A taste of southern hospitality

Jan. 1, 2003
THE Work Truck Show heads to Atlanta March 2-5, and the question has to be asked: Where else can you find 12 of the world's leading chassis manufacturers

THE Work Truck Show heads to Atlanta March 2-5, and the question has to be asked:

Where else can you find 12 of the world's leading chassis manufacturers and one of the world's leading professional football coaches?

The show, held in conjunction with the 39th Annual National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) Convention, features educational and networking opportunities, as well as the latest advances in commercial truck and transportation equipment technology, along with an appearance by keynote speaker Steve Spurrier, coach of the NFL's Washington Redskins. It's a good bet some people will be talking about PTOs and TDs, sometimes in the same conversation.

The Work Truck Show, held at Atlanta's Georgia World Congress Center, is billed as the only place to see commercial trucks and transportation equipment from Classes 1 through 8 — including chassis, bodies, aerial devices, snow and ice control, accessories and components, and more. It provides a forum for fleet managers, truck equipment dealers, leasing company representatives, and other industry professionals to examine the latest product and technology developments. The event is open to anyone involved in buying, selling, or using commercial vehicles, and equipment.

This year, NTEA officials are expecting more than 450 exhibitors, including the aforementioned chassis manufacturers. Exhibiting companies include commercial truck and transportation equipment manufacturers, distributors, and other companies.

Because many exhibitors staff their booths with technical personnel, they can also provide attendees with personalized spec'ing assistance right at the show.

“I probably have a dozen vendors I deal with on a regular basis. For the price of one ticket — one concentrated effort — I can sit with them and discuss the issues, see their new products and resolve a lot of things,” says Carl Nelson, motor vehicle administrator for the AT&T Corporation in Summit Point, West Virginia.

Bob Stanton, director of fleet management for Polk County in Florida, was impressed with the range of new products and ideas he found at The Work Truck Show in 2002.

“As a first-time Work Truck Show and NTEA Convention attendee, I hoped to see new products and learn about what's new in the work truck industry,” Stanton said. “I walked away with a wealth of information gleaned from speaking with exhibitors and attending the high-quality educational sessions. This new-found knowledge has been applied to my work throughout the year.”

Trade show hours are 11 am-5 pm on Monday, March 3; 11 am-5 pm on Tuesday, March 4; and 10 am-2:30 pm on Wednesday, March 5.

Held in conjunction with the trade show, the educational program is designed specifically to foster the education, growth, and leadership of industry professionals. Throughout the four-day program, fleet managers; owners, managers, and employees from truck equipment suppliers; upfitters; and truck purchasers will find educational sessions applicable to their work. Attendees come away with materials, ideas, and resources — as well as personal contacts with industry counterparts — to improve their performance and impact their companies.

The educational component includes more than 30 industry-specific educational sessions and chassis update sessions, as well as numerous networking opportunities. New this year, registered attendees can participate in fleet roundtable discussions on a variety of topics to solve problems and share experiences and advice with peers. The event also features two Bonus Sessions on Monday, March 2, from 9 am-noon: Business Valuation and Sale-of-Business Process, and Early Warning Reporting Requirements.

Eleven of the 12 leading truck chassis manufacturers are conducting educational update sessions in which attendees learn about the latest specifications, innovations, and model lineups.

Here is a look at the educational sessions, breaking them down into the categories of technical, chassis, sales and management, and fleets. (An in-depth look at five other sessions can be found on the following pages.)


“Simplifying Vehicle Weight Distribution Calculations,” Sunday, March 2, 1:30 pm-2:45 pm: Understand the importance of weight distribution calculations in the utilization and design of a commercial truck. Learn the basics of vehicle weight distribution to safely and legally position your payload. See a demonstration of computer spreadsheet software that simplifies these calculations. Presenter: Dick Toner, owner, Toner Associates, Pentwater, Michigan.

“Truck Frame Overview for Body Mounting,” Monday, March 3, 8 am-9:15 am: Do it right the first time and avoid costly product failure. Learn basic frame characteristics and requirements needed for quality and durable mounting of truck bodies. Understand the effects of welding and fastener usage on frame strength and durability. Presenter: Toner.


“Freightliner Trucks Chassis Update,” Sunday, March 2, 1:30 pm-2:45 pm: Learn about the latest models available from Freightliner Trucks, including the Business Class M2. Hear about the latest improvements in features and information that will help you design and install bodies and equipment more efficiently.

