You got game?

YOU MIGHT HAVE heard that they play a little bit of basketball in Indiana.

Indiana is the inspiration for Hoosiers, one of the most beloved sports movies of this generation. It's the state that spawned “The Hick From French Lick,” Larry Bird. It's a place where they admit that they didn't invent basketball but will vociferously maintain that they perfected it.

Working off this knowledge, the National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) has come up with a theme for the opening reception of The Work Truck Show and 43rd annual convention in Indianapolis: “You've Got Game.” Attendees will have the chance to show what they have in a variety of basketball-themed entertainment options on Tuesday, March 6, from 6:30-9 pm at the Marriott Downtown.

The Work Truck Show is the largest work truck event in North America. Thousands of commercial truck, trailer and equipment distributors, fleet managers, buyers, and maintenance personnel will meet at the Indiana Convention Center & RCA Dome March 7-9, with the convention starting one day earlier. These professionals will also be able to check out the newest products and technology from 450 exhibiting companies, learn how to improve their operations at nearly 40 training sessions, and network with suppliers and peers.

New this year is a Hybrid Truck & Alternative Fuels Summit that kicks off the event's educational activities on Tuesday, March 6, from 10 am-4:30 pm. The Summit includes several information and training sessions covering a variety of alternative fuel and hybrid vehicle technology topics.

Another new Special Session is “Closing the Gap: A Customer-based Approach to Competitive Differentiation,” on Tuesday, March 6, from 10 am-4:30 pm. Ryan Mathews, CEO of Black Monk Consulting (Royal Oak, Michigan), facilitates this interactive session that outlines key points of the NTEA's extensive research of fleets and truck dealers. Mathews will encourage attendees to consider how their customers view them in the marketplace and equip them with tactics to consider for helping their companies stand out from the crowd.

Mathews believes genuine differentiation is the only acceptable strategy in a market where every company looks the same. Standing out in the crowd means aligning your employees so that everyone is on the same page, and aligning your organization in a way that is competitive, profitable, and sustainable against competitive advantage. He says you want to create a company that is so responsive to its customers' needs that it would be hard for them to go elsewhere. This isn't a one-time exercise. Your company has to realign itself as the market changes.

This interactive session outlines the most important points that came out of the NTEA's extensive research of fleets and truck dealers. Attendees will not be bored with a lot of data, but instead will be asked to think about their position in the marketplace, and how they think your customers see you. They'll be given some questions to ask themselves and their employees, and then will be offered some possible tactics for improvement. Company and market alignment will be covered, and attendees will take away a set of questions they can ask their customers to better understand their needs.

Attendees also will receive a copy of Closing the Gap: A Customer-based Approach to Competitive Differentiation. The NTEA's new program includes a workbook, survey results and explanation, an educational CD-ROM, and a copy of The Myth of Excellence: Why Great Companies Never Try to Be the Best at Everything.

Dozens of new Class 1-8 vocational truck and equipment products and technology innovations will be displayed on the expansive show floor, including an expected six new commercial trucks from leading chassis manufacturers.

Keynote speaker

Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, is the keynote speaker at the President's Breakfast and NTEA Annual Meeting on Thursday, March 8, from 7:30-9:15 am.

Also new in 2007, attendees who register for a Complete Event Package or Conference & Trade Show Package receive vouchers for lunch valid every day March 7-9.

Work Truck Show attendees can take part in a Ride-and-Drive event on March 7-8 at the Indiana Convention Center & RCA Dome, featuring the highest level of advancement in hybrid technology or alternative fuel applications.

All trade show attendees are eligible to take part in the Ride-and-Drive. However, participation will be limited and handled on a first-come, first-served basis. Ride-and-Drive sign-up information will be provided to attendees when they pick up their badges on site.

Attendees can also check out the latest hybrid or alternative fuel technology initiatives and products on the show floor in a special “Stepping into the Future Pavilion” March 7-9. Leading-edge suppliers will expose attendees to new technology through a state-of-the art look at what is happening on a commercial basis.

