In the past year, NATM has implemented several changes to the Compliance Verification Program (CVP) due to the Association’s continual effort to improve, while also protecting the health and safety of members and staff in the wake of COVID-19. These changes, combined with the vast diversity in our membership in types of trailers produced and geography, make it an interesting career as we assist members with their compliance requirements across the country. NATM currently has two compliance consultants on staff who regularly conduct compliance consultations, and as Technical Director, I complete a small number of consultations each year.
Pre-COVID-19, the average week looked much different for consultants than it does today. They would fly to a region and
conduct the entire consultation process onsite. This process would typically take around three days and would include anywhere from a handful to a dozen consultations. At present, due to safety precautions, consultants avoid air travel whenever possible to minimize possible exposure to the virus. Further, NATM has separated consultations into two parts, the onsite trailer inspection and the remote documentation/informational portion rather than conducting the entire consultation onsite to reduce possible exposure to virus both for our members and consultants. This means the amount of time onsite has also been minimized, and thus more consultations can be conducted within the same time frame.
The concentration of members varies wildly across the United States. Certain parts have a cluster of members such as Elkhart, Ind. or northeast Texas while other parts of the country have very few member facilities like areas in Nevada or Wyoming. In early March, I travelled to Elkhart and I was able to conduct 21 trailer inspections within two and half days. On the other hand, I have also travelled thousands of miles in many more days only to be able to conduct a fraction of the inspections completed in Elkhart.
When determining the length of consultations, the type of trailer involved is yet another factor. Inspecting a utility trailer that is 79 inches wide and has a GVWR of 2,990 lbs. can be fully inspected in less than a few minutes, while a horse trailer or car hauler with a GVWR over 10,000 lbs. will take significantly more time. This drastic change in inspection time is due to the number of relevant items on the CVP checklist that need to be accounted for, such as clearance lamps. The small utility trailer will not require them but the horse trailer will. Conspicuity treatment (DOT tape) is another example; a car hauler is required to have the tape while the small utility trailer is not. If the consultant is inspecting a boat trailer, the hand winch must also be inspected. Each of these checklist items will add to a compliance consultation’s length.
Additionally, new members and re-certifying members usually have differing consultation lengths. Re-certifying members’
consultations typically flow smoother and conclude quicker than new member consultations. This difference in length is expected. A new member will usually have more questions or need more clarification as they have not been through the process. The plethora of regulations governing trailer construction are complicated, so it is unusual for a new member to have all of their trailers align with regulations the first time around. In addition, just over half of recertifying members pass their consultation outright; though, these members are generally familiar enough with the regulations that explanations do not take as long.
I can’t speak for the other two compliance consultants, Scott Crimmins and Sean Sloan, but I am a talker—guilty as charged. If a member is unable to accompany me during the trailer inspection, I can move quickly through the process, but if I’m conducting a consultation where the member is present and that member is also a talker, I could be on-site for considerably longer. Favorite college football teams (Kansas State), my or the member’s children (I have three boys and always have a story), outdoor vacation spots (Glacier National Park or Yosemite), and many more topics have been discussed during consultations.
More serious topics of conversations include the workforce shortage or component availability. These discussions help me
better understand that particular member and the trailer industry as a whole. If I receive the same questions or concerns over and over again or notice other trends from consultations, then I know our members would benefit from further education on said topics. These topics often result in webinars, forums, Tracks articles, or any other form of communication we think would best disseminate the information.
Although the structure of the day is pretty straight forward, the times can vary wildly. While many manufacturing operations begin well before 8:00 a.m., some do not. With this in mind, we typically start our day with the first consultation at 8:00 a.m., followed by as many consultations as we can fit within the day while still allowing ample time for the consultations themselves, driving between member locations, and time for lunch. With many operations starting before 8:00 a.m., often times offices will close before 5:00 p.m. which limits how late into the day we can conduct consultations. Usually, consultations begin no later than 3:30 p.m. Deceivingly, this sounds like an early day, but I usually eat lunch in my car driving between member facilities, and at the end of the day, I can either be five minutes from the hotel or five hours. I’ve gotten to the hotel as early as 2:00 p.m. or as late as 2:00 a.m. The rare early days are much preferred as they allow me to input reports, answer member questions, and catch up on email, rather than an overloaded workday once I return.
