Kevin Jones
Nearly 300 booths filled the exhibition hall at this year’s NATM trade show, with representatives from Dexter pictured here.

A win-win for members, exhibitors

June 12, 2020
NATM 32nd annual Convention & Trade Show called ‘best yet’

The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers 32nd annual Convention & Trade Show was an “overwhelming success,” with exhibitors surveyed agreeing the show benefited their company.

The event, curated specifically for the light- and medium-duty trailer industry, was held in February in Las Vegas. It boasted nearly 300 trailer manufacturer attendees, 295 booths sold and 223 exhibiting companies, NATM said.

“This was my 16th NATM convention and I would say this was the best one yet,” said Marcus Hester, vice president of sales, marketing and product development at Optronics International, and an exhibitor at this year’s show. “While the convention was outstanding, NATM is so much more than just a trade show.

“NATM truly is a member-focused association and Optronics is proud to be a convention sponsor and longtime member.”

The week began with an inaugural NATM Top Golf Tee-Off event, held at the Top Golf Las Vegas venue. Overlooking the Vegas skyline, attendees got the opportunity to take some swings while enjoying dinner and networking with industry peers. 

At the show, convention attendees also were able to attend various educational workshops and technical forums, focusing on industry-specific topics, including safety chains, warranties, lighting and human resources.

In addition to educational workshops, networking receptions and the trade show, the association recognized outstanding contributions to the industry during the Annual Awards Luncheon.

Former fighter pilot Waldo Waldman makes an enthusiastic plea for workplace teamwork during his keynote presentation.Kevin Jones

Young Professional of the Year (manufacturing member) was given to Paul Feight of MGS Inc., where he is a design engineer. “His engineering acumen and attention to detail has had a profound impact on NATM through his contributions on the Guidelines committee,” NATM Executive Director Kendra Ansley said, presenting the award. “Thanks to Paul’s penchant for accuracy and research skills, his efforts have directly improved the quality of NATM’s Guidelines.”

Young Professional of the Year (associate member) went to Nick Dorfer, territory sales manager, BrakeQuip. “In 2016, Nick and the BrakeQuip president began researching the trailer manufacturing industry as a new market segment for the company,” Ansley said. “Nick has been an active participant in the NATM Convention ever since. Nick was able to assist the committee in developing educational content in Tracks Magazine for all NATM members by leveraging his extensive experience in new product development, marketing, and technical sales.”

The Ed Freel Membership Award, recognizing members who have gone “above and beyond” in recruiting new members for the second time was given to Joe Ostrowski, national sales manager, Kenda/Americana Tire & Wheel Corp. “Joe’s tenure in the tire industry has been illustrious and during that time he has amassed a vast network of friends, not just customers,” Ansley said. “Joe’s commitment to the mission of NATM and his belief in membership as a value-added proposition has been an integral part of our recruiting efforts.”

The inaugural Pam O’Toole Trusdale Woman in Manufacturing Award, named in honor of the NATM’s long-time executive director, went to Serena Moran, owner of Sun Country Trailers. The award celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of women in the light- and medium-duty trailer industry. “Serena’s business acumen has established a thriving business, and along the way she prioritized worker safety and created a robust benefits package for her employees,” Ansley said. 

The Outstanding Associate Member of the Year was Marcus Hester, vice president of sales and marketing for Optronics International. Hester has held numerous leadership position with NATM since being elected to serve as an associate member of the board in 2012.

Bennie Shivers, owner of Shivers Utility Trailers of Sparks GA, was named the Outstanding Regular Member of the Year. He was among the first members to volunteer for the NATM Compliance Verification Program. “But Bennie hasn’t just been a participant in the compliance program, he’s also been a vocal supporter, spreading awareness of its importance to his competitors, dealers, customers and law enforcement alike,” Ansley said.

NATM General Counsel Kim Mann received an Outstanding Service honor to mark his retirement after 23 years with the organization. “Kim provided NATM a connection to Washington DC that it sorely needed in 1998 and has worked cohesively with NATM’s government affairs representatives since 2008,” Ansley said. “His broad understanding of transportation law and the trailer industry as well as his connection to federal agencies and industry groups has been invaluable.”

Monica Johnson was recognized at the NATM Outstanding Employee. “Monica is a Jane-of-all-trades, our utility player, our pinch hitter,” Ansley said. “She knows it all because she has done it all. She provides historical perspective, but is equally invested in change and progress.”

Delivering the keynote following the luncheon, speaker and leadership expert Waldo Waldman, a former fighter pilot and author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller Never Fly Solo, made an enthusiastic case for the importance of teamwork in a business setting.

The 2021 Convention & Trade Show is set for Feb 23-25, 2021, at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville TN. Booth sales have started and registration to attend will open in September.