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NATM’s trade show and convention is heading back to Las Vegas for the first time since 2008.

NATM takes its trade show and convention back to the site of the super-successful 2008 event, which set records


IN the case of the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers, what happened in Vegas really did stay in Vegas.

NATM held its annual trade show and convention in Las Vegas in 2008, and set a record with 1300 attendees and 300 exhibitors, including a 25% increase in manufacturer attendance.

NATM’s leadership decided to temporarily discontinue Las Vegas as a destination for the convention because room rates went up dramatically, so the convention headed to Charleston, South Carolina, Fort Worth, Texas, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. But with rates easing significantly, NATM decided to head back there for the 26th Annual Trade Show & Convention February 26-28. It always helps when rooms are going for $59.

“I think we will get more manufacturers, and we seem to have more interest because we’re back in Vegas again,” NATM executive director Pam O’Toole Trusdale said. “Vegas used to be a very popular venue for our members.

“We think this will be biggest convention since the economic downturn, when things went into a slump for everybody. In 2008, we had 1300 people in Vegas. At the end of 2008, things started going downhill for the entire economy, but particularly for trailer manufacturers. We’ll get over 1000, but I would like to see us get back to the 1300 number.”

NATM sold out its original room block, so it added another 1000 more room nights.

The excitement has been driven by a Beginner’s Luck promotional campaign.

First-time trailer manufacturers are eligible for a free registration (courtesy of Lippert Components) and three free room nights (courtesy of Carlisle Transportation Products and Redneck Trailer Supplies). There also is a purchasing-agent promotion for trailer manufacturers: Register with a full registration and the purchasing agent’s registration is free.

The organization also sent out a postcard to all trailer manufacturers within a 500-mile radius of Las Vegas, offering those promotions.

“We’re hoping that will draw more people,” Trusdale said. “We hope to have big numbers. Out total numbers might not be as big as 2008, because we had 300 exhibit spaces then, and we’re trying to narrow that down to 220 because we want to get the number of member manufacturers up so the exhibitors that are there get plenty of traffic. It was first-come, first-served on exhibit space.

“We hope we end up with a waiting list and start creating demand for associate members. Last year, we offered a special in which anyone who pre-registered for this year’s event got a discount. We had 40% of our associate members from last year who were pre-registered within 45 days of the last convention.”

NATM also has changed the format. In the past, it had an engineering meeting—designed for engineers for associate and regular members—that provided a review of ongoing projects. This year, the organization decided that since a lot of smaller members don’t necessarily have an engineering department, it would be better to replace the engineering meeting with a technical forum all day on Wednesday, February 26, with a variety of speakers.

“So it’s not just for an engineering staff but more for a technical staff,” Trusdale said. “We’re trying to draw more people in and get more workshops with a technical focus and include more members. We have a session in the morning and included a trailer industry update luncheon, then another technical session in the afternoon, then close out with an SAE Trailer Committee update and task force projects SAE is working on.

“We believe many people will want to attend the whole day of technical sessions, rather than just the three-hour engineering meeting in the afternoon. We still have workshops: human resources on Wednesday and FMVSS 108 on Thursday.”

NATM also eliminated sessions on Friday afternoon, deciding that they wanted to provide “meatier” topics, so they have two workshops per session rather than three.

“Usually, there was interest in all of them, but there was always one that was of more interest than the others, so we were really heavy in attendance on one workshop and light on another,” Trusdale said. “We’re trying to pick two different topics for each session so we will draw different people. We have some good speakers and good topics, and we’re trying to get a bigger crowd into the two workshops we have, rather than spreading ourselves thin and doing too many workshops.”


• “Attracting & Retaining Quality Employees,” Wednesday, February 26, 10-11:30 am. Presenter: Jep Enck, Enck Resources.

The biggest decision any company will make is, “Who joins our team?” The need for highly qualified employees is growing, and the competition is stiff. In this workshop, participants will walk away with “hands-on” tools for better recruitment, hiring, and retention.

• “Who is Ron Howard to You? Working with a Multi-Generational Team,” February 26, 1:30-3 pm. Presenter: Enck.

Working on a multi-generational team provides unique opportunities as well as challenges to any organization. The ability to communicate and motivate others that don’t share your generational perspective is a crucial skill for success. Learn how to build a team, combining these perspectives.

• “Transitions: How Successful Family Companies Structure Their Business For Future Success,” Thursday, February 27, 9:30-11 am. Presenter: Mary Schmid Daugherty, CFA, PhD, University of St Thomas.

Your business is growing and the challenges facing you each day are growing as well. You may find you need more structure, a disciplined approach to managing your growing family business. How do you professionalize your family and the business to meet current challenges and take advantage of new growth opportunities?