“Nissan Diesel America, Inc. Chassis Update,” Sunday, March 2, 1:30 pm-2:45 pm: Get first-hand technical information on chassis specifications, power applications, electrical system design, and approved body and equipment installation and mounting to fine-tune your final-stage results. Presenter: Nissan Diesel America Representatives.

“Truck Multiplex Electrical Systems Technology & Applications Update,” Sunday, March 2, 1:30 pm-2:45 pm: See how multiplexing electrical systems are being applied to work trucks. Understand the basics of multiplexing architecture and technology. Learn about the various types of data links. Discover how multiplexing helps automate tasks, eases the relocation or addition of switches, improves the reliability and life-span of wiring, and allows for advanced diagnostics and programming. Presenter: International Truck & Engine Corp Representatives.

“Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America Inc Chassis Update,” Sunday, March 2, 3 pm-4:15 pm: Topics include the new FH210 model and all related body mounting and application issues, after-market accessories for PTO and reefer mounting brackets. Regarding the FM657 model, changes in curb weights and brake system components will be highlighted.

“Kenworth Truck Co. Chassis Update,” Sunday, March 2, 3 pm-4:15 pm: Get first-hand technical information on chassis specifications, design, body installation and equipment mounting to improve your final-stage results. Learn about the future models, and options offerings.

“Dodge Chassis Update,” Monday, March 3, 8 am-9:15 am: Get first-hand technical information on chassis specifications, design, body installation, and equipment mounting to improve your final-stage results. Learn about the current and future model lineups.

“International Truck & Engine Corp Chassis Update,” Monday, March 3, 8 am-9:15 am: International Truck & Engine Corp will highlight updates to the International(r) 4000 and International(r) 7000 Series chassis. The new International(r) 7600 big bore engine models will be highlighted. Techniques for improved body integration will be discussed.

“Ford Trucks Chassis Update,” Monday, March 3, 9:30 am-10:45 am: Visit Ford Trucks to see the latest in the full-range commercial lineup, including the new 2004-Model F-650/F-750, with a 10-fold increase in spec range. Ford now has more choices for customers in the important Class 6 and 7 segments.

“Peterbilt Motors Co. Chassis Update,” Monday, March 3, 9:30 am-10:45 am: Peterbilt Motors Co. hosts its annual Chassis Update presentation to provide information on spec'ing for top performance, optimizing body installation, realizing the benefits of preventive maintenance and maximizing the lifetime value of vehicles. Attendees will also have a chance to win one year of complimentary TruckCare preventive maintenance for one of their medium-duty vehicles.

“GM Commercial Trucks Chassis Update,” Tuesday, March 4, 9:30 am-10:45 am: Overview of the 2003-2004 models of GM light-duty commercial trucks and GM/Isuzu medium-duty trucks.

“Sterling Truck Corp & Western Star Trucks Chassis Update,” Tuesday, March 4, 9:30 am-10:45 am: Sterling is focused on designing customized work trucks for vocational applications, including government, utility, refuse, construction, food and beverage, towing, pick-up, and delivery. Learn about Sterling's work on its chassis to help body companies streamline installations, as well as Sterling's strategies for powertrain integration.


“The Current Truck Equipment Market Outlook,” Sunday, March 2, 1:30 pm-2:45 pm: Review current data on truck sales and end-use markets with analyses from the NTEA's staff economist. Find out where the truck equipment market is headed and what role the U.S. and international economies play in the short-term and long-term. Presenter: Stephen Latin-Kasper, Director of Market Data & Research, NTEA, Farmington Hills, Michigan.

“Keeping Current on Federal Excise Tax Issues,” Sunday, March 2, 3 pm-4:15 pm: Learn the status of federal excise tax (FET) laws and regulations related to truck and transportation equipment. Better understand your responsibilities for payment or collection of the tax as a supplier or purchaser. Ask questions and be aware of how FET affects the sale of truck bodies, trailers, semi-trailers, parts and accessories. Presenters: Mark Sidman, NTEA Legal Counsel Weiner, Brodsky, Sidman & Kider, P.C., Washington, DC; Louis Kleinstiver, Director of Technical Services, NTEA, Farmington Hills, Michigan.

“Manufacturer-Distributor Relationships: Why Are They Deteriorating?” Monday, March 3, 8 am-9:15 am: A recent cross-industry survey of manufacturer/distributor relationships indicates a significant overall decline in the level of commitment in these working relationships. Large percentages of manufacturers and distributors report their sales performance and profitability are being negatively impacted by problems in the working relationships. Examine how data from the truck equipment industry segment compare to the data from all industries. Learn the primary reasons for these declining relationships and how both groups can work to improve them. Presenter: Robert Nadeau, Managing Principal Industrial Performance Group, Inc, Northfield, Illinois.