Fleet management

The Fleet Management Symposium on Tuesday, March 6, from 8:30 am-4:30 pm is designed for practicing equipment, fleet, and shop managers who manage a wide range of fleet assets and shop labor in all industries. It focuses on world-class financial and operational practices that reduce costs 10%-30% while increasing shop labor productivity.

Attendees will discover how to: compute a fleet meltdown and stoppage formula; use an eight-step technician recruiting and retention strategy; learn why insourcing and outsource decisions are changing; use fuel management models; apply 16 predictors of their future; manage shop labor; utilize fleet and shop management software; structure the department as a separate corporation; use a 12-step fully-loaded labor rate; determine fleet asset disposal; optimize shop staffing levels; calculate fleet asset rental rates and chargeback systems; maximize warranties/performance guarantees; benefit from GPS tracking/monitoring/route mapping; apply 20 benchmarks with 100 performance measures; and reduce fleet costs by 25% in 12 months.

The convention also features Training Theaters on the Show Floor from noon-4 pm on Wednesday and Thursday, March 7-8. Conveniently offered on the show floor, these 20-minute presentations do not require attendees to commit to a classroom, and there's no additional fee. They simply take a quick break and gain operational insights and business success strategies that can be applied immediately. Training Theater topics include an NTEA Vehicle Life-cycle Costing Software Demo; Top 10 Elements for Developing Better Chassis Specifications; What the NTEA Member Verification Program Means to Your Company; and many others.

Ken Schmidt, one of the most in-demand speakers and communications consultants in America, will speak at the Business Forum on Friday, March 9, from 8:30am-10 am.

Schmidt, a former Harley-Davidson executive and communications expert, has toured the world on two wheels, met with presidents and royalty, partied with movie and music legends, and appeared numerous times on network news. As the former director of communications for Harley-Davidson, he played an active role in one of the most celebrated turnarounds in corporate history — and got paid to ride motorcycles.

The optional tour goes to Oldfields — Lilly House & Gardens/Art Museum on Wednesday, March 7, from 10 am-2:30 pm. The tour begins with a visit to Oldfields Lilly House & Gardens, a designated National Historic Landmark. At the heart of Oldfields is Lilly House, a 22-room mansion, once home to JK Lilly Jr, late Indianapolis businessman, collector, and philanthropist. The home features historical and interactive exhibits and offers expansive views of Oldfields' magnificent 26-acre landscape and gardens.

Following lunch at Puck's, there is time to explore the Indianapolis Museum of Art, view one of the largest and oldest general art museums in the US. Highlights include the Samuel Josefowitz Collection of Gauguin and the School of Pont-Aven and the Holliday Collection of Neo-Impressionism, featuring the work of Georges Seurat and his followers.

Here is a look at the educational sessions, breaking them down into the categories of management, sales, technical, chassis, and fleets. See accompanying article for an in-depth look at 10 key sessions.

MANAGEMENT

“Work Truck & Trailer Industry Federal Excise Tax Update,” March 6, 1:30 pm-2:45 pm: Learn the status of Federal Excise Tax laws and requirements applicable to the work truck industry. Better understand your responsibilities for payment and collection of the tax as a supplier or purchaser. Discuss tax implications for the sales of truck bodies and equipment, trailers, semi-trailers, parts, and accessories. Presenters: Mark Sidman, Partner, Weiner Brodsky Sidman & Kider PC (Washington, DC); Michael Kastner, Government Relations Director, NTEA; Steve Spata, Technical Services Manager, NTEA.

“Why Would You Operate Your Business in a Vacuum?” March 6, 3 pm-4:15 pm: Today's owners face a rapidly changing and challenging business environment. Learn how management and customer advisory boards can bring a fresh and effective perspective to your firm. Hear firsthand how one NTEA member company has set-up and utilized advisory groups to help grow its business. Learn how to effectively structure an advisory team to maximize your organization's impact. Presenters: John Mills, CEO, BioStorage Technologies (Indianapolis, Indiana), Mark Boice, President, Warner Bodies (Noblesville, Indiana).

