Kevin Jones | TBB
If there's a giant star made of cowboy hats overhead, this year's NATM convention must've been held at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

NATM's 35th Annual Convention set records

June 2, 2023

FORT WORTH—A record turnout for 35th Annual NATM Convention & Trade Show shouldn’t have come as a surprise here, as the 2022 edition had set the standard the year before—and business has continued to grow as the small- and medium-duty trailer markets continue their post-pandemic rebound.

“The trailer manufacturing industry, though not without significant challenge, has fared well throughout the course of the last year,” NATM President Marty Lorick, owner of Triple Crown Trailers, said his welcoming remarks. “With 1,138 trailer manufacturer, supplier, automobile OEM members and trailer dealer affiliates, NATM continues to grow.”

As do the association’s programs, with a new website, database, a new strategic plan all developed in the past year—with more to come.

“NATM has a lot in the works to better support members and the industry,” Lorick said. “The association and a network of industry experts are working to release a new online training program called NATM Academy. From an advocacy standpoint, NATM and its Government Affairs representatives are focused on obtaining a seat on a DOT advisory committee overseeing rear underride research and eventually regulatory changes, as well as addressing workforce challenges.”

Taking a forward look business climate, Lorick suggested the industry “remains in a strong place” even amid concerns over an economic downturn.

“Demand, though falling, remains high,” he said. “However, production continues to lag with supply and workforce shortages continuing to plague all industries. There is hope that with the review of the current tariff structure, the cost of components may decrease.”

Special recognition

NATM Interim Executive Director Alex Stowe, making his first convention appearance in that role, recognized various members and associates for making “a lasting impact” in working to advance the association, trailer safety, and the industry.

Among the honors:

Outstanding Young Professional Award: Jacob Crabb, Diamond C Trailer Manufacturing. Crabb was born into the Diamond C Trailer family, and is known as “The Trailer Nerd” on social media. NATM recognized his investment in “countless hours” getting to know and understand trailer users throughout North America.

Ed Freel Membership Award: John Kerr, Marsh & McLennan. Kerr was nominated by the NATM staff for “tirelessly” advocating for the association, serving on many NATM committees, the board of directors, and the executive committee—and for his diligence in bringing in prospective members to the association.

Pam O’Toole Trusdale Woman in Mfg. Award: Bonnie Radjenovich and Brenda Jennissen, Felling Trailers. Named after NATM’s long-time executive director, the awards celebrates the accomplishments and contributions of women in the industry. Radjenovich, vice president of human resources, and Jennison, CEO, took over as co-owners of Felling Trailers from their founding parents in 2012. Radjenovich prides herself with having a talented, inclusive, and diverse team. Jennison has guided the company to numerous area business awards and is very active in community leadership efforts.

Outstanding Associate Member: Cary Kronebusch, Peerless Chain. Cary Kronebusch, OEM business development manager at Peerless Industrial Group, has spent several years volunteering on NATM committees and raising awareness of key trailer safety information on the topic of cargo control. He presented at the July 2022 NATM Technical Committee onsite meeting and provided educational awareness of cargo securement options and the risks involved with trailering.

Outstanding Member Award: William Craig, U-Haul International. Craig, an engineer, was recognized for his educational efforts to improve trailer safety and performance, and providing educational tools to the industry. His technical expertise and willingness to contribute to discussions during technical committee meetings have been “incredibly valuable” to NATM.

Dealer Affiliate: Greg and Debbie Blaser, Trailer World Oregon. NATM created the Trailer Dealer Committee in 2022, and its inaugural Trailer Dealer Affiliate Award goes to the Blasers, who have been dealer affiliates since the program began in 2019 and were dealer committee co-chairs for 2022.

Statistical Surveys Awards: Each year Statistical Surveys Inc. honors trailer manufacturing companies whose 2022 registration volume makes them a segment leader as well as those companies who experienced the largest market share increase. Jeff Jones, national trailer sales manager at Statistical Surveys, recognized the following:

Largest manufacturers by segment

  • All Trailers: Carry-On Trailers
  • Open: Carry-On Trailers
  • Enclosed: Novae Corporation
  • Horse: Trails West MFG of Idaho
  • Livestock: Gooseneck Trailer MFG Co
  • Boat: White River Marine

 Largest market share increase

  • All Trailers: Interstate Group
  • Open: Texas Pride Trailers
  • Enclosed: Darkhorse Cargo
  • Horse: C & B Quality Trailer Works Inc.
  • Livestock: Maxxim Industries
  • Boat: C E Smith Co. Inc

The 2024 NATM Convention & Trade Show at the South Point Hotel Casino & Spa in Las Vegas, Nev. Feb. 13-15. Phase 1 of booth selection for next year’s event gets underway May 17.