NATM tackles tough topics

Trailer financing, Ben Stein's economic analysis highlight annual National Association of Trailer Manufacturers convention

With bread-and-butter issues on the agenda, the National Trailer Manufacturers Association had a strong turnout at the 21st annual convention and trade show February 24-28 in Charleston, South Carolina.

Assistant director Michelle Brown said total attendance was 880 — approximately 25% lower than the previous year, but with roughly the same number of manufacturing companies represented (112, as opposed to 117 in 2008). Virtually the same companies were represented, but they brought fewer people.

There were 196 exhibitors, including 28 at the trade show for the first time. Associate members contributed over $230,000 in convention sponsorships, with 44 member companies sponsored.

Interest was particularly high for the special session NATM quickly organized in response to the announcement by major finance companies that they would no longer provide loans for the types of trailers that NATM members produce.

“Overall, the attendees indicated on their evaluations that it was a good convention and they appreciated the addition of the finance workshop,” Brown said. “The staff and board were pleased with the breakdown of attendance. We were prepared for a reduction in the number of attendees but excited that the number of companies represented overall was only slightly lower than they were in Las Vegas.

“Many non-member companies took advantage of the NATM Free Trade Show pass for trailer manufacturers, most of which had never heard about our association and have recently joined. The trade show traffic was much slower than normal, but many of our exhibitors indicated that those manufacturers that attended were the decision-makers of the company.

“Charleston was a great location. Most attendees really enjoyed the venue and would return if the convention were held there again.”

The NATM gave out six awards:

  • Bill Bernhardt Award: Carl Maxey (Maxey Manufacturing Inc). The award is presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to the trailer manufacturing industry. Maxey was elected to the NATM board of directors in 2002 and remained an active board member until 2008. During that time, he served on multiple committees, including the executive, membership, nominations, government-affairs and industry-data committees. He served as treasurer and vice president and served as president from 2005-2006. Under Maxey's leadership as president of NATM, the first strategic planning session was held and a multi-period plan for the association was developed. This multi-period plan included the purchase of the current NATM headquarters. Since the plan was developed, NATM membership, and member services have grown significantly.

  • Ed Freel Membership Award: Greg Snyder (CAR MATE Trailers Inc). The award was established to recognize the member who helped recruit the largest number of new members to the association. In 2008, Snyder helped NATM recruit five new members. Snyder has been an active member of the association, serving on the board since 2005. In addition, he has been a part of numerous committees, including the membership, trailer-dealer, technical, compliance, and marketing committees.

  • Associate Member of the Year Award: PPG Industries. The award is presented to an associate member that has shown outstanding support of NATM. Selection is based on activities including membership recruitment, support of the convention, sponsorships, and other activities that promote NATM and the trailer manufacturing industry. PPG has been an NATM member since 1999 and a convention sponsor since 2003. PPG is currently working with NATM on the Paint Processes Special Project and also approached NATM about co-sponsoring a “Green Manufacturing” award for trailer manufacturers.

  • Above and Beyond Award: Michelle Brown (NATM). The award was presented to her for her hard work and dedication to the planning of this year's event. Brown has served as NATM's assistant director for the past eight years. Under her leadership, this event has doubled in size and attendance.

  • Past President Award: Travis Eby (MH Eby Inc). Eby has fulfilled a one-year term as NATM president and will remain on the board of directors as past president. He will serve on the executive committee in addition to his assignment as chairman of the bylaws committee and a member of the marketing committee. He spearheaded the start-up of Eby's new semi-trailer plant in Story City, Iowa, and currently serves as vice president of manufacturing in Blue Ball, Pennsylvania.

  • NATM President: Michael Terry (Cimarron Trailers Inc). Terry's term as president began in March and continues through February 2010. Terry served as the sales manager for Haynes Trailers in Chickasha, Oklahoma from 1978-1985 and for Hart Trailers from 1985-2000. Terry first served on the NATM board in 1987, when NATM first began. Since then, he has served on numerous committees, including the executive, marketing, technical, finance, nominations, and trailer-dealer committees.

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