By Jodie Teuton, Chairwoman, American Truck Dealers

Many parents like me must be joyful that their child is moving to college and standing on the precipice of adulthood. My daughter will proudly attend Millsaps College this fall where she will join many other students who will be working hard to set goals and plan a successful future. Meanwhile, the truck industry is moving forward and enjoying the best business environment in nearly four decades. But that doesn’t mean our education is complete. Whether you’re a newly-minted freshman in college or a veteran in this industry, education never stops—especially at the American Truck Dealers (ATD).

While students head back to school, you can visit ATD’s website and consider all the resources we offer to help improve the truck dealership business. I urge all dealers and managers to consider our signature ATD Academy, which provides six intensive, week-long instructor-led classes at our headquarters in Tysons, Va. The Academy curriculum includes comprehensive classes on financial management, parts, service and business leadership. The Academy also provides many opportunities for manufacturing and allied industry executives to participate. For those who cannot attend class in person, we offer online education and training from the comfort of your own computer. ATD has developed hundreds of online courses, including past webinars on demand at no charge for members, our Driven guides cover a variety of industry topics including the Dealer Guide to Federal Excise Tax Compliance, and interactive courses that incorporate real-world simulations. Content is regularly updated so that our education offerings can continue to meet your needs. And all ATD presentations are led by industry experts, who like all excellent teachers, are determined to see you succeed in your businesses.

In that regard, what would school be without a report card? ATD always welcomes your feedback and evaluation of how you think we’re serving your needs as a national association. Let us know what topics you would like covered for future webinars. Tell us if you’d like to see a specific workshop at the ATD Show. While students enjoyed their summer break, ATD never stopped working to improve even as the heat turned up. In July, I attended a meeting at the White House to discuss how ATD is working to repeal the harmful federal excise tax on new heavy-duty truck sales. And ATD finished gathering survey responses for the 2018 ATD Dealer Attitude Survey in early June. I thank dealership managers nationwide who took the time to complete this important survey. Your ATD line representatives and staffers will use your feedback to communicate what matters to our fellow dealers during meetings with manufacturers. Your survey responses frame the important discussions that are held with OEMs throughout the year. The greater your response rate, the more weight the survey results carry.

And perhaps some of the greatest results have come from ATD’s 2017-2018 study conducted by ACT Research, the Commercial Truck Dealer Future Landscape. The lessons from this study are many. Truck dealers must adapt to an ever-evolving environment, including coping with big data that impacts our dealerships, adapting to new technology particularly autonomous trucks, and staying informed about federal regulations that dictate how we operate our businesses. Much like my daughter registering for college classes, managing a truck dealership requires focus and an acceptance that every day can be a learning experience.

Speaking of registration, it’s never too early to register for the ATD Show 2019 in San Francisco from Jan. 24-27. I urge you to take advantage of early registration as hotels are filling up quickly. You will benefit from the keynote speaker sessions, learning from our renowned educational workshops and attending important make meetings with OEMs. The annual show is a culmination of everything we have seen and learned in our great commercial-truck industry.

ATD recognizes that even adults must continue their education so that we can succeed despite an ever-changing business landscape. Now is the time to capitalize on our record sales, set goals for the future and continue learning from industry experts and one another. After all, the future of our industry rests in our desire to never stop learning.

Teuton is ATD chairwoman and vice president of Kenworth of Louisiana, a full-service dealership with seven locations in the state (Baton Rouge, Houma, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, New Orleans and Shreveport), a full-service Hino dealership (Baton Rouge) and Southland Truck Leasing at all dealership locations. ATD, a division of the National Automobile Dealers Association, represents more than 1,800 medium- and heavy-duty truck dealerships.

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National Automobile Dealers Association