Speaking of hotels, we all have our favorite companies to use while traveling. The NATM Board is fantastic in allowing
consultants to plan and schedule their own travel as long as it is cost conscious. While each consultant differs, my favorites
include Southwest Airlines, Hertz or Dollar Rentals, and Holiday Inn Express. When it comes to food, I’m famous around the office for eating McDonalds or pizza multiple times a day and certainly multiple times per trip! For example, I had pizza five times in three days on my recent trip to Elkhart, Ind. Food options have been limited as we attempt to avoid any unnecessary potential exposure to COVID-19; we often use drive-thru or delivery options.
Having great conversations and seeing this wonderful country is fun and exciting, but our purpose is to support our members. This is the driving force behind all of our processes and recent changes, and why we gladly accept repetitive, subpar food or time away from our families. We are constantly putting effort into molding our program, travel-related and not, to reach the Association’s goal of an extremely high level of member support.
For more information or questions on NATM’s Compliance Verification Program, contact NATM Technical Director Terry Jones at Terry.Jones@natm.com
The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) is gearing up for the fourth annual national Trailer Safety Week to be held June 6-12, 2021! With this traffic safety campaign, the Association hopes to improve the safety of the nation’s roadways by raising trailer safety awareness through education of trailer end-users, dealers and manufacturers. The goal is to close the communication gap between trailer manufacturers and end-users to make towing safer. This weeklong celebration is the perfect opportunity to share some safe trailering tips with your community.
The truth is most end-users are vastly undereducated on the proper use of trailers, and with millions of trailers traversing the nation’s roadways every day, safe trailering practices are life-saving. We recognize we wouldn’t buy a car without key safety features, such as seatbelts, but purchasing a trailer with missing safety components can be just as dangerous. It is crucial that trailers are being towed safely for the sake of everyone on the roads.
NATM makes it easy to learn about safe trailering practices. From driving tips to trailer maintenance and components, the Trailer Safety Week website provides need-to-know information regarding trailer safety in an easy-to-understand format. Visit www.TrailerSafetyWeek.com to access these materials and more! The website houses the Safely Towing Brochure which contains important information on hitching, cargo securement, tires, driving tips and the importance of purchasing NATM compliant trailers. It is free, easily accessible and mobile friendly.
We encourage you to join the hundreds of companies, associations and end-users already celebrating Trailer Safety Week! If you are part of an organization that would like to further support Trailer Safety Week, visit www.TrailerSafetyWeek.com/interest to sign up as a Trailer Safety Ally. As an Ally, you will receive a pre-crafted marketing kit to promote your involvement in TSW and share safe trailering practices.
Don’t delay, join this trailer safety movement taking the nation by storm today.
Questions? Contact the Trailer Safety Week team at TrailerSafetyWeek@natm.com.
NATM is inviting trailer dealers to the 2022 NATM Convention & Trade Show in Tampa, Fla. Feb. 1-3, 2022!
NATM has been committed to trailer safety for more than 30 years. While NATM has long worked with trailer manufacturers, industry suppliers, and service providers, trailer safety can only be improved through dealer interaction and consumer education. Expanding the Association’s base to include Dealer Affiliates and now allowing dealers to attend the Annual Convention & Trade Show is the logical next step to advancing the mission of NATM.
The NATM Convention & Trade Show is the annual trade show for the light- and medium-duty trailer industry. With more than 1,000 trailer manufacturer and supplier attendees per year and growing, this “must attend” event provides education, networking, and communication for those in the industry. The 2020 sold out trade show boasted over 200 exhibiting companies, with 37 new exhibitors, which gave attendees a variety of products and services to view. The show also included attendees from over 100 trailer manufacturers companies from across North America.
Dealer attendees will have the opportunity to participate in all workshops and technical forums. The Association’s purpose is to open up lines of communication, increase trailer safety awareness, and provide dealers with the education and information they have long requested from NATM. NATM has worked diligently with committees, trailer manufacturers, industry suppliers, and dealers to create a path of inclusion for dealers.
NATM will be offering a “New Dealer Promotion” to help offset costs for dealers attending the show. NATM Dealer Affiliates are eligible for two complimentary registrations and two free hotel room nights while available! NATM will provide more information to all Dealer Affiliates via email in September.
