THE eyes of Texas are upon Canada.

No, that is not a new version of the 1903 song written by John Sinclair that became the alma mater at the University of Texas, or of the 1948 film starring Roy Rogers.

It's a snapshot of the primary issue that will be discussed at the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers Convention and Trade Show to be held February 8-10 at the Fort Worth Convention Center. (And there is a tie-in there, because Eyes of Texas was sung by a group of schoolchildren at President John F Kennedy's breakfast speech in Fort Worth on the morning of his assassination on November 22, 1963.)

NATM members that export trailers to Canada have been experiencing difficulties with the Canadian pre-certification clearance. The two issues are:

  • Canada is now requiring the appointment of a single-source importer for matters relating to the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Canada). Previously, each dealer had to be registered. The purpose of the single importer of record is to reduce paperwork for the manufacturer and Transport Canada.

  • Conformance with S4.4.1(b) of FMVSS (TSD) 110. There was a rewrite of the section of FMVSS 110 that requires rapid deflation testing on tires. Originally, the testing was applicable to “cars and light trucks,” but the rewrite changed that to “motor vehicles,” which would include trailers. NATM doesn't believe the intent was to include trailers in this testing requirement, but Transport Canada is requiring this testing based in the way the regulation is now written. NATM is working to resolve this issue with NHTSA and Transport Canada so that its members can continue to export trailers to Canada.

Transport Canada's Peter Zongora will appear at workshops on Wednesday, February 8, from 10-11:30 am and Friday, February 10 from 1:30-3 pm to discuss new initiatives by Transport Canada to streamline their pre-clearance process for importing to Canada. Ministry officials will also discuss current trailer issues in Canada. There will be time for questions and answers.

“Our members are having trouble getting into Canada, so it's a hot-button topic for us,” said NATM membership director Allison Malmstrom. “It's just crippling the members because they have loads they can't get through. When 60%, 70%, 80% of your business is going to Canada, it's especially burdensome.”

This is the convention's first time in Texas since 2001, when it was held in San Antonio, and the first time ever in Fort Worth (although it was held 40 miles away in Dallas in 1999).

“We're excited to be in Texas,” Malmstrom said. “We hope it's a good draw for us. We've tried to go between the East Coast and West Coast. We tried Charleston and Reno, and went to Albuquerque last year. We wanted a central location. There's no golf anymore, but we are just trying to keep it in the South for weather purposes. Fort Worth welcomed us with open arms. Their convention center isn't as big as Dallas', so it won't seem so overwhelming.”

The convention, with a theme of “Blazing a Trail for Trailer Safety,” features another round of the educational workshops that are one of the most popular events at the convention. Topics will include business-to-business negotiating skills, a roundtable discussion on current and pending logistics issues, and a “back-to-basics” session that will cover FMVSS and NATM compliance.

The schedule:

  • “Structural Adhesive Solutions for Trailer Fabrication,” Wednesday, February 8, 10-11:30 am. Presenter: Michael Verdi, LORD Corporation.

    Structural adhesives have been proven to assist trailer manufacturers meet today's challenges in terms of alleviating corrosion issues, minimizing stress concentration points, reducing assembly time, and minimizing most associated material costs. Designed for bonding galvanized steel and aluminum as well as other specialty substrates such as composites, plastics, and wood, structural adhesives also serve well as a sealant, insulator, and vibration dampener. Verdi has worked for more than five years as a senior technical service representative at LORD Corporation and has focused on assisting both internal and external customers by means of providing meter mix dispensing (MMD) equipment service and setup, and creating clamping and fixturing means for new/existing applications. In addition, Verdi is responsible for training distributors and account managers on the LORD industrial Adhesive product line, visiting customer facilities to conduct audits, and establishing sales tools.

  • “The Art of Execution,” Wednesday, February 8, 1:30-3 pm. Presenter: John Martin, PPG Industries Inc.

    In order to thrive in today's competitive environment, organizations must be able to implement change. And, while most organizations do a great job identifying what needs to be accomplished, those same organizations struggle to execute planned changes. The purpose of this workshop is to provide a simple, powerful approach to leadership execution to improve individual and organizational performance. Martin has held various positions in automotive refinish sales, technical coatings and product application instruction, regional training management, refinish curriculum development, continuing education for insurance agents and MVP business development education.

  • “Back to Basics,” Wednesday, February 8, 1:30-3 pm. Presenters: Nathan Taylor, Peterson Manufacturing; Randy McMann, Titan International; Don Vishy, LaClede Chain; Von Lindsey, Lindsey Research; and Greg Soden and Clint Lancaster, NATM.

    NATM has assembled a panel of key individuals in the industry to address trailer compliance questions and issues. The panel includes Vishy (safety chains), Taylor (lighting), McMann (wheels, tires and brakes), Lindsey (VIN and certification label) and Soden (NATM compliance consultant). They will discuss current compliancy issues, answer questions and help provide possible solutions for specific problems.

