Automotive World: Transport’s image makeover shifts into second year

By Megan Lampinen

The US transport industry’s image makeover kicked off one year ago with the Trucking Moves America Forward (TMAF) movement. Officially launched at the 2014 Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS), the industry’s largest truck event, TMAF seeks to project a positive image and stronger connection with policymakers and the general public. At this year’s MATS it marked its oneyear anniversary, celebrating a number of achievements including reaching its goal of raising US$1m.

Co-chairman of TMAF, President of Jet Express, Inc, and SeconTMAF-FB600x600-Shareables-007d Vice Chairman of American Trucking Associations Kevin Burch spoke to Automotive World about the key accomplishments during the first 12 months. “We had some naysayers, who questioned, ‘What will you do if it’s not successful?’ We had to lay the groundwork. Laying the foundation takes time,” he explained. In the past year, the movement has attracted more than 140 donors; 3,000 subscribers; 25,400 YouTube views; 2,330 Facebook likes and 890 Twitter followers. “It’s not all about money,” said Burch. “We’re getting a lot of support inkind.”In fact, TMAF received more than US$4m of in-kind donations through advertising, sponsorships, trade shows and printing. “This momentum is building. I’ve talked to several vendors/suppliers, who said that they were really interested in TMAF because as more people get involved, they are able to better sell their

products. ”

While considerable headway was made in terms of laying the groundwork, Burch believes there is much work still to be done. “What a great time to be in trucking. The economy in North America is picking up, fuel costs are a bit lower, but we still have a driver shortage and we still need to work on the image. We have done a terrible job telling our story,” he said. Over the years, some of the pride associated with the industry seems to have been lost. “In late 1960s and 1970s, things changed. Now we’re trying to eat healthier, educate drivers, try to get family home time,” he pointed out. TMAF wants to make sure drivers are portrayed as skilled professionals and devoted family people who value safety, efficiency and reliability. The trucking industry contributed US$682bn to the US economy in 2013 and moved 80% of all freight in the country. Today, an estimated 1 in 17 Americans is involved in trucking and TMAF wants to make sure everyone understands just how essential this industry is and how hard its members work. “We’re safe, we’re reliable, we’re needed. We wanted to inform the motoring public and the people making rules for our industry, and let the people in this profession know how important they are,” said Burch.

He has always maintained that TMAF is “not a campaign, this is a movement. It’s going to keep going.” Moving into its second year, the campaign will continue to raise money to get its story across. “We want more people to get on Facebook and to get more acquainted with what we have online. We want to take our story to city government, organizations that should know what we’re doing,” he said. The vibe from the trucking industry today is a positive one. Commenting on the this year’s MATS, Burch observed: “This was my third time at MATS and I noticed that this year’s event by far was more attended. There were younger people, family people, couples holding hands. I saw people taking notes with vendors and suppliers. The mood was so much better than two years ago and better than last year. The economy has picked up and the interest was a lot sharper.”

This should bode well for the movement going forward and Burch hopes to see more pride taken in the industry in general. “We need to get back to the environment where families stop at places where truckers stop because they know they can get good food at reasonable prices,” he said. “We call drivers the Knights of the Road and we want them to take pride in what they do.”