Attendance, Exhibitor Records Grow at 34th NTEA Convention

TRUCK EQUIPMENT distributors and manufacturers came in record numbers to the National Truck Equipment Association's 34th annual convention and exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada, March 11 to 13.

A record 3,450 participants swarmed to the city of lights for the convention, which hosted astronaut James Lovell Jr as keynote speaker. The exhibition's 328 exhibitors that covered some 54,700 square feet of booth space also set a small-booth show record. Numbers are up from the 1996 convention in Orlando, Florida, that hosted 289 exhibitors and less than 3,000 attendees.

Chassis seminars, an extended business management workshop, and an opening reception in the evening highlighted the convention's first day. Ford, Dodge, General Motors, Navistar, Freightliner, and Mitsubishi Fuso provided the latest information on new truck chassis.

The following morning, approximately 1,000 members attended the president's breakfast and annual meeting sponsored by Ford and General Motors. Jim Hardee, in his last official duty as association president, addressed members regarding the state of the association.

Hardee attributed the association's strength to the adoption of a two-part strategic plan by the board of trustees. The plan recognizes the NTEA as an information source. It also directs the association to develop a full range of programs and activities that will benefit all levels of personnel in member companies.

"The NTEA has significantly increased its education and training activities," Hardee said. "Our first director of education has been hired and we are providing training programs designed for all levels of personnel in the industry."

The association will offer two hydraulics-training courses in cooperation with Chelsea Auxiliary Power Products and Muncie Power Products. The NTEA Truck Equipment College will eventually encompass a full curriculum of courses in truck equipment business management, according to Hardee. The NTEA has begun developing the first of three truck body technician's certification tests in cooperation with the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence, according to Hardee.

The association has made several steps to further strengthen its relationships with light-, medium-, and heavy-duty truck chassis manufacturers. "We have broadened our role as the information liaison between the chassis and body and equipment segments and continue to serve as a central resource for technical chassis information on a regular basis," Hardee said.

The association is expected to have 1,550 member companies on April 30, the end of the fiscal year. The total number represents a net gain of 75 companies over a year ago, which is close to the association's all-time high, according to Hardee. At the end of his speech, Hardee turned over the president's gavel to Steve Moore, signifying the end of his term.

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