On March 24 at the American Truck Dealers (ATD) Show in Las Vegas, I had the privilege of accepting the role of ATD chair. I am humbled and excited by the weight of this responsibility. There is much opportunity coming to truck dealers, and I urge everyone to take advantage.
Truck sales are healthy as Class 8 orders continue to skyrocket, with volumes doubling from last year’s numbers. And in January, medium-duty orders came in third highest since July 2006. Thanks to our OEMs and suppliers, our trucks are the cleanest, safest and most fuel-efficient that they’ve ever been. But like other sectors, we have to adapt to changing technology. The commercial truck industry is seeing the advent of new power sources, so dealers must understand how autonomous- and assisted-vehicle legislation will affect our business and customer demand.
The great news is that the environment in Washington, D.C., right now is pro-business. Those who run truck dealerships must cope with complex regulatory burdens. ATD will work hard to capitalize on legislation coming our way, including the infrastructure bill and the new tax code. I will make it my mission to advocate on your behalf and work toward legislation that makes it easier for us to do our jobs, not harder.
Finally, let’s challenge ourselves to work together and continue our high standards each day. Let’s take a closer look at our most valuable resource: our employees. The hard truth is that our dealership landscape is experiencing issues of recruiting, hiring and retaining long-standing teams. As dealers, it should be our priority to attract the best hometown talent no matter where you operate. We provide well-paying local jobs that support families and communities, so let’s strive to be the employer of choice. The quality of our operations rests in the teams we build, and we must manage growth and cultivate the workforce that we currently have in our dealerships.
The bottom line is that education and training matter in every stage of our business, from general managers and operators to service technicians. I urge members to take advantage of ATD’s membership offerings: join an ATD 20 Group, send an employee candidate to the ATD Academy and sign on to NADA online and take a class. Let’s get everyone excited about dealership jobs and continue to build a culture of inclusion. Never forget that ATD is here to help every step of the way.
In the Louisiana oilfields where I am from we have a saying: ‘God, give us one more boom and don’t let us blow it.’ Our national boom is here, and ATD members are poised to make the most of it. Let’s seize this moment.
It is my honor to carry the ATD torch and pick up where Steve Parker, our immediate past chairman, left off—in serving ATD and all its members for the next two years.
Jodie Teuton is ATD chairwoman and vice president of Kenworth of Louisiana and Southland Truck Leasing in Gray, La.
Visit nada.org/atd to learn more about ATD issues and how you can get involved.