“Improving Sales Performance & Profitability Through Better Communication,” Monday, March 3, 9:30 am-10:45 am: Develop an action plan for improving sales performance and profitability through better communication. Learn the four primary functions of communication in manufacturer/distributor working relationships. Gain an understanding of the types of information needed to improve sales performance and profitability. Identify strengths and weakness in your current working relationships as well as common problems that occur when information sharing is not present. Presenter: Nadeau.

“Distributor Round Table Discussions,” Tuesday, March 4, 9:30 am-10:45 am: Join your fellow distributors to discuss important topics affecting your business such as: manufacturer/distributor relations; employee recruiting and retention; insurance; sales and marketing; and succession planning. Restricted to distributor conference registrants. Presenter: industry representatives.


“Truck Specifications: The Backbone of Your Fleet,” Sunday, March 2, 3 pm-4:15 pm: Understand how a comprehensive approach to vehicle specifications can improve every aspect of your fleet operation, from capital expense, maintenance, daily operations and personnel to vendor relations and eventually life-cycle replacement. Hear how three distinguished fleet managers utilize and manage this process within their organizations to maximize their fleet's performance. Presenter: Moderator Jim Galligan, Editor, Light & Medium Duty Truck, Alexandria, Virginia; Bob Stanton, Director of Fleet Maintenance, Polk County Fleet Management, Bartow, Florida; Michael Cecere, Operations Manager, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Fred Stroud, Fleet Engineer Centerpoint Energy, Houston, Texas.

“Critical Success Factors for Today's Fleet Managers,” Monday, March 3, 8 am-9:15 am: Learn those critical success factors that create opportunities for fleet managers to earn over $100,000 annually with 90% decision-making control and achieve Vice President/Director status. Learn how to apply world-class Fortune 500 company practices in the fleet and shop department. Learn topnotch vehicle, equipment and shop labor management practices. Learn high-tech applications for managing mobile assets and labor in the field. Presenter: Kelly Walker, President Kelly Walker Associates, Dallas, Texas.

“Fleet Round Table Discussions,” Monday, March 3,8 am-9:15 am: Meet with fellow fleet managers and leasing company representatives to discuss issues that could help improve your fleet operation and make your business more profitable. Topics include: vehicle acquisition and spec'ing; maintenance; vehicle disposal; and financing. Restricted to fleet and leasing company conference registrants. Presenter: industry representatives.

“What Truck Dealers and Purchasers Should Know About Vehicle Certification,” Monday, March 3, 9:30 am-10:45 am: Meeting the complex federal regulations for certification is an important aspect of your truck equipment purchase. Understand your responsibilities and what to look for from your suppliers regarding certification compliance and penalties. Ask questions and get the facts on incomplete, final-stage and altered-vehicle certification, and proper labeling from one of the industry's most knowledgeable technical experts. Presenter: Louis Kleinstiver, Director of Technical Services, NTEA, Farmington Hills, Michigan.

“Applying Negotiations to Reduce Fleet Owning; Operating; Disposing Costs & Risks,” Monday, March 3,9:30 am-10:45 am: Dollars saved are 20 times more valuable than dollars earned. World-class fleet and shop managers demonstrate skill sets that reduce their company's costs and risks. Learn to use 12 power documents to reduce cost and risks of 30 commodities purchased by fleet and shop departments. Learn to use strategic alliances with manufacturers, resellers, specialists and funding sources to avoid and overcome turnkey outsource attacks. Presenter: Walker.

“The Changing Nature of Fleet Management,” Monday, March 3, 9:30 am-10:45 am: Changes in technology and business methods are transforming the fleet management profession. Fleet managers are enlarging their traditional focus on asset management to encompass financial, human resources, supplier, and customer relationship management as well as other responsibilities that have nothing to do with vehicles or equipment. Fleet professionals will gain a better understanding of the evolving nature of their responsibilities and how they can benefit from the limitless offerings of the fleet services industry. Presenter: Paul Lauria, President Mercury Associates, Gaithersburg, Maryland.

