Bob Nuss, the 2017 Truck Dealer of the Year, is a strong advocate of the educational training programs offered at the American Truck Dealers (ATD) Academy in Tysons, Va.
Nuss should know. He was involved in supporting the start of the ATD Academy more than 26 years ago. His son, Greg Nuss, graduated from the first ATD Academy class in 1992. A few years later, his other son, Brad Nuss, graduated from the program.
“I wish there had been an ATD Academy when I started in business,” said Nuss, president of Nuss Truck Group in Rochester, Minn., which employs 320 people at eight locations. “My sons both learned the specific requirements to run all departments of a commercial-truck dealership. This valuable training is not available anywhere else.”
The ATD Academy program includes six, one-week classroom sessions over the course of a year. The classes are combined with the students’ hands-on application in each department at their respective dealerships. As part of the curriculum, the students also attend a legislative briefing at ATD/NADA’s Capitol Hill office.
“The ATD Academy is a great training venue for successors and key managers to gain a well-rounded understanding of truck dealership operations and learn the business quicker,” Nuss added.
Jeremy Smallwood, vice president of fixed operations at Beltway International in Baltimore, Md., was one of 24 graduates in the ATD 035 Class. He was elected class president by his peers.
“The experience and knowledge the students displayed was amazing, and to draw insight and ideas from all of them was truly a privilege,” Smallwood said. “The relationships we’ve made will follow us throughout our careers.”
Smallwood added that the curriculum at the ATD Academy challenged the students to step outside of themselves and look at things from a different perspective.
“We learned how to solve problems, become better leaders and improve business operations at the dealership,” he said.
During the graduation ceremony, a panel of ATD member dealers, which included George Grask, Doug Howard, David MacKey, Trey Meyer, Bob Nuss and Jack Saum, Jr., answered questions submitted by the students.
The question topics ranged from OEM/dealer relations, the outlook for autonomous trucks and vehicle connectivity, the shortage of service technicians and how to position the dealership for long-term growth and more.