When a commercial industry runs on more than 2,000 U.S. truck dealerships, produces $85 billion in sales and is responsible for moving bricks and cement and other goods and products that drive our economy, it truly requires a team effort. For the past two years, I’ve had the privilege to witness what a well-oiled machine the commercial-truck industry is and how national associations like the American Truck Dealers (ATD) contribute to that smoothness and efficiency. Our achievements are nothing short of monumental, and they are not without sacrifice, hard work and, above all, earnest teamwork.
In the years ahead—with new challenges mounting—it is critical that everyone (and I mean everyone) is invested and engaged in the health of our industry. ATD will always hold the front line for you on the steps of Capitol Hill; and with the Automotive Trade Association Executives (ATAE) on the front line of state issues, we will be steadfast when protecting you from harmful legislation and regulations. We will continue to make decisions in the best interest of your dealerships and employees. But our core strength lies in all of you—the men and women who are the heart of ATD. Our association can never replace your engagement, your feedback, your phone calls and your face-to-face meetings with us, with elected officials and industry allies. We’ve gotten through some of our most pressing challenges because of your support and your voice. Despite the unknowns of a new White House administration, truck dealers successfully advocated their issues in 2017 and, in the end, scored enormous wins on tax reform and regulations—from significant tax cuts for pass-through entities to influencing DOT’s ruling on electronic logging devices. Now we’re facing completely new challenges, such as repealing the federal excise tax (FET) on most heavy-duty trucks, self-driving vehicle legislation and the advent of electric trucks.
These are complex issues that will extend into the future. I know our incoming ATD chairwoman, Jodie Teuton, will lead you through these uncharted waters with strength and passion. She will continue to guide ATD and uphold the four pillars of our strategic plan: Participation and Engagement, Legislative and Regulatory Advocacy, Industry Relations, and Education. Each element contributes to ATD’s longevity and health of the commercial-truck industry. But only our members can ensure our collective future. As I’ve said since day one of this journey, our business is centered on people first and our work is never a singular effort. For the coming years, I call on each and every one of you to work openly and collaboratively for the benefit of our great industry.
On a personal note, I would like to thank every person I’ve had the privilege to meet and work with during my tenure as ATD chairman. A few words cannot adequately capture what a tremendous honor this has been for me, my dealership family and my own family in Maryland. Every challenge reminded me that what we do is not easy, but it is necessary. And every day reinforced that we dealers are a select group in this industry—encountering daily challenges yet rarely complaining.
Finally, to the entire ATD community: thank you for showing me the true meaning behind the adage that there is no “I” in “team.” And as your departing chairman, my hope is that I have showed you the same by my passion and commitment to our dealers and our great association.
I look forward to seeing you at the ATD Show in Las Vegas next week where I can thank you in person.
Parker is chairman of ATD, a division of NADA in Tysons, Va., which represents more than 1,800 heavy- and medium-duty truck dealerships. He is president of Baltimore Potomac Truck Centers in Linthicum, Md., which operates five full-service commercial-truck dealership locations with Mack, Volvo and Hino Trucks franchises in Maryland and Virginia.