NATIONAL Tank Truck Carriers members are heading to San Francisco, California, for the association's 64nd Annual Conference and Tank Truck Equipment Show May 6-8.

Final exhibitor and attendee registration numbers were not available at the time of publication, but NTTC President John Conley says he expects them to meet or exceed those from last year's event in Baltimore.

“We're very pleased with it,” he says. “The location is not the most convenient for everybody, but it's a place a lot of people want to be. We haven't been there for 10 years for a meeting, so a lot of members either are looking forward to going back or have never been there and are excited about going to one of the premier cities in the country in terms of tourism.”

Of course, there is work to do.

One of the key sessions is the Membership and Board of Directors Meeting on Monday, May 7, from 2-4 pm, featuring the NTTC Strategic Plan Update given by Greg Hodgen of Groendyke Transport, Tom Connard of Trimac Transportation, Barbara Windsor of Hahn Transportation, and Dan Furth of NTTC.

They will be discussing steps toward implementation of the NTTC Strategic Plan that were taken at the February meeting in Key Largo, Florida.

Those included:

  • Dues structure changes.

    For the first time in over 20 years, NTTC will implement a modest dues increase for carrier members. This 5% will provide additional resources to enhance membership services, expand presence on Capitol Hill, and boost membership recruitment and retention efforts. In addition, the dues cap on carriers with revenues over $500 million will be raised to $35,000 and the minimum dues level will be $500. These increases took effect April 1, which marked the beginning of the 2012 fiscal year.

  • Governance changes.

    After a thorough review of the literature on association governance and discussions with other associations, NTTC will streamline its governance structure and add more standing committees. The Executive Committee will have 12 positions and the Board will represent up to 20% of the carrier membership base (approximately 40 positions). A regional basis will no longer be used for selecting association leadership; rather, an expanded Nominating Committee will consider such things as geography, business size, market segments, and meeting attendance when nominating members for the Board and Executive Committee. New standing committees will be added to increase membership involvement and association value. Current Executive Committee members who are past NTTC chairmen will automatically become members of the new Board of Directors. This new structure will officially be implemented in San Francisco.

  • New fleet associate category.

    The Fleet Associate Member category will include private fleets, jobbers and distributors, and other non-common carriers that operate tank truck fleets. The NTTC's leadership believes that it can increase the size and influence of the organization while retaining its core mission with the addition of this new category. The Associate Advisory Committee has strongly recommended this action to amplify value to supplier partners. There are currently about 25 associate members in this category and NTTC plans to increase marketing efforts to this important tank truck industry segment. Fleet Associate Members will have a separate dues schedule based on number of tractors/tank trucks operated.

“It's something we've been working on for a couple of years, and we've made quite a few changes at the February membership meeting that we'll be discussing,” Conley says.

Opening Session

The convention begins Sunday, May 6 with the exhibit setup at 11 am. At 3 pm, the equipment show and registration open. The Chairman's reception gets underway at 5:30 pm.

Monday's Opening General Session will feature “2012 Transportation Market Review: Surviving in a volatile business environment,” by Noel Perry of Transport Fundamentals Inc, and “Economic Outlook and Focus on the Tank Truck Industry,” by Bob Costello, chief economist for the American Trucking Associations.

Conley says he has never seen Perry as a presenter, but other staffers have recommended him as someone who does an excellent job of painting a picture of where we are today.

“He's going to look more at the market and what you need to do in today's environment, which will include fuel costs and drivers,” he says. “He will deal with some of the strategies he recommends for his clients on, ‘How do you stay solvent in today's market?’ Certainly there are a lot of businesses out there, but if you're not pricing it right, that won't work for long.”

The Second General Session, held on Tuesday from 9-11 am, will feature “CNG/LNG Fueling the Future,” by Robert Carrick of Freightliner Trucks, Jerry Johnson of Cummins Westport, and Jim Mulvenna of Ruan Transportation.

“I think there will be quite a bit of interest in that,” Conley says. “We are hearing that more and more of our carriers are looking at or have already purchased some natural gas-fueled tractors. Because we are a tank truck industry, some of the members are getting involved in looking at what they need to do to transport products.”

Following the CNG/LNG update, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Report will be given by Jack VanSteenburg, FMCSA's chief safety officer.

Tuesday's events include the opening breakfast at 8 am with the keynote speaker, Charlie Cook. The author of the Cook Report, will speak on, “What to Expect in the 2012 Elections.”

For more than two decades, he has been one of Washington's most trusted political voices. He writes weekly for National Journal magazine and CongressDailyAM, and he also pens a regular column for the Washington Quarterly, published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Once deemed “the Picasso of election analysis” by the Wall Street Journal, Cook produces the sharpest political handicapping in the business.

Cook addresses dozens of associations and corporate clients each year. Using poll numbers, economic indicators, and historical data, Cook forecasts the fortunes of each party in a balanced, non-partisan manner.

“He is, I think, the premier Washington insider,” Conley said. “He seems to have the best insight of the different prognosticators of, “Where's the election going?' He'll talk about the presidential election, but has really good insight on the House and Senate. Are we going to see some changes this year? Given that it's May of an important election year, there will be real interest in what he talks about. He's probably one of most quoted and referenced people in terms of Washington insiders. I think people do pay attention to him.”

Tuesday activities are highlighted by the Safety Awards Luncheon. Exhibits will be open from 8 am to noon. The conference wraps up with Carrier Breakout sessions at 2:30 pm and the Allied Committee for the Trucking Industry Reception at 5 pm.

The conference is being held at The Fairmont, a world-renowned hotel that was home to America's first concierge.

It is known for its architectural grandeur and impeccable service, and has hosted some of the most influential meetings, events, and weddings.

The Fairmont has a panoramic view of the city and the Bay from high atop Nob Hill and is centrally located — just a short cable-car trip from bustling downtown, the Financial District, Union Square, and Fisherman's Wharf.