[Editor's note: For complete coverage of Work Truck Week 2021, see the April print edition of Trailer/Body BUILDERS.]
Jon Sievert was installed as 57th Board chair of NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry, in an online gavel exchange to kick off virtual Work Truck Week 2021. Sievert, president, Work Truck Solutions for Douglas Dynamics, accepted the position from immediate past Board chair Peter Miller, executive vice president of business development and sales at Pro-Tech Industries.
“I'm sure everyone would agree: 2020 certainly has brought its share of changes and challenges. But it's also further united us as an industry, demonstrating our leadership and resilience as we come together to help keep North America moving forward,” Miller said in his opening remarks. “No matter what the coming months bring, I know we'll meet those challenges head on, showcasing the relentless drive and innovation that has become a key characteristic of who we are as a community.”
As shown in an introductory video, Sievert started his working career in the metalforming industry as a tool and die apprentice. Realizing he needed a better understanding of business and leadership, he went to school at night for his degree then returned to school a couple of years later to earn his MBA in finance. Shortly thereafter he joined Douglas Dynamics and the discovered the work truck industry.
“Where else do you get the chance to see your work go into action every day as it's running around, taking care of city streets, delivering packages, supporting the rest of the economy?” Sievert said. “Our industry has a tendency to be somewhat hidden, even though we support so many other industries. When it comes to continuing to find workers for our industry, we have to make ourselves known and help people understand how absolutely awesome it is to be able to do what it is that we do and to support the rest of the economy.”
In addition to supporting educational programs for those already in the work truck industry, Sievert would like to develop programs to educate and recruit experienced people from outside of the business.
Looking ahead, he points to the association’s continued involvement in public policy advocacy.
“We have over 100 years of combustion engine infrastructure in North America,” he said. “As we go to new forms of powertrains and new forms of driving those vehicles, we need to make sure that the industry stays very relevant and very at-point with building work trucks.”
In a brief chat, Miller and Sievert noted that a year ago they’d been onstage in front of thousands of people during the annual NTEA meeting at the Work Truck Show—not sitting by a fireplace for a webcast.
“I know this last year, I learned an awful lot about myself and about our industry. I learned specifically how to be patient, just because everything's so different,” Sievert said. “Now I'm also learning how to communicate, because you can't just pop in on someone anymore, and have a conversation with them. You've got to figure out how to reach them in many different ways.”
On the other hand, as Miller added, he’s learned that working from home means “you don’t always have to be available.”
“There's sometimes where you’ve got to take a break,” Miller said. “So it was that transition period of ‘how's this all gonna work?’ One of the things I learned was that it's okay not to know, that we're not sure how long it's going to last or look, but—you know what—just start moving forward. It's murky, but move forward.”
Indeed, Sievert pointed out that NTEA has continued to help the industry move forward, adapting its variety of tools to make them available during the pandemic transition. Douglas Dynamics used the “lull” to put the NTEA Work Truck Cert program into place, while Miller and Pro-Tech took advantage of the on-line learning opportunities and the ongoing availability of the NTEA staff.
“The NTEA staff has gone above and beyond,” Miller said. “It's just a great testament to what this industry can do, and how we can adapt when the time calls for it.”
Of course, the most obvious adaptation has been the big annual event, and making it virtual for 2021.
“We know those connections in our industry are so vitally important,” Sievert said. “So, while we're not having a Work Truck Show this year, for me it's good to see that we're at least having a Work Truck Week where we can connect with each other.”
Miller reported that, in his conversations with association members, all agreed the virtual WTW21 is “the right thing to do.” In handing over the gavel to Sievert, he thanked his family and the outgoing NTEA board representatives: Travis Eby, EBY Truck Bodies; Calvin Geddings, Lee Transport Equipment; and Sean Moran, Pritchard Commercial.
“For the new board members, you’ve got a lot of exciting things and challenges ahead of you—welcome aboard,” Miller said.
2021–2022 NTEA Board
Serving with Sievert on the NTEA Board’s Executive Committee are First Vice Chair Tina Albright of TBEI Inc.; Second Vice Chair David Scheitlin of Auto Truck Group LLC; and Third Vice Chair and Treasurer Jason Ritchey of Curry Supply Co.
- Rick Albertini, Phenix Truck Bodies & Van Equipment
- Rod Hill, Utility Truck Equipment Inc.
- Teresa Miller, American Midwest Fleet Solutions
- Mike Randolph, Fontaine Modification Co.
- Pat Godwin Jr., Godwin Mfg. Co. Inc.
- Eric Jones, VBG Group Truck Equipment
- Chris Weiss, The Knapheide Manufacturing Co.
- Ben Winter, Transfer Flow
- Joe Curran, Peterbilt Motors Co.