By Jodie Teuton, Chairwoman, American Truck Dealers

Anyone who knows a truck dealer knows that we are not afraid of work. After my first year serving as your chair of the American Truck Dealers (ATD), I can tell you that the value of a year’s hard work—with the power of a strong association behind you—is immeasurable.

We’ve accomplished so much together in 2018. Our network of truck dealers has worked harder than ever to navigate an ever-evolving market and the advent of new technology. On top of that, we continuously steer through our mainstream challenges like complex manufacturer and supplier product demands, ever-increasing big data, government regulations and, most importantly, the demands of our consumers. With all these challenges around us, ATD proactively commissioned ACT research to examine the future landscape of our market. The themes that emerged from the research are guiding our strategic planning and focusing our energy toward the most critical aspects of our dealerships.

In that regard, I am proud that NADA and ATD are taking the initiative to tackle our industry’s workforce shortage. For dealers to meet future staffing demands, our industry needs thousands of skilled technicians by 2026. And in the truck industry, diesel technicians are even harder to find. This is a critical issue that ATD is facing head-on. In September, I had the privilege of attending the White House economic summit with fellow NADA and ATD leaders. We are spearheading our industry’s effort to address the job skills crisis; to recruit and retain technicians; and to raise national awareness about dealership jobs. I’m excited to tell you about our initiative at ATD Show 2019.

Our advocacy for you on Capitol Hill has been as forceful as ever. ATD’s top legislative priority in 2018 has been to repeal the federal excise tax (FET) enacted in 1917. Yes, we are fighting a tax that was levied 101 years ago. It has long outlived its usefulness. The tax has ballooned from 3 percent to 12 percent and it makes it harder for our customers to afford a new truck. Truck dealers and automotive trade association executives converged on Capitol Hill in June for our annual ATD Legislative Fly-in. I’d like to thank all those passionate advocates for truck dealers. We encouraged Congress to revisit the FET and we worked hard to garner support for H.R. 2946, “the Heavy Truck, Tractor and Trailer Retail FET Repeal Act.” Our efforts during the fly-in resulted in 10 new cosponsors on the House bill. We were also successful in getting a Senate FET repeal bill (S. 3052) introduced by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). This fall ATD launched our World War I poster theme to highlight that this tax was started in 1917. ATD issued a press release in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day that highlighted our FET repeal efforts. And finally, ATD is in the process of forming a new FET repeal coalition to grow the voice and the drum beat surrounding FET repeal.

Finally, I congratulate fellow truck dealers on your successes this year! Truck sales are as healthy as ever with Class 8 sales up 32.5 percent compared to last year and medium-duty sales up 6.8 percent. I’m proud to say that we are selling the cleanest, safest and most fuel-efficient trucks ever. I thank those who have worked to improve performance and have taken advantage of their ATD membership. Plan to join an ATD 20 Group; send an employee to the ATD Academy; or sign on to NADA online and take an educational class. Never forget that your association is here to help every day of the year.

Allow me to congratulate you on a job well done at the ATD Show in San Francisco from Jan. 24-27. It’s been four years since we’ve had our annual celebration in the City by the Bay. If you haven’t registered for the ATD Show, do it now so you don’t miss the greatest commercial-truck dealer industry event of the year!

On behalf of ATD, have a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season … and thank you for your year’s hard work with us!

Teuton is 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