Online registration will open this fall. NATM looks forward to seeing you in Tampa! For more information about the Convention & Trade Show or the NATM Dealer Affiliate program, contact NATM Assistant Director Meghan Ryan at
Meghan.Ryan@natm.com or (785) 272-4433.
NATM is looking forward to hosting its 2022 Convention & Trade Show for the first time at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Fla. Feb. 1-3, 2022. Florida continues to be a popular location for NATM’s Convention & Trade Show as it boasts sunny weather, great sites for dinners with customers, golf outings, shopping, and family-friendly vacation activities.
The Tampa Convention Center is located along the Riverwalk in the heart of downtown and will serve as the site of educational workshops, networking events, and the trade show. Attendees of the show can access the NATM special room block rates at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Tampa Downtown Convention Center and the Marriott Tampa Waterside. More information will be provided via email. To sign up for the Convention & Trade Show emails, visit www.NATM.com/convention.
As always, the NATM Convention & Trade Show would not be possible without the support of its generous sponsors. There are sponsorship opportunities available from $250 to $50,000 to fit any budget. Being a sponsor allows you to select your booth before previous exhibitors and the general membership, as well as provides a wide range of exposure, both electronically on NATM’s website and mobile app and in print on the convention program map and branded events. This creates name recognition which helps drive customers to your booth. Re-enter in-person events with a bang, and sponsor today! Watch your email for sponsorship information coming in May.
New Attendee Promotion
Are you a new member trailer manufacturer? Are you a trailer manufacturer whose company has not attended in the last five years? Are you a dealer affiliate? You may qualify for NATM’s New Attendee Promotion!
The New Attendee Promotion includes two complimentary full registrations and up to two complimentary hotel room nights at the host hotel for the convention. Those interested in participating should contact NATM Assistant Director Meghan Ryan soon—complimentary hotel rooms are on a first come, first served basis and will go fast.
To apply for the New Attendee Promo, click here.
Stay tuned for the show additions and for more information about NATM’s 2022 Convention & Trade Show. Questions about the show sponsorship opportunities or exhibit space? Contact Meghan Ryan at Meghan.Ryan@natm.com or call (785) 272-4433.
Booth Selection Process for the 2022 Show
Booth Selection will open exclusively to select 2020 sponsors on June 1 lasting through June 29. Those companies that chose to roll their booth over from the cancelled 2021 show will be able to select a new booth on July 6. The general membership will be allowed to choose booth space beginning Aug. 4, and non-members can select booths starting Aug. 18.
Exhibitors that chose to roll their 2021 booth over to 2022 will keep their discounted price and automatically have their funds applied directly to their 2022 booth. Unless rolling over 2021 booths to 2022, the cost is $1,457 per 10 ft. x 10 ft. booth. Booth space for non-member companies is $2,914.
On the day your booth-selection window opens, you will receive an email from NATM notifying you that the booth sales application is now available online for your company. This email includes a unique booking code that, when entered, pre-populates the online booth sales application. Within the application, exhibitors can view the 2022 show floorplan and select their desired booth(s) in real time.
During the completion of the online application, exhibitors pay for their booth(s) online via credit card. Once NATM show management approves the application, an email containing login credentials to the exhibitor dashboard is sent. The dashboard allows exhibitors to update their company profile and contact information and view other important information relevant to the upcoming show.
As always, sign up at any time after your group’s window begins. If you miss the window for your group you can still purchase a booth, but the privilege of choosing your booth space before it opens up to new groups is lost. Be sure to mark your calendar to sign up as soon as you receive your email from NATM!
2022 Booth Selection Timeline:
The opportunity to select exhibitor space at the 2022 trade show has been made available to suppliers and service providers in the following phases:
Phase 1: 2020 sponsors will choose their booths first in the order of their sponsorship levels during the following dates:
Phase 2: Companies that chose to roll their 2021 booth funds over to 2022 will select their booths beginning July 6, 2021.
Phase 3: The general membership will be allowed to choose booth space beginning Aug. 4, 2021.
Phase 4: Non-members will be allowed to select booths beginning Aug. 18, 2021.
If you have any questions regarding how to book your exhibit space or if you would like to be a sponsor at the 2022 Convention & Trade Show, contact NATM Assistant Director Meghan Ryan at Meghan.Ryan@natm.com or call (785) 272-4433.