  • “Business-to-Business Negotiating Skills: Creating Profitable, Long-term Business Relationships,” Wednesday, February 8, 1:30-3 pm. Presenter: Ron Black, The Mentor Group.

    Whether your style is “love to bargain” or “please don't make me dicker,” this session delivers the key principles, elements and skills of creating successful deals for fruitful, long-term business relationship. Negotiating success depends on how well you can help others get what they want, on your terms. Maximize your results with vendors, customers and colleagues in this power-packed program. Participants learn why it's important to bond before bargaining, how to identify the facts and feelings essential to a deal, how to create successful strategies, position interests, uncover what the other side really wants, and communicate it all with confidence, composure, and persuasive punch. You'll learn how to prepare, probe, propose, and close deals that optimize your success. As the founder of nine businesses, Black has experienced, dealt with, and can discuss the inevitable challenges associated with new and growing companies first-hand. In his management consulting firm, The Mentor Group (established in 1988), he has advised and assisted in the launch of literally scores of companies, products, and services. On four occasions, Black has served as the interim turn-around executive for troubled firms.

  • “Roundtable on Current and Pending Logistic Issues,” Thursday, February 9, 10-11:30 am.” Presenters: Garland Hutson, Priefert Logistics, LP, and David Owen, National Association of Small Trucking Companies.

    Hutson and Owen will lead a discussion of regulatory and other pressing business issues, such as tight capacity and rate increases, facing both users and transportation services. Owen is co-founder and president of the National Association of Small Trucking Companies (NASTC), an association representing 3000 full truckload, long-haul, irregular route, for-hire carriers in 48 states. There are approximately 52,000 power units and 55,000 drivers in the group. Hutson has held numerous positions in logistics, including sales, operations, and management with both manufacturers and with motor carriers. Priefert Logistics is a provider of transportation services to a wide spectrum of customers, including utility trailer manufacturers, steel processors, oil-field-equipment manufacturers and construction equipment.

  • “Maximize Outputs,” Thursday, February 9, 10-11:30 am. Presenter: David Vedera, BV Alan. There's only one way to achieve high productivity over the long term: make it about results. At the individual level, this means that every worker must always have clear expectations, control of their necessary resources and immediate constructive feedback. Vedera, the owner and president of BV Alan, is a trusted advisor to technology and manufacturing leaders, helping them with their operations and workforce challenges. He specializes in interim and transitional management to companies looking to eliminate waste, transform business success, and recover wasted time.

  • “What Your Trainers Aren't Teaching You About Press Brakes,” Friday, February 10, 1:30-3 pm. Presenter: Steven D Benson, Asma LLC.

    This workshop looks at baseline knowledge often missed or overlooked by both engineering and on the shop floor — getting the most from press brakes. Benson, president of Asma LLC, with over 30 years of forming and sheet-metal experience, is the author of seven textbooks. To date, he is the author of 61 published articles in several magazines including The Fabricator, The Fabricator.com, Forming and Fabricating, and the International Review in the UK.

The membership meeting on Thursday, February 9, at 7:30 am will feature keynote speaker Jeff R Tucker.

Tucker will speak on the importance of defining “service.” Drawing on his many experiences as a civil servant, his message seeks to define service or a call to service with and for our fellow man. We are all called upon to give of ourselves. Such calls to service can come in varied forms — that ripple effect of a call to duty comes with great responsibility, and how we perceive such service to others defines us.

A native of Fort Worth, he served as a career firefighter with the Fort Worth Fire Department working in fire operations, as a fire marshal, EMT, police officer, and fireman, and within the arson/bomb squad as an arson investigator, and as a hazardous-devices technician (bomb tech).

Tucker, a self-professed cowboy, comes from a ranching family, spending much of his youth in central and west Texas, where his family taught him the honest common sense values of the cowboy way — a man's word is his badge of honor, and actions speak louder than words.

After retiring from the FWFD after 20 years, he returned to his alma mater, Texas Christian University, where he worked with collegiate athletes as an academic advisor while pursuing his higher degrees within the fields of philosophy and history. Tucker travels the globe within the fitness world as a subject matter expert for CrossFit Inc, where he teaches gymnastic seminars on strength training/body movement for adults and professional athletes as part of an innovative fitness methodology.

His new book, Gymnos: Strength Training and Body Movement, is soon to be published by Victory Press Publications. Tucker published two books prior to this, both delving into thesis on fire-fighting service, and has published several historical papers concerning volunteer firefighting companies rooted in the 1770s to the 1900s and the rise of a modern fire service. He is also an expert on Fort Worth history and the founding of Fort Worth, with an emphasis on its fire service dating back to 1870s.