NATM heads to The Biggest Little City in the World for annual convention and trade show

Dec. 1, 2009
THE National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) is taking its annual convention and trade show to Reno, The Biggest Little City in the World.

THE National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) is taking its annual convention and trade show to Reno, “The Biggest Little City in the World.” Given that the NATM event is the biggest trade show targeted specifically for light- and medium-duty trailer manufacturers, it should be no surprise that the theme is “Reno 2010: The Biggest Little Trade Show in the World.”

The event runs from March 1-6 at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino. The NATM will return to Reno in 2012, with the convention set for Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2011 and Charleston, South Carolina, in 2013.

This year's event features a slight change in format, with the addition of a day of workshops prior to the convention.

“This was a suggestion from many of our members,” NATM president Pam O'Toole says. “Our attendance was down some at the 2009 show (in Charleston, South Carolina). We found is that we had the same number of manufacturers (companies), but that each company didn't bring as many individuals or stay as long. To help get as many manufacturers there and to give them the opportunity to attend both the trade show and educational workshops, we will be having workshops on both Wednesday and Saturday. That gives manufacturers several options to work the convention into their schedule.

“We also negotiated a room rate of $109 per night — no fluctuation between weekdays and weekends, as we have experienced in Las Vegas. This low room rate and a great facility should make the convention even more affordable for our members.”

Playing off keynote speaker Stan Slap's topic of “Tough Times: Tougher Teams,” the focus for the convention will be to offer educational opportunities and information to help members remain successful and prosper in a harsh business climate. The NATM hopes additional workshops and a new workshop schedule will facilitate that goal.


Wednesday, March 3

Paint Performance: Proposed Industry Criteria/De-Icing Agents and the Corrosion Problem

Presenter: Ron Yarnell, OEM Sales Manager, PPG Industries, Inc; Rick Achterhof, Industrial Product Manager, Diamond Vogel Paints; and Gary Sales, OEM Business Manager, Diamond Vogel Paints.

This presentation will first focus on several common tests established in the paint industry and will break down quality levels and how they may fit as standards in the trailer industry. The second part of this presentation will focus on corrosive reactions caused by de-icing agents. Over the past 10 years, there has been a significant increase in corrosion, especially on over-the-road products and architectural coatings near roadways. There has been speculation on the composition and quality of the steel; however, the focus is now shifting to what is actually corroding the steel.

Compliance Update: What it Takes to Become NATM Compliant

Presenter: Greg Soden, NATM compliance consultant.

This session is intended for the trailer manufacturers that are either new to the association or have yet to take advantage of the complimentary compliance consultation. Soden will cover in detail each item on the NATM checklist that is used to verify compliance. Documents will be provided, questions answered, and recommendations will be offered to assist in easily understanding and meeting the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's requirements that are referenced during the consultation.

Demystifying GVWR and Federal Excise Tax

Presenter: Bob Cirilli, instructor for retail tax law; and Clint Lancaster, NATM technical director.

Calculating GVWR can be confusing. Learn the important elements you need to know about calculating GVWR for your trailer and certification label. There are many ways a manufacturer can calculate a trailer's GVWR, but the IRS also has their way. Mistakes in applying and collecting Federal Excise Tax (FET) can be costly. This workshop will explain how to calculate GVWR for the certification label and how GVWR may be calculated separately by the IRS for FET purposes.

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Partnering with Your Lender and General Trailer Industry Update

In today's business climate, it is critical for businesses to understand current lending practices and the impact of the economy and industry on their ability to obtain credit. This session will focus on the following areas: key strategies for negotiating with your lending institution; insight from several local, regional, and national banks in terms of their financial and operational expectations; current industry trends focusing on lending practices and overall economic impact on the trailer industry; and operational strategies employed in this challenging economy and ways to position your company for the recovery. In January 2010, RSM McGladrey will submit a survey to all NATM manufacturing members to gain an understanding of the members' reliance on external financing, key terms associated with the external financing (interest rates, borrowing base information, etc), and their overall impressions of the current economic climate. In addition, RSM McGladrey will also survey several local, regional, and national banks in order to provide information on their expectations of manufacturers.

Communication with Dealers: Retail Trailer Insurance

Presenters: Larry Thum, principal, Thum Insurance Agency LLC; Melissa Thum, vice-president of sales and operations, Thum Insurance Agency LLC; and William Hobbs, founder and president of Recreation Insurance Specialists LLC.

