Guest Editorial: Answering the Call

The Indiana Motor Truck Association (IMTA) is a strong voice for trucking in Indiana. Founded in 1934, the IMTA is the Indiana affiliate of the American Trucking Associations. The united voice of the IMTA gives us a stronger presence with lawmakers and regulators.

Whether it’s lobbying for positive state and federal legislation or combating anti-industry regulations, our members’ interests are IMTA’s call to action.

Even though I’m safety manager for IMTA, my work involves a lot more than just safety. It involves positive promotion for the trucking industry through programs and championships. It involves politics as we follow the laws and regulations at the state house.

We are there to look out for the interests of members and non-members alike. Our access to decision-makers makes living with the government easier for the trucking industry.

My job also involves sales, because we are constantly looking for new members—it takes energetic members to join together to make our highways safer.

One thing that we don’t have is an active Maintenance Council. At one time there was a Maintenance Council here at the IMTA, and our members love to tell me all about the good ole’ days, but they always say, “As jobs changed and companies restructured the maintenance council got smaller and smaller until there was no maintenance council at all.”

That’s a shame, especially since the interest in having a maintenance council has never gone away.

The problem was that the people who had been in leadership positions in the council changed jobs and moved on, and nobody else picked it up. And so it just fizzled away.

But that seems to be changing, in large part due to Wal-Mart, a member of our Safety Management Council. Wal-Mart has two distribution centers here in Indiana; one has over 100 trucks, and the other has about 70.

They both have their own shops, and they have their own maintenance competition. But they have told me that they’d like to have a competition locally, and to get that going it has to start with a maintenance council. At the same time that Wal-Mart has been promoting that idea, I’ve kept hearing from other safety council members that, “Maintenance is half of safety.”

It’s an ongoing theme in the safety Management Council that, in order for our drivers to be safe, we need to give them safe equipment. Because of that, I am constantly aware that our members always want more information on maintenance. Then, when I first talked with the editorial staff of Fleet Maintenance about other states with maintenance councils, I realized I needed to take heed.

It makes perfect sense that the Safety Management Council should be the conduit for maintenance information to IMTA’s members. We work very closely with government agencies such as State Police, Department of Revenue and Transportation and even the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. We are in a perfect position to make things happen.

Before I came to my position with the Indiana Motor Truck Association, I worked for Wal-Mart. I’ve been to Arkansas, and I’ve been to a number of the technician competitions there, so I’ve seen how it works, and I’ve got the right people to call.

Currently, I’m gathering information from other states on how they put their meetings together, what information their sharing. I’m trying to establish a format for how a State Maintenance Council should be organized, and how the meetings should be run.

The Safety Management Council meets every second Tuesday of the month in Indianapolis, and it’s very popular. We have 40 or 50 people at each meeting. We could tailor our Maintenance Council meetings on that model, or we could have a segment on maintenance at the Safety Council meeting.

As the new year begins, my goal is to launch the Maintenance Council as quickly as possible. The first Safety Management Council meeting of 2008 is coming up, and I plan to announce our objective to form a Maintenance Council at that meeting. The timing is perfect!

My hope is that we get a few members to come forward at that meeting and take ownership of the Maintenance Council. All it takes is a handful of volunteers it make it happen.

Wish us well!