“Fleet Replacement: Solution or Contributor to Current Budget Challenges?” Tuesday, March 4 9:30 am-10:45 am: Many organizations respond to tough economic times by curtailing fleet replacement spending. Lower capital spending leads to higher fleet operating costs and productivity reductions in vehicle availability, reliability and safety. Find out how fleet managers may be able to help solve enterprise-wide budget problems rather than contributing to them by switching from cash or reserve fund financing to leasing or lease-purchasing. Potential near-term budget savings are so large in some organizations that the CFO or Finance Director may receive an unexpected windfall helping to close budget gaps elsewhere while permitting new investment in the fleet operation. Presenter: Lauria.

“Vehicle Life Cycle Costing — Strategies and Overview,” Tuesday, March 4, 9:30 am-10:45 am: Understand how today's fleet manager uses vehicle life cycle costing to justify and manage vehicle equipment purchase decisions. Learn the cost factors that influence the decision and cycles of replacing equipment. See how this technique can be applied to your maximize profitability within your fleet operation. Presenter: John Dolce, Acting Director, County of Essex Department of Public Works, Cedar Grove, New Jersey.

The convention opens Sunday, March 2 with registration starting at 8 am.

Later that day, from 4:30-5:30 pm, is the Young Executives Network (YEN) Business Workshop Sunday. This open forum provides an opportunity to talk with two industry leaders that served on the NTEA Board of Trustees and to discuss the evolution of the commercial truck and transportation equipment industry, share current issues, and find out how these two NTEA member companies are dealing with them in their businesses. Presenters will share their views on future issues facing the industry.

The YEN Networking Reception follows at 5:30, providing a chance to kick off another successful convention week by meeting colleagues at a reception hosted by the NTEA YEN.

The opening reception follows at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta from 6:30 pm-9 pm. Billed as “Southern Hospitality,” it allows convention goers to stroll into a traditional southern mansion and enjoy the tastes, sights, and sounds of the south.

The President's Breakfast and NTEA annual meeting are set for Tuesday, March 4, starting at 7:30 am and featuring the keynote address by Spurrier.

The agenda features optional tours:

  • Lenox Square Shopping, Monday, March 3, 10 am-2 pm: Located in the prestigious Buckhead area, Lenox Square is Atlanta's premier shopping mall — anchored by Macy's, Neiman Marcus and Rich's and features 230 specialty stores, kiosks, eateries, and sit-down restaurants. This center boasts the most unique specialty retailers in the area with BCBG, Bally of Switzerland, bebe, Bernini, Brooks Brothers, Cartier, Hermes, Nicole Miller, Max Mara, St. John's Knits and Versace Jeans Couture. Included in the mall complex are fine restaurants such as the new Clubhouse, Tom Tom Bistro and Prime.

  • CNN Studio Tour, Monday, March 3, 1 pm-2:30 pm or 3-4:30 pm): Immerse yourself in CNN on a guided tour offering a dramatic look at the history of the CNN Newsgroup Networks, their coverage of the events that shape our world and the state-of-the-art studios responsible for bringing the news to over one billion people around the globe. Experience the excitement firsthand through a one-of-a-kind re-creation of CNN's main control room, an interactive exhibit area where you can view video clips of the top 100 news stories that CNN has covered during the past 20 years, test your knowledge with the journalism ethics display and trace the growth of CNN as it parallels world events.

  • “Atlanta — Yesterday and Today,” Tuesday, March 4, 10 am-3 pm: Stop at the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum that includes photographs and historical memorabilia from the Carter presidency (1976-1981). During your visit, a special exhibit, Portraits of the Presidents from the National Portrait Gallery, will be on display. Enjoy a buffet lunch on your own in the Carter Library Café and savor the magnificent view of the Atlanta skyline from the Library gardens. Next visit one of Atlanta's great historical sites, The Martin Luther King, Jr., National Historic Site. Visit Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King co-pastored with his father, and explore the Visitor Center featuring exhibits about King and the Civil Rights Movement. Then enjoy some of Atlanta's most famous sites as you cruise past Turner Field, the State Capitol, and the 1996 Olympic Torch on your way to the Atlanta Cyclorama houses.

The final event of The Work Truck Show is the Business Forum, featuring Chuck Reaves, at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, Wednesday, March 5, 8:30 am-10 am, following a breakfast buffet served at 8 am. Reaves will explain techniques for differentiating your products and services in a crowded market and how value-added selling can help you justify your prices by taking “total cost of equipment” to a higher level.

About the Author

Rick Weber | Associate Editor

Rick Weber has been an associate editor for Trailer/Body Builders since February 2000. A national award-winning sportswriter, he covered the Miami Dolphins for the Fort Myers News-Press following service with publications in California and Australia. He is a graduate of Penn State University.