NEARLY 200 members of the National Trailer Dealers Association gathered Sept. 16-18 at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, to celebrate the association's 15th anniversary.

The program featured two motivational presentations, including a keynote address by Austin McGonigle, president of Success Cycle (Atlanta, GA), and a general session “Serve Customers Like a Pro” from Tony Ruesing, author of Better Questions Better Answers.

Management consultant and dealer relations expert Frank Guerin led two discussion groups that focused on measuring the success of a corporation by analyzing revenues and net worth and understanding cash flow and profitability. Mitigating the rising cost of insurance and reducing losses was the topic of a third discussion led by Program Brokerage Corporation's (New York, NY) Chester Swalm. NTDA communications director Gwen Brown and NTDA board member Holly Hale, president of Country Supply Inc (Manteno, IL) presented “must have” sales and marketing tools for parts and service areas.

NTDA immediate past president Jennifer Blount, president of Carpet Trailer Sales Inc (Dalton, GA), reported positive news about the association's financial status.

For the year ending December 31, 2003, the NTDA's net assets equaled $250,522. Blount stated that the organization is financially stable and currently has a strong reserve base. This is particularly important because it allows the NTDA to look out for its members by providing a high level of service during difficult economic times, and address unforeseen industry issues that could impact the entire membership.

The NTDA's investment income also helps fund some of the operations of the association and allows the NTDA to help underwrite certain member programs and services, such as the Confidential Financial Analysis and Profitability Survey, that many dealer members participated in this year.

Goal of 500 members

The NTDA membership is currently at just over 300 members. At its Sept. 18 meeting, the NTDA Board of Directors set a goal is to grow the membership to 500 total members by next year's annual Convention as it strives to develop new programs and services.

“Value or return on investment for membership dues is the most important factor in joining or remaining a member of any organization,” Blount said. “The NTDA made significant strides in adding even more value this year.”

On December 1, 2003, the NTDA launched a Federal Excise Tax Hotline to answer members' tax questions on issues relating to the sale of new or used semi-trailers. This personalized service is completely underwritten by the association as a benefit of membership. Articles relating to excise tax applications are also posted under the “Members Only” section of the NTDA's completely revamped Web site (http://www.ntda.org/).

In May 2004, the NTDA relaunched its Web site to offer more information resources and services, including the ability for members to post company news items online. Enhancements to the site include a searchable membership directory, and the ability to post used trailers and equipment for sale under the marketplace area. Information about money-saving programs offered by the association is also available on the site, including a discount freight program and credit card processing program.

The market for general liability and other business insurance has been tight in recent years, making it difficult for the NTDA to establish an association-sponsored program. At its September 15 meeting, the NTDA board voted unanimously to approve a Business Insurance Program. Effective October 1, the association began offering a Property and Casualty Program. The insurance underwriters are The Hartford, Chubb, and AIG, and the program will be administered through Program Brokerage Corporation, a subsidiary of the national brokerage firm HUB International Group. Program Brokerage Corporation has specialized in the development, marketing and administration of affinity group insurance for over 20 years.

The NTDA Board also held a strategic planning meeting on September 15 as part of its commitment to excellence. A formal plan is under development and will be presented to the membership and the industry later in the year.

Blount announced the winner of the NTDA Scholarship Program: Alecia Hagen, daughter of Wesley D Hagen, outside parts salesman for Wallwork Truck Center in Fargo, North Dakota. The Scholarship Program is underwritten by Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire LLC (Nashville, TN).

Officers

Blount turned over the presidential gavel to Don Cartwright, president of Cartwright Trailer Sales & Service (Amarillo, TX) during the awards ceremony on Sept. 18. Cartwright presented Blount with a plaque honoring her service to the association. Blount's second time serving as NTDA president with the board expired at the close of the 15th convention. Blount served as NTDA president from 1993 to 1994. During her second tenure on the board, she spearheaded the Bylaws Committee and served on the Membership Recruiting and Scholarship Committees. She also served as convention chairperson and as second and first vice president.

The NTDA's officers: president, Don Cartwright, Cartwright Trailer Sales & Service, Amarillo, TX; first vice president, Alan Sims, Randall Publishing, Tuscaloosa AL; second vice president, Jon Comeford,

Utility Trailers of NE Inc, Seabrook NH; and treasurer/secretary, Angelo Ciciretto, Markham Equipment Sales Ltd, Gormley ON, Canada.

Dealer directors: Holly Hale, Country Supply, Inc, Manteno IL; Bill Huffaker, Trailer Sales of Tennessee, Nashville TN; John Northcutt, Northstar Equipment Corp, Jefferson GA; Elvin Spellman, Spellman Trailers Inc, Franklin WI; Dennis VanLannen, Trudell Trailers, Green Bay WI; and Peter Verbeeck, Utility Trailer Sales & Leasing, Hialeah FL.

Allied directors: Gerard Shepherd, East Manufacturing Corp, Randolph OH; and John Carr Bridgestone/Firestone North American Tire LLC, Nashville TN.

The 16th annual NTDA Convention is Oct. 5-8, 2005, at the Siena Resort Hotel, Spa and Casino in Reno, NV.