NATM Celebrates 30 Years of Advocacy,
Education and Growth
Five trailer manufacturers established the National Association of Livestock Trailer Manufacturers (NALTM) in Chickasha, Okla. Bill Bernhardt, President of Sooner Trailer, was elected as the first President of this new association. The group originally came together in an effort to get better rates for product liability insurance. Those in attendance decided to establish an association, and selected Professional Association Management (PAM) of Oklahoma City to manage the Association for 70 percent of its total income.
The first Annual Membership Meeting was held in Kansas City, Mo. with 25 members in attendance. The initial nine-member Board of Directors was elected and dues were set at $400 for Regular Members (trailer manufacturers) and $500 for Associate Members (suppliers).
Management of the Association was moved to Association & Society Management, Inc., Austin, Texas for 40 percent of annual income plus office expenses.
The Association was incorporated in Texas as the National Association of Livestock Trailer Manufacturers (NALTM). The first NATM “Mark of Excellence” Decals were sold to members for one dollar per decal (below). The purpose of the decal was to promote pride in membership and to raise revenue for the Association.
Work started on manufacturing guidelines for livestock trailer manufacturers – initially published as The Guidelines for Recommended Minimum Manufacturing Practices for Trailers Under 26,000 lbs. GVWR.
Revised Articles of Incorporation were filed in Texas changing the name of the Association to the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM). The Board of Directors determined that the issues they were facing were not specific to livestock trailer manufacturers and that the industry would be better served if all light- and medium-duty trailer manufacturers were unified in one association.
Membership grew to 81 members and the annual meeting was held in Dallas, Texas.
Membership reported at 117 with an annual budget of $85,800. Convention revenue was 30 percent of the anticipated annual revenue. Dues were $400 for both Regular and Associate members.
Membership reported at 125 members. The convention was held in New Orleans, La. and discussion topics included compliance issues, business liabilities and the fluctuation in the steel and aluminum markets.
Reports for the year noted improvements in The Guidelines and Tracks, and completion of a trailer industry survey.
Accomplishments for this year were reported as addition of Dick Klein’s Engineers Corner for each issue of Tracks.
NATM headquarters was moved to Topeka, Kan. under the management of Association Services Corporation. A dedicated Executive Director, Pam Trusdale, was hired to manage the NATM account.
The NATM Bylaws were rewritten and adopted by the Board of Directors. The Awards Program was established and the first Outstanding Member Award was presented to founding member and first President, Bill Bernhardt.
Members volunteered for third party inspections by T.R. Arnold to pave the way for establishing a compliance program. Membership exceeded 300.
The first NATM Compliance Director, Greg Soden, was hired to conduct consultations free of charge to member volunteers. The serialized compliance decal was adopted and sold to members that successfully completed the compliance verification process for 75 cents each. Decal sales were used to underwrite the cost of the program.
NATM withdrew from the management company to become a self-managed association with four employees, three of which have been with NATM until this year. The Association also developed ANSI tested warning labels for use by trailer manufacturers and revamped The Guidelines to make it a more user-friendly resource for members.
The Bylaws were revised to recognize the compliance program.
The first issue of Tracks magazine was published in December 2004. Total revenue for the Association exceeded $1.0 million, with decal sales exceeding 300,000.
The first facilitated strategic planning session was held to review the mission and vision of the Association and to establish a strategic plan to outline the key objectives of the Association moving forward. Attendance at the Annual Convention & Trade Show in Orlando exceeded 1,000. Membership exceeded 700.
NATM staff grew to eight and the Board of Directors decided to purchase a building to house NATM Headquarters. Cash reserves had grown and the Board of Directors approved the cash purchase of the headquarters building at 1320 Topeka Blvd. in the Topeka, Kan. A second compliance consultant was hired to assist with the growing number of compliance consultations.
NATM first began to advocate allowing for the tandem towing of unladen trailers. Board members met with Featherlite legal counsel and four Congressional staff members to discuss a uniform law to allow tandem delivery of trailers in all 50 states. NATM began negotiations with the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) to allow NATM compliance consultants to conduct NMMA certification inspections for boat trailer manufacturers.
Dick Klein retired as NATM’s Consulting Engineer. NATM hired a full-time Technical Director to oversee the technical program and assist with member’s technical questions. A strategic planning session was held to review the progress on the 2005 Strategic Plan and make revisions as necessary for future goals and objectives. A proactive government affairs program was established and K&L Gates was engaged to represent NATM.
A governance plan was created to establish policies and ensure continuity with an ever-changing volunteer leadership.
NATM developed generic owner’s manuals so that all NATM members could afford to provide a manual with their trailers. The Association worked to defeat proposed legislation that would have cost trailer manufacturers over $9 million dollars in taxes annually. NATM Political Action Committee (NATM PAC) was established.
The membership unanimously approved a Bylaws amendment making participation in the Compliance Verification Program (CVP) a requirement of membership for all trailer manufacturers beginning
Jan. 1, 2012.
Jan. 1, 2012.
Implementation of mandatory participation in the Compliance Verification Program took place, and the Association worked with RVIA and NMMA to revise an FMVSS 110 requirement that was threatening to halt the export of trailers to Canada.
Due to a growing staff size, NATM headquarters moved to its current location at 2420 SW 17th Street in Topeka, Kan. NATM took over the leadership role in planning the Trailer Regulatory Roundup and Capitol Hill Visits in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the Boat Trailer Manufacturers Association (BTMA), an annual event. NATM exceeded the five million mark in compliance decal sales since the inception of the program in 2002, and added a QR code to its compliance decals.
NATM worked with a coalition to successfully exclude Specialty Trailer (ST) tires from a Department of Commerce Anti-dumping and Countervailing Investigation of imports of certain passenger vehicle and light-truck tires from China, saving trailer manufacturers millions of dollars in potential tariffs. NATM created safety videos and introduced a mobile app for the Convention & Trade Show.
NATM was awarded its certification of accreditation for ISO 17020:2012 by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB). After seven years of advocating on behalf of doubles towaway legislation, language was included in The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act that was adopted by Congress. The FAST Act language allowed tandem delivery of trailers with a total length of up to 82’ on all federal highways. A strategic planning session was held and the NATM mission and vision statements were revised. The 2016-2018 Strategic Plan was developed.
NATM began to implement the new strategic plan including hosting the first Regional Educational workshop in Elkhart, Ind., with over 80 members in attendance. In order to meet the needs of the growing membership, NATM hired an additional compliance consultant and a membership director focused solely on membership. The Safely Towing a Trailer booklet was published to enhance consumer awareness and promote trailer safety.
The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers now stands at 888 members with an annual budget of $2,000,000. The 2017 Convention & Trade Show had record attendance and sponsorships, and Tracks magazine has its largest circulation of subscribers and advertisers.
Over the last thirty years, NATM has seen both growth, and due to the economic downturn, contraction. But, the staff has grown and is the strongest staff-to-date, participation in the Annual Convention & Trade Show is increasing, and numerous programs have been added over the years. With a robust Strategic Plan in place, a visionary board of directors, dedicated committee volunteers, loyal members and an enthusiastic staff, the Association is poised to continue to grow and thrive over the next 30 years.