This session will detail what trailer manufacturers need to cover with their dealers about retail trailer insurance including: what an auto policy covers and the misconceptions about insurance coverage; the ABCs of a specialized trailer policy and the typical trailer endorsements; and why an auto policy is not enough. At the end of the workshop, attendees will be able to find out more about the NATM Affinity Program for retail trailer insurance with Thum Insurance.

Saturday, March 6

Supply Chain Leadership

Presenters: Kevin Hume, a principal in the Supply Chain Information Technology Dimension.

Increase Cash Flow: A Case for Lean

Presenter: Fabio Gomez, California Manufacturing Technical Consulting. Lean manufacturing can help companies improve cash flow by unfreezing outdated thinking and reducing operational gridlock that often eats away at a company's recourses and profitability. Lean is a philosophy that will stimulate creativity, increase employee understanding, create smooth product flow, and increase process efficiency.

Exploring Automation for the Job Shop

Presenters: Chris Bailey, general manager, Automation Division, Lincoln Electric Company; Chris Norris, regional manager, Wolf Robotics

The use of automation and robotics for welding is increasing in manufacturing and larger companies are able to utilize their resources to upgrade facilities. Job shops can face varied obstacles when looking at integration due to financial issues or even lack of space. This session will provide information on product and process options that will help small manufacturers join the automation world at their own pace. Simple upgrade techniques as well as full robot integration solutions will be covered. Wolf Robotics and Lincoln Electric will share ideas, options, and examples of what can and has been done in smaller companies to take advantage of automation.

Green Manufacturing to Increase Profits

Presenter: Kirk Prather, Energy Practice Leader and Senior Consultant, California Manufacturing Technical Consulting (CMTC)

What is green manufacturing? What is sustainability? This workshop will include information on some profitable simple examples, successful and easy techniques to implement green, green marketing strategies to increase sales, profitability designing green sustainability into your products, and where to get help and information.

Compliance Update: Today and Tomorrow

NATM staff will be available Saturday to answer questions regarding the current status and future of the NATM compliance program. This session will be an open forum for members to ask questions in regards to specific regulatory issues, the compliance program procedures, or follow up on issues discussed in Thursday's session concerning the future of the program.

Keynote speaker

Are you managing in maddening times? Yes, but that's unimportant, Stan Slap believes. What's important is what you do about it. The job of management is to bring good answers to bad circumstances. Once people are allowed to blame external conditions for internal performance, all hope of aggressive and creative responses departs and helplessness, cynicism, and blame their place.

In this keynote presentation, Slap will bust the myth that success can't be influenced in current circumstances, show how to create a solutions culture, and provide real tactics for prospering in a harsh business climate.

Slap has served as a director of several companies, with their CEOs reporting to him. Since 1995, Slap has been credited with revolutionizing performance for some of the world's biggest, smartest, and fastest companies — developing explosive growth strategies and the cultural willingness to implement them. He personally coaches CEOs and the executive teams of many of these companies.


The NATM will not be holding its annual golf tournament on the Tuesday before the convention this year, but instead hosting a ski/snowboarding trip to Northstar at Tahoe Ski Resort.

Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort has 89 trails spread across 2904 acres. It offers alpine and telemark skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and tubing.

Cost for the ski trip is $150/person and will include deluxe motor coach transportation, event guides, beverages on board the bus, taxes, gratuities, lift tickets, and a $25 gift card to use for equipment rental or food and beverage. Another option for all attendees is snowshoeing. The cost for those wanting to snowshoe in place of skiing/snowboarding is $100.


Biggest Little City Tour & Lunch at Nothing To It! Culinary School

Friday, March 5, 10 am-2 pm

The tour will start off with a bus ride through downtown Reno and a visit to the beautiful River Walk, where unique stores, art studios, and restaurants thrive. Cost for members: $40 per person.

The Village at Northstar

Tuesday, March 2, 9:15 am-5:15 pm

The Village at Northstar offers a variety of boutiques, art galleries, and specialty retailers. The resort offers a collection of cafés and restaurants all centered on a year-round skating rink. Attendees can enjoy a day of shopping in the village, take a jewelry class, experience a wine- and olive-oil-tasting break or just relax in NATM's private hospitality suite. All registered attendees will receive a $20 gift card to be used at the Village at Northstar. Transportation will be provided in conjunction with the ski/snowboarding trip. Wine/olive-oil-tasting: $19. Jewelry-making class: $35. Cost for members: $35 per person.

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.