Mary Schmid Daugherty

The session will address how a family business can successfully maintain their family business culture while also adopting valuable policies and procedures that can help in managing their business. It will offer tips on how to develop an environment where the family adds value to the business and the business adds value to the family.

Daugherty is an associate professor of finance at the University of St Thomas. She is actively involved in teaching, research, and consulting. Daugherty teaches courses at the undergraduate, graduate, and executive level in corporate finance, investments, and family business. She also is the faculty director for the Aristotle Fund, a student managed portfolio that directly manages $5 million of the University of St Thomas endowment.

Her research and consulting interests focus on the impact of board and family governance on valuation. She is a frequent speaker on a variety of business valuation topics and consults with private family businesses on valuation, governance, and succession issues. She recently co-authored the book, Family Business, 4th Edition, with Ernesto Poza—the most widely adopted college textbook on the subject of managing the family business.

Daugherty has held a variety of leadership positions in the Chartered Financial Analyst Society of Minnesota, including education chair, ethics chair and president. She currently serves on the board of three for-profit companies: Mairs & Power Funds Inc, Crescent Electric Supply Company, and Simplex Construction. She also serves on the non-profit board of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors.

• “FMVSS108 for Lighting & Signaling Devices: Recent Modifications in the Safety Regulation That Impact Testing & Recommendations to Maintain Product Compliance,” February 27, 9:30-11 am. Ed Patterson Sr, manager of photometric testing, Intertek.

This session will contain a review of FMVSS108 changes; required lighting for over 80” in overall width, and under 80” in width trailers; placement of lamps; geometric visibility requirements of each, and “required” documentation for lighting components that must be kept on file at all times.

Technical forums:

• Trailer brake panel, February 26.

Learn more about the Trailer Brake Test Procedure and Performance Criteria Standard. Moderated by members of the brake panel, this will be an opportunity to discuss your brake issues from design, performance, and understanding regulations.

• Trailer Testing & Performance, February 26, 1:30-5 pm, Nevada Automotive Test Center. Duty cycle development and evaluation of trailers. The session will cover durability testing; user demographics and requirements; accelerated life testing; performance, regulatory, and standardized testing.

• Selection of Surface Preparation, Coatings, and Corrosion Control Processes, February 26, 1:30-5 pm, by Phil Parson, SSPC.

This workshop will discuss proper selection of surface preparation techniques, proper coating selection, and corrosion control principals with quality control practices as a major focus of the complete procedure.

• SAE Trailer Committee Update, February 26, 1:30-5 pm.

Keynote speaker

The keynote speech will be presented by Dr Lowell Catlett from 12:15-1:30 pm on February 27, after the annual membership meeting and luncheon.

Dr Lowell Catlett

Catlett is regent’s professor, dean and chief administrative officer at New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences. An futurist, his knowledge of technologies and their implications on the way we will live and work is addressed in his varied presentations. Catlett works both nationally and internationally, presenting his take on trends in health care, agriculture, the environment, and education.

Catlett received his doctorate in economics from Iowa State University, and has twice received the Don C Roush Award for Excellence in Teaching, and also has received the Burlington Foundation Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding University Teaching, as well as being one of two Western Regional recipients of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges’ Excellence in College and University Teaching in the Food and Agricultural Sciences Award. 

He received awards for the College of Agriculture and Home Economics Advisor of the Year as well as Teacher of the Year at New Mexico State University. Catlett has been a consultant for the US Departments of Agriculture and the Interior of Defense and Labor, as well as many Fortune 500 companies.


The golf tournament, sponsored by Peterson Mfg, will be held at Silverstone Golf Club on Tuesday, February 25, from noon-5 pm. Buses will load at 10:30 at South Point and then at 5:30 pm for the return trip.

Silverstone features 27 championship holes—the Robert Cupp-designed Valley, Mountain, and Desert nines—with rolling mounds and spectacular views of Sheep Mountain. Silverstone offers golfers of all skill levels a challenging and fun experience with four different tee boxes.

The third hole on the Mountain nine is the longest hole in Nevada—a par-5 that is 653 yards from the back tees. But there is a blend of distances: The first hole on the Mountain Course, for example, is just 343 yards from the tips.

Located about 20 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, Silverstone features bentgrass greens and ryegrass fairways throughout the year, meaning there is never an over-seeding period. It is known for its top-flight conditioning.

And it includes a much-talked-about feature: A “28th hole” called “The Decider,” which is located near the clubhouse and is typically used to settle golf bets.

Silverstone boats driving range, putting green, short-game areas and GPS equipped golf carts. ♦

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