Ward pilots TCA into next chapter — Taking The Hire Road

In this episode of DriverReach's "Taking The Hire Road," guest host Leah Shaver, who serves as the President and CEO of the National Transportation Institute, engages in a conversation with Jim Ward, the President of the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA).

Trade associations play a pivotal role in the trucking industry by offering their members access to professional development resources, opportunities to build and strengthen relationships, and avenues to advance the interests of their members. Recent research conducted by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) has even demonstrated that motor carriers actively engaged in state and national membership associations tend to have better safety records.

Jim Ward emphasizes that the motor carrier industry is highly competitive and ever-evolving. Participation in group discussions, networking with peers and industry suppliers, and engaging with associations is a valuable means for companies to stay current with industry trends, developments, and future prospects.

TCA, as the nation's exclusive trade organization focused solely on truckload carriers, represents operators of over 220,000 trucks across North America. Its primary mission is to enhance its members' productivity, profitability, and their ability to provide top-notch service.

Before taking on his role as President of TCA, Jim Ward was an active member of the association for three decades. His journey, from being a member to advancing through the leadership ranks to the chairmanship, has endowed him with a unique perspective and deep insights into what truly matters to the association's members.

During his discussions with leaders in the trucking industry and the TCA leadership team, recurring themes emerged:

  1. Enhancing the truck driving job.
  2. Promoting safer roadways and fostering good relations as responsible neighbors on highways.
  3. Managing costs effectively.
  4. Committing to environmental sustainability.
  5. Addressing industry image issues.

Beyond educating its members, legislators, and the general public about these critical matters, TCA provides educational opportunities through certification programs. Some of these programs are bundled with TCA dues, offering a tangible return on investment for members. The North American Transportation Management Institute under TCA offers certification programs in safety and risk management, maintenance and supervisory roles, and driver's trainer certification. Through its learner's management system, TCA also provides certification in fleet management and HR/recruiting and retention.

While continuous education is essential, advocating for members before lawmakers to drive policy changes and ultimately enhance the trucking profession remains a core aspect of TCA's mission. In just a few weeks, TCA will host its Call on Washington event, bringing together members for an opportunity to meet with government representatives on Capitol Hill. The goal is to share personal stories that illuminate how policy decisions directly impact their businesses.

Jim Ward stressed, "We don't want lawmakers making decisions solely from their perspective, leaving us to deal with the unintended consequences of bad decisions. They need to hear from those who create jobs and keep America moving."

Parking availability has emerged as a major issue that TCA has been actively addressing, as it significantly impacts the daily logistics of drivers' jobs. The average driver spending an hour searching for a safe parking spot is a real concern. TCA is making strides in this regard, advocating for more parking spaces that are not only ample in number but also safe, well-lit, and equipped with amenities for drivers.

Jim Ward's advice to carriers includes monitoring the status of rest areas in their respective states, identifying any closures, and applying pressure on local and state representatives to reopen them in the interim.

Furthermore, TCA is committed to improving the quality of life for drivers on the road, which plays a pivotal role in attracting more young individuals to the trucking profession. As many experienced truck drivers are nearing retirement, promoting truck driving as a first-choice career option among high school students becomes crucial. Jim Ward emphasized the need for the industry to effectively convey how the profession has evolved and continues to change, highlighting that it's no longer the same job as their grandfathers or even their fathers experienced.


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