With some 566 transportation professionals from around the world in attendance, the SC&RA Specialized Transportation Symposium convened February 18-21 at the Sheraton Charlotte Hotel in Charlotte, NC. Gray skies and intermittent rain and snow didn’t thwart the mood of attendees who were there to learn, network and discuss industry trends and issues affecting the way they do business.

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SC&RA’s Pilot Car Committee discussed route hazards, insurance costs and the problem of truck driver depression.

The STS presents the opportunity for transportation professionals at every level to network with top operations managers, safety directors, safety managers, pilot car professionals, permitting officials, law enforcement and state and federal officials from MAASTO, NASTO, SASHTO and WASHTO.

“Attending the annual SC&RA Transportation Symposium is something that I look forward to each year,” said Edwards Moving and Rigging Safety Director Danny Cain. “It is a great opportunity to network with other industry professionals and provides attendants with the opportunity to obtain the latest and cutting-edge information on new technology and equipment used in the transportation industry.”

Cain appreciates the ability to meet with and discuss regulatory concerns with state DOT officials at the state forums.

“The partnership and synergy that has evolved between the members of SC&RA and federal and state agencies these past years has been absolutely remarkable – these efforts in working together have eliminated many regulatory roadblocks,” Cain said.

Technological advances

Several themes ran through the 2020 Symposium, including technology and how it will impact the future of the industry as well as safety and harmonization.

“The new technology in specialized transportation is on the verge of exploding,” said Steven Todd, SC&RA vice president, transportation. “First, the new permitting related software. New apps like that demonstrated by WCS, new application software that will greatly reduce data entry time such as that announced by Pit Row Group/ProMiles/Nova as well as the advent of verbal permit routing shared by ProMiles suggests the next decade will be one of tremendous progress and change for those carriers who elect to keep up.”

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The Welcome Reception was well attended with old and new friends and colleagues enjoying the opportunity to meet, greet and catch up.

Todd said a key takeaway was having FMCSA Acting Administrator Jim Mullen’s update of the agency’s continued path towards Hours of Service relief. While he didn’t go into specifics, Mullen said SC&RA’s input on the HOS final rule had made an impact on deliberations of the rulemaking body. More than 500 people attended Mullen’s presentation.

Peter J. Vanderzee of LifeSpan Technologies and John Caya of 5C Strategy talked about how new sensor technology is changing the game, opening up more bridges to OS/OW loads.

From economics to demographics, John Maketa tackled the world’s changing demographics and how the industry must adapt. He addressed how baby boomers retiring and millennials assuming leadership roles will change the face of the industry.

Getting involved

A panel of executives from Landstar Transportation Logistics discussed how one of the nation’s leading transportation logistics companies is preparing for the future.

Permitting challenges were a big focus with a two-part presentation that centered on how permitting will evolve in North America.

Caterpillar’s Kathy Barber gave a new perspective on harmonization through the eyes of an OEM. She discussed how working with the manufacturers, the industry can achieve such initiatives as the SC&RA’s UPT2020.

One of the most valuable parts of the Symposium is that attendees can sit in on SC&RA committee meetings and contribute to the discussions of the Association’s leadership.

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The Exhibit Center included 56 companies showing products and services geared to the specialized transportation sector. 

The Pilot Car Committee met on Tuesday afternoon to a packed room of attendees interested in state updates, pilot car certifications, route hazards and insurance costs. One of the most interesting topics dealt with the issue of truck driver depression and the startling statistics. The Permit Policy and Transportation Safety Education & Training committees also met.

The 2021 Specialized Transportation Symposium will be held February 16-19 at the Sheraton Birmingham Hotel in Birmingham, AL.

Grooming new leadership

Developed to help fast-track the best and brightest young minds to the next levels of professional and SC&RA leadership, the Leadership Forum convened on Wednesday, February 19 as a part of the Specialized Transportation Symposium in Charlotte, NC.

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The STS Leadership Forum is involving the industry’s next generation of leaders. 

Selected attendees included Larry Barnes, Bennett International Group; Philippe Bellemare, Transport Bellemare International; Julie Jereczek, Landstar Transportation Logistics; Craig McGraw, Trans American Trucking Services; Amber Palecek, Palco Transportation; David Pritchett, Acme Truck Lines; Zach Ragsdale, CMH Transport; Nick Ruscito-Caissy, ODS North America; and Richard Silvey, Omega Morgan. ACT Assistant Editor Hannah Sundermeyer sat in on the event.

The group weaved in and out of scheduled committee meetings and mainstage presentations during the larger Symposium. They networked with each other and connected with “mentors,” which SC&RA had matched. Dialogue centered around building industry connections, having a better understanding of SC&RA and brainstorming ideas to solve common business issues. Hot topics included OS/OW permits, the skilled labor shortage and training/certification issues.

“One of the key takeaways of the Forum is helping the next generation continue to grow within the industry and Association,” said Jason Bell, SC&RA membership director. “Through building relationships with the current generation and facilitating the exchange of knowledge, experience and expertise, the Forum will continue to help the industry excel.”

Forum participants garnered a valuable understanding of both leadership and the trade.