transport Capital Partners. The award is given to the person who has done the most to advance the ideals and goals of PTDI, of which Lee Crittenden was a staunch supporter until his death in April 1998. Batts has almost three decades of experience in the trucking industry, most notably as president of TCA and as sr. vp of government affairs for the American Trucking Assns.

Drivers honored

In the 17th Annual “Company Equipment Driver of the Year” contest, five TCA member company drivers were honored as the nation's best. The awards were based on the drivers' excellent safety records, unblemished work history and involvement in the community and industry. Dora Colvin, a flatbed driver for CFI, was the winner of the grand prize. In her 51 years with a driver's license she has maintained a perfect safety record without an accident or moving violation in either her personal or commercial vehicle.

Other drivers honored included: second place, Zimri Zirkle of Jet Express; third place, Fred Howard Jr. of Arnold Transportation Services; fourth place, Bret Campbell; and fifth place, Kenneth Luther of Sherman Brothers Heavy Trucking.

Barry Pottle new TCA chairman

Barry Pottle, CEO of Maine-based Pottle's Transportation, was elected chairman for 2006-2007. As chairman, Pottle wants to bring attention to the truck driver shortage and to encourage TCA members to think about their drivers' needs in new and different ways.

“I feel trucking companies are doing a good job, not a great job, in retaining drivers. However, we need to and can do better,” Pottle observed. “[We] can't fix the problems alone. We need to get our customers and suppliers behind.”

Pottle will also address regulatory issues, including the hours-of-service rules, impending electronic onboard data recorder (EOBR) regulations, and truck size and weight guidelines.