Steve Bassett, dealer principal of General Truck Sales in Muncie, Indiana, took the helm of the American Truck Dealers as chairman during the 2020 ATD Show in Las Vegas.
During his first speech as chairman, Bassett shared his goals and platform for ATD during his two-year term, as well as highlighted the pending evolution of the commercial truck industry in terms of both positive product development and potential threats to the industry.
“We’re living in a time where trucks are being outfitted with new power sources. New technology leads to new laws, which lead to more regulations," said Bassett. “The good news is our dealer model will remain stable. We will continue to sell internal combustion engines well into the future.”
Bassett, a second-generation truck dealer who also sells Isuzu, Hino and Mack, also vowed to press forward with ATD’s effort to repeal the federal excise tax, a levy on heavy-duty trucks used to fund the Highway Trust Fund.
“We, as ATD members, must look down the road — far, far down the road. We need to spot trouble before it starts, and we need to do what it takes to get the job done. Let’s start by looking at the issues that are directly in our headlights.”
Bassett further noted that that the future of the commercial truck industry is dependent upon the actions and engagement of ATD members.
“But our future also depends on how well we respond to new customer demands. How strongly we advocate for our business in Washington, D.C. And how quickly we respond to threats in the next decade,” added Bassett.
During a NADA Live Stage session Sunday evening, Bassett further discussed his priorities as ATD chairman, including the Workforce Initiative, which promotes the value of dealership jobs, especially service technicians.
“We need about 75,000 diesel technicians by 2022,” said Bassett. “Our workforce recruitment, and our workforce retainment, is probably the single biggest issue anyone in this building has today. We need to reach out and do things we’ve never done before. The Workforce Initiative is a great step.”
Outgoing Chairwoman Jodie Teuton spoke for the last time in her role with ATD during the show, citing the tenacity of dealers as the source of ATD’s successful year.
“Tenacity is when you take hold and refuse to let go,” said Teuton, co-founder and vice president of Kenworth of Louisiana. “Tenacity is how we make it through the cycles – sometimes beat up and bruised, but we come out on the other side.”
She also urged dealers to be forward-thinking and work together as they look to the future of the commercial truck industry.
“Just like trucks require preventative maintenance, so does our advocacy efforts; we need to be forward-thinking. We have to keep ahead of possible problems to prolong our up time and have the proper maintenance to get us to the next cycle,” said Teuton.
She also reminded ATD members that their participation in the organization is vital.
“ATD has become a part of my family. It has been such a humbling experience,” she said. “It’s hard to express how much I appreciate the love and support I’ve received from this industry. I’m so bless to be in this business.”