“Leveraging Your Service Assets,” March 7, 8 am-9:15 am: Truck equipment distributors take for granted a lot of the assets they have available. How many of your competitors are as well-equipped as you? Yet your customers may not think you're any better than your competitors. How did you let yourself get into this position? The answer is that most distributors do not leverage their assets. Learn how to position your service where the market wants it to be while providing higher sustainable value. Presenter: Ron Slee, President, RJ Slee & Associates (Rancho Mirage, California).

“Gaining Repeat Business Through Inventory Control,” March 7, 9:30 am-10:45 am: When you have the part on the shelf, you are the same as any other truck equipment distributor. It's what you do when you don't have the part that earns customers' repeat business. Discuss major inventory control functions, including: stock ordering, parts transitions to inventory, protective parts management, surplus returns, meeting company performance goals, physical counts, and scrapping of obsolete items. Presenter: Slee.

“Building a Culture of Ownership to Drive Success,” March 8, 9:30 am-10:45 am: With the pace of change and ever-increasing competition, it's important to separate your organization from others in the industry. That's why building a culture of ownership can be critical to your company's success. Learn how to encourage your employees to take ownership of what they do and how to convey that their performance has a direct impact on the company's finances and their standard of living. This session will give you a firsthand look at how open-book management has helped thousands of companies to create a performance-driven culture that has generated success. Presenter: Jeff Payne, President and General Manager, Springfield ReManufacturing Corp, Heavy Duty Div. (Springfield, Missouri).

SALES

“Using the SPEQ Plan Manual to Improve Quality Processes,” March 7, 8 am-9:15 am: Consistent quality of products and services has become an important customer expectation and will ultimately affect your company's bottom line. Learn how the NTEA Sales, Productivity, Earnings and Quality (SPEQ) Plan Manual can help your company integrate a quality assurance program that will benefit every aspect of your operations. Use the Plan to boost productivity, increase profitability, minimize mistakes, eliminate unnecessary comebacks or maintenance problems, and communicate to your customers, suppliers and competitors that your firm is committed to excellence. Use the SPEQ Plan Manual to prepare for NTEA Member Verification Program qualification. Presenter: Doyle Sumrall, Director of Strategic Operations, NTEA.

“The Fastest Way to Improve Your Bottom Line,” 9:30 am-10:45 am, March 8: This session is designed to help you document how nominal increases in sales can dramatically impact the bottom line performance of your organization. When small improvements are made to three key performance indicators in your sales department, you can achieve big increases in total gross profit. Learn how to improve your company's numbers by meeting simple sales performance measurements. This interactive session received extremely high rankings at previous NTEA Conventions for content and take-away value. The updated session has been brought back by popular demand. Presenter: Dave Mills, President, Twenty-First Century Marketing (East Peoria, Illinois).

TECHNICAL

“Simplifying Weight Distribution Calculations for Work Trucks,” March 6, 1:30 pm-2:45 pm: Understand and recognize the importance of weight distribution calculations in the utilization and design of commercial work trucks. Learn the basics of vehicle weight distribution to safely and legally position equipment and payloads while maintaining regulatory compliance of the vehicle. Attendees will receive a calculation exercise and information about a software package available exclusively through the NTEA. Presenter: Richard Toner, Owner, Toner Associates (Pentwater, Michigan).

“Requirements of Durable, High-quality Truck Frame Modification,” March 6, 3 pm-4:15 pm: Examine basic frame characteristics and requirements needed for sturdy, expert mounting of truck bodies and equipment. Understand how the effects of welding and fastener usage can impact frame strength and durability. Identify ways to avoid the mistakes that can lead to costly repairs. Presenter: Toner.

“Corrosion Prevention & Control Techniques for High-risk Vehicles,” March 7, 9:30 am-10:45 am: Environmentally induced corrosion can increase maintenance costs, reduce productivity, and shorten the life of your vehicles and vehicle-mounted equipment. Vehicles operating in corrosive environments or transporting corrosive materials, such as salt and fly ash, are especially impacted. This session looks at some of the alternatives available for preventing or controlling corrosion on your work trucks. Examine design and fabrication to eliminate potential problem areas; use of corrosion-resistant materials, such as fiberglass, aluminum, coated steel and stainless steel; and use of protective coatings. Corrosion-resistant hardware and techniques for preventing fabrication and assembly damage that can initiate corrosion in otherwise protected areas will also be covered. Presenter: Ken Tallman, Vice President, Industrial Sales Div., Continental Products Corp (Euclid, Ohio).

