Mike Payne, president and chief executive officer of the Truck Renting and Leasing Assn., has seen what happens when a business does not plan for management succession. So he is making sure that when it comes time for him to step down, new leadership is in place.
Former TRALA staff member Peter Vroom has returned as executive vice president, in preparation for taking the helm when Payne relinquishes it on Jan. 1, 2002.
"I did not want to leave without a successor in place," said Payne. "Peter will become president and CEO when I leave."
TRALA members want a controlled transition and continued leadership and persistence on their policy concerns, Payne said. "Peter can take us to the next level of growth and maturity, and the TRALA board has taken the initiative to make that happen."
Vroom was vice president of government relations for TRALA from 1991 to 1997, when he left to form Legislative Solutions, a company that monitors state regulation and legislation and provides federal lobbying.
He came back to TRALA because he saw "an exciting opportunity to lead a trade association," Vroom said.
"Truck renting and leasing will be one of the more innovative transportation industries, going forward." Vroom explained that transportation managers will look to renting and leasing as they search for the most efficient way to move their products – particularly as e-commerce evolves as a presence in the market.
Payne intends to keep his hand in at TRALA after Vroom takes over. His first project will be to strengthen the group’s trailer council, the incoming chairman of which is Chris Hines, president of TIP.
Commercial trailer renting and leasing has unique issues, Payne said. One is the "vicarious liability" law in some states that holds renting and leasing companies liable for damages caused by their customers' accidents, whether or not they could have prevented the accidents. TRALA members also are concerned about discriminatory taxes and registration burdens in some states.
"We need to take on these issues and iron them out," said Payne.
Over the next couple of years, though, Payne will be focused on TRALA’s big issues – and on an opportunity arising from the restructuring of American Trucking Assns.
On the policy front, TRALA’s number one concern is its effort in Illinois and Massachusetts to overturn an apportioned corporate income tax on small leasing companies. Payne explained that the companies' only connection with those states is that their customers occasionally drive leased vehicles through them – yet the states are trying to charge for past fuel tax liability.
New Mexico is trying to do the same thing, Payne said. "We will sue them if they don’t back off. The compliance costs can break the back of a small company."
TRALA also will continue its full-court press for a federal legislative remedy to state vicarious liability laws. On the state level, the association is working for parity between leasing and ownership taxes. Additionally, TRALA is pushing for reform of the alternative minimum tax.
The opportunity Payne sees is tied to ATA’s decision to focus on federal affairs and reduce its support for state trucking associations. "This creates an opportunity to strengthen our working rapport with state trucking associations," said Payne. "We are looking for new and innovative ways to provide a strong presence at state levels through efforts to enhance state trucking associations."
TRALA is increasing its financial support for the Trucking Association Executives Council, the organization of state trucking association chiefs, and is looking for more ways to help, Payne said. "It’s an example of how we can and will work together under the new arrangement."
Vroom is no longer associated with Legislative Solutions, but his experience with the company’s computer-based system for tracking state legislation and regulations will buttress TRALA’s efforts, Payne said.
Vroom also is well versed in another TRALA issue: more flexibility on truck weight limits. Over the past couple of years he served as director of Americans for Safe and Efficient Transportation, a coalition of interests pushing to give states the freedom to raise their weight limits to 97,000 pounds. "TRALA will continue to press that issue," said Vroom.
Founded in 1978, TRALA has 665 full service leasing and commercial daily rental company members, plus all four of the one-way consumer daily rental companies. In addition, it has 117 associate member companies.