This article was published in the April 2023 edition of NTEA News.

Work Truck Week 2023 offered a full slate of educational sessions where industry experts and thought leaders shared information and strategies to help companies improve efficiency, implement best practices and enhance operational growth. Key topics addressed market data and industry trends, vehicle engineering and compliance, government regulations, advanced fuels and vehicle technology, workforce development, and more.

This year’s program included a new special session, Leadership Journeys – Highlighting Diverse Experiences, where leaders from various segments of the commercial vehicle community shared their unique experiences and pathways to success.

Concurrent educational sessions included OEM updates, electric vehicle (EV) updates and topics addressing global trends, vehicle design and specification, risk mitigation and more.

Develop Process Building Better Commercial Vehicles – Spec’ing 101
This session, led by Jens Hellberg, CEO of TruckScience, focused on how to spec’ and sell the right vehicles for customers to minimize total cost of ownership and build loyalty. Attendees explored how changing elements in commercial vehicle specifications can be the foundation for improved sales and growth, and learned about resources available from NTEA and TruckScience to help enhance processes and optimize vehicle efficiency.

Creating a Roadmap to Increase Truck Dealer Commercial Vehicle Sales
With current marketplace challenges, it’s easy to sit back and wait for economic improvement before taking action to increase sales. However, there is no better time than now to employ innovative business improvement strategies and overcome obstacles to gain new customers. This special session, led by Ken Taylor, president at Ken Taylor & Associates Inc., provided a blueprint for success to help commercial vehicle businesses grow and prosper.

Fleet Management 101
Conducted by Marc Canton, senior consultant at Mercury Associates Inc., North America’s largest dedicated fleet management consulting firm, this special session offered an introduction to important elements of an effective fleet management program. Topics included maintenance program design and shop operations management; outsourcing and supplier management; performance measurement and benchmarking; managing vehicle total cost of ownership; and fleet replacement.

Fleet Purchasing Outlook – What Customers Are Saying
During this session, Chris Lyon, NTEA director of fleet relations, shared results of the 11th annual Fleet Purchasing Outlook, which assesses commercial fleet procurement plans and industry purchasing. The session provided insights from peers on their direct intentions for the upcoming purchasing cycle, and an understanding of acquisition behaviors and trends. Vehicle upfitters, manufacturers and distributors heard firsthand perspectives to support business strategies, while fleet professionals learned what’s trending within the industry for the coming year.

The Future of Borders and the Work Truck Industry
Companies within the commercial vehicle market move equipment, vehicles and people across the shared borders of the United States, Canada and Mexico almost daily. Dr. Laura Dawson, executive director at Future Borders Coalition, shared the latest policy developments and economic factors that will influence how cross-border business is conducted going forward.

Invigorate Your Best, Don’t Pander to the Rest: How to Make Your Best Performers Flourish
All too often, business leaders unwittingly create a happier environment for their poor performers than their best. Time and again, the best performers are burned out and uninspired, their output is compromised, their capabilities aren’t maximized, and frequently they leave. During this session, Doug Cartland, president at Doug Cartland Inc., shared what good employees really want; ideas for keeping them inspired and motivated; how to create a culture where the best thrive; and how to stop being sucked into the “poor employee vortex” where time and emotional energy are often spent.

Leadership Journeys – Highlighting Diverse Experiences
This new session — moderated by Tina Albright, vice president of human relations and safety at TBEI Inc., with panelists Amy Dobrikova, vice president of fleet solutions at Blink Charging Co.; Exavious (Za) Farley, founder/CEO at Black Fleet Network™; and Kathy Wellik, client success manager at Agile Fleet — provided diverse perspectives, insights and challenges panelists overcome on their journeys to leadership in the work truck industry.

Power Management and Electrical Integration on Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs): Upfitting Considerations and Challenges
This session — moderated by Dave Schaller, industry engagement director at North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE), with panelists Dan Farrington, director of ePowertrain at Navistar; Nathan House, electric vehicle integration engineer at Altec Industries Inc.; and Dan Silbernagel, medium duty & vocational segment strategy manager at Daimler Truck North America — focused on important considerations and challenges of integrating body power needs into the chassis powertrain rechargeable batteries.

Trends Impacting the North American Commercial Vehicle Population
Representatives from industry-leading data organizations — Charles Bowles, director of OEM and strategic initiatives at Trader Interactive; Andrej Divis, executive director – global heavy truck research at S&P Global Mobility; and Mark Hazel, associate director – commercial vehicle reporting at S&P Global Mobility — joined moderator Kevin Koester, NTEA managing director, to examine current and anticipated trends within the registered commercial vehicle population. This session provided an analysis of work truck markets by weight class, vehicle type, fuel type, and regional trends, along with a deep dive into the cargo van segment. Participants gained insight into how to adjust their market and production plans.

Upcoming U.S. Department of Energy Initiatives Affecting the Commercial Vehicle Industry
U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy representatives — Michael Laughlin, technology manager, Technology Integration Program and Mark Smith, technology integration program manager, Vehicle Technologies Office — shared updates on their latest research and development initiatives impacting the commercial vehicle industry. Attendees learned about potential opportunities for the industry to help support upcoming projects and programs.

Work Truck Industry Economic Overview and Market Forecast
This session provided economic and market information to help optimize business planning processes. With expert analysis from Steve Latin-Kasper, NTEA senior director of market data and research and Andrej Divis, S&P Global Mobility, executive director of global heavy truck research, attendees learned more about commercial vehicle industry market trends and how they’re affected by U.S. and global economic cycles. This session included a North American chassis sales forecast — a critical component of market planning.

OEM update sessions
The following leading chassis manufacturers presented sessions on new products, technical changes and design improvements.

  • Chevrolet Commercial Vehicles
  • Daimler Truck North America
  • Ford Pro
  • Freightliner Custom Chassis
  • Hino Trucks
  • International Truck
  • Isuzu Commercial Truck of America
  • Kenworth Truck Company
  • Mack Trucks
  • Mercedes-Benz USA
  • Peterbilt Motors Company
  • Ram Commercial

EV update sessions
New this year were exclusive session from five electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers.

  • Lion Electric
  • Lordstown Motors
  • Mullen Automotive
  • VIA Motors
  • Xos Inc.

Visit worktruckweek.com for more recap details.