CHASSIS

“Hino Motors Sales USA, Inc. & Toyota Motor Sales USA, Inc. CHASSIS UPDATE,” March 6, 1:30 pm-2:45 pm: Hino will discuss its past, present and future, including its chassis-cab model line-up spec's, options and body builder information. The 2007 emissions and Hino “J” series engine will also be covered. Toyota will present first-hand technical information on chassis specifications, design, body installation, and equipment mounting options. Learn more about future models and commercial applications.

“Mack Trucks CHASSIS UPDATE,” March 6, 1:30 pm-2:45 pm: Mack Trucks will discuss its MP Engine Series, diesel particulate filters, chassis architecture, and electrical body interface connectors.

“Kenworth Truck Co CHASSIS UPDATE,” March 6, 3 pm-4:15 pm: Kenworth will provide product updates, information on the 2007 engines, and the latest body builder updates.

“Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America, Inc. CHASSIS UPDATE,” March 6, 3 pm-4:15 pm: Mitsubishi Fuso highlights in detail body builder/installer requirements for its 2008 model year trucks that are equipped with the Environmental Protection Agency 2007 emission engine and their effects on body/equipment mounting. Electrical system updates and information on the new online body builder manual will also be discussed.

“Dodge CHASSIS UPDATE,” March 7, 8 am- 9:15 am: Dodge continues to expand its presence in the commercial market with the introduction of two new vehicles.

“Sterling Truck Corporation CHASSIS UPDATE,” March 7, 8 am-9:15 am: Sterling will introduce its new axle forward products and provide its 2007 emissions and chassis update.

“International Truck and Engine Corporation CHASSIS UPDATE,” March 7, 9:30 am-10:45 am: Learn about after-treatment solutions for 2007 emissions and beyond. Get the latest information on optimizing steering geometry for tire wear and AWARE, the advanced vehicle intelligence system.

“Ford Commercial Truck CHASSIS UPDATE,” March 8, 9:30 am-10:45 am: Ford Commercial Truck presents the latest in its full range of commercial trucks — the new 2008 Ford E- and F-series — and provides first-hand technical information, including body and equipment mounting.

“Freightliner Trucks CHASSIS UPDATE,” March 8, 9:30 am-10:45 am: Get the latest information on 2007 chassis updates and options to facilitate your body and equipment installations. Learn more about vocational product enhancements and body builder support improvements.

FLEETS

“Making Investment Decisions Using Vehicle Life-cycle Cost Analysis,” March 7, 8 am-9:15 am: While the concept of life-cycle costing is widely accepted, far too often it is not used when making long-term investment decisions. When it is used, important factors such as return on investment and the impact of income taxes are often ignored. Look at various applications of life-cycle cost studies, review the factors to include in a study, and discuss alternative methods for determining your internal rate of return. Examples of life-cycle cost studies for vehicle and equipment purchases will be presented using the NTEA Vehicle Life-cycle Cost Analysis Program and NTEA Plant, Property & Equipment Life-cycle Cost Program templates to evaluate single investments, alternative purchases, and option selections. Presenter: Robert Johnson, Director of Fleet Relations, NTEA.

“Fleet Predictive Maintenance — Reducing Costs & Downtime,” March 7, 9:30 am-10:45 am: “Predictive maintenance” when applied to vehicles and vehicle-mounted equipment usually means the selective servicing or replacement of systems/components prior to their actual failure. Predictive maintenance can produce big operational savings by reducing costly road calls, vehicle and equipment downtime, unscheduled overtime, and failure-related equipment damage. Explore methods to establish an effective program, and vehicle data collection and analysis needed for implementation. Presenters: George Survant, Director of Fleet Services, Florida Power & Light Co (Juno Beach, Florida); Dave Williams, Regional Manager, Fleet Operations, Verizon Communications (Valhalla, New York).

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