“The direct result of that was it gave me and the board an opportunity to see the kind of attendance and feedback we would get, and this was definitely a topic that was very well-received,” says Riegle. “We’ve gotten a lot of feedback from people who were at the meeting, about how much they enjoyed it, and how much they definitely would like to see more topics revolving around maintenance, so it’s definitely been put on the radar. Which is great, because at the end of the day we’re in this to help our members, and to give them as much bang for their buck as paying members of the IMTA as we can. This gives us new material to use to help out our members.”
“If a maintenance guy can talk to another maintenance guy and say, ‘We’re doing this, and we gained two or three extra miles per gallon,’ that helps everybody,” says Roberts. “So, this just seemed like a great opportunity to reach out and talk to our maintenance guys from IMTA; because we want them to know that we remember them too, and we know how important they are, because they don’t always get the recognition that they should.”
Eder’s plans are to build on the excitement of the April meeting by forming a committee to review the meeting results, and conduct a survey of IMTA members to gauge the potential support for ongoing maintenance meetings.
Sadly, Eder does not expect the IMTA board to approve a stand-alone Maintenance Council, no matter what the survey tells them. It’s not because the board doesn’t value maintenance, however, it’s simply a matter of available manpower and resources.
“It’s just because we are a small association,” she says. “There are only four of us. So that makes it hard for us to start new councils and run those councils, free-standing on their own.”
What Eder does see is IMTA launching a Maintenance Council as a part of the existing Safety Management Council. After all, she says, “Safety and maintenance go hand-in-hand.”
Of course, Eder’s report back to the IMTA board is only half the story. What about those new attendees at the April meeting? What they reported back to their boards is every bit as important.
If what Riegle has been hearing since April is any indication, there is definitely a positive buzz in the boardrooms of the Indiana trucking community.
“What I saw with this meeting was probably five to ten people who had never been involved,” says Riegle. “And not only five or ten people, but a lot of different carriers that we had not ever touched that showed a lot of interest in this meeting.
“What we got out of it as a council is the feedback from the carriers: this is the kind of meeting they’ve been looking for, something where we can come and not only receive information, but also have the ability to bounce ideas off other carriers and see what they’re doing,” he says. “Kind of a collective; we’re competitors, but at the end of the day we’re all in this together, and we’re trying to figure out what can help our company from a safety and operation outlook, and what can we do to make the industry better?”
In other words, the only way a Maintenance Council can be successful is if it delivers tangible benefits to its members.
“When you get a good, core group of people together, and that’s their main objective, you can generate some really good ideas that people can take back to their companies,” says Riegle. “Then, when the president or CEO asks why we should be a part of this council, why should we be spending money sending someone to Indianapolis, they can stand up and say, ‘Listen, these three ideas came from that meeting, and it directly affected our bottom line by x.’ They have something to show the people they report to, to show that they really are getting something out of this.”
By the time you read this, the IMTA will have held its season-ending Spring Meeting in early May. Members will have had a chance to discuss the April meeting, Association staff will have had a chance to sound out members on their willingness to support a Maintenance Council, and the wheels will, in all likelihood, be in motion.
At that point, Riegle, Eder and the IMTA board have the rest of the summer to make plans.
“When we get together this summer, I’ll get more info from Tisha on what the IMTA’s thoughts are on the Maintenance Council, and involving more maintenance issues,” Riegle explains. “Tisha would be the liaison between the IMTA and the Council, and I know she says that the Maintenance Council is definitely something the IMTA is considering.”
How to make a State Maintenance Council happen.
State and local Maintenance Councils offer something for everybody.