Don’t be in the silent majority

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If I asked you to name the mayor of your hometown, could you do it? Sure.

What about the town council? Most of them, right?

Governor of your state? Easy. Legislators? Maybe.

The further we get away from where we pick up our mail – and the further down the chain of command we go – the less we pay attention to the details, espe- cially in politics.

We know full-well when President Obama signs or kills a bill, but very few of us follow the details to that point. And at that point it’s too late to do anything about it.

I found myself Googling the name of the state representative that serves my hometown recently. I was ashamed.

To be clear, I live in a seriously gerrymandered district where you could hit a golf ball from my district into about three others. But that’s no excuse.

Trucking is one industry that can be affected from a thousand different directions, and it’s nearly impossible to keep track of all the angles that affect change. Staying up-to-date on the Highway Bill, import and export regulations and countless other things is challenging even for Google Alerts.

That’s where industry organizations like the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association (HDMA) are vital.

HDMA and its parent, the Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA), look at key legislative priorities that affect parts suppliers in every segment of the motor vehicle industry on both state and federal levels.

Tim Myers, president of Alcoa Wheels, was named 2015 chairman of the
Heavy Duty Manufacturing Association (HDMA) at the 25th Annual Breakfast Briefing at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., last month.

“HDMA is a strong effective organization because of our members,” Myers adds, noting membership grew by 18 percent in the past year.

That membership is already going to work. HDMA’s Legislative Summit will be held this month. As part of the Summit, senior officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will participate in a panel discussion, giving HDMA members an opportunity to hear from senior NHTSA officials about their key issues.

Gas tax and infrastructure may not sound all that interesting when you just want to sell parts and service, but those things can inflict serious carnage on a business if not properly managed. And when’s the last time anything in Washington was properly managed by an elected official?

Organizations like HDMA are there to manage the flow of conversation for the good of the industry. But for them to adequately do that, you have to make your voice heard.

You don’t have to roll up your sleeves and get elbow-deep in these issues, but you should. Rolling up your sleeves doesn’t necessarily even mean going to Washington, but it does mean supporting those willing to fight on the front lines.

If you’re not a member of HDMA or any other organization that has influence over this industry, I suggest you start your search now.

Innovation leads to regulation, and trucking is innovating at a break-neck pace. If a piece of legislation hasn’t touched your business yet, it’s only a matter of time before that changes.

I encourage you to do what you can to be in front of change before it sneaks up on and steamrolls over the silent majority.

At that point, you don’t have the opportunity to make your voice heard.

Truckers aren’t the only ones driving trucking. Lawmakers do it to, and you’re going to want your interests loudly represented in the passenger’s seat when a legislator grabs the wheel.

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