Arkansas Trucking Association

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Up Front- My People

DSCF7709 smallShannon Newton
President, ATA

Every September, we host a lunch at a local truck stop during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. It’s not particularly fancy, but it does take a lot of volunteers, donations and ketchup packets to pull off. We welcome as many truck drivers as are able to take their lunch breaks with us as they are travelling I-40.

Serving burgers and hot dogs is not an integral part of my job. But I look forward to it every time the opportunity comes around, because I love spending time with the people in this industry.

A few weeks ago, I was in Malvern, Ark. at JM Bozeman Enterprises. Rep. Bruce Westerman had accepted our invitation to meet constituents and learn more about the trucking industry in his district. We walked through the dispatch “war room,” met the all-female safety team and toured the technicians’ shop before Rep. Westerman agreed to ride along with one of the senior drivers. They shook hands, took pictures, and told stories with the Congressman while showing him their lives.

These are my people. They give me a reason to advocate, educate, make calls, write letters, to brainstorm, to look for solutions, to wake up early, stay up late and, sometimes, even flip burgers.

What is integral to my job is preaching the essentiality of our industry, the fundamental need for truck drivers and technicians. But the people in trucking offer more than just necessary labor for our economy; they offer kindness, laughs, hospitality and friendship. The things in trailers make our first-world lifestyle possible, but the people who do the work make our lives worthwhile.

The people of trucking aren’t a conglomerate. They are 3.5 million drivers and 280,000 technicians – plus another 5.2 million in a variety of roles – each with rich experiences, the best days and worst days of their lives that have shaped them.

People may think they know our industry based on a stereotype. But they don’t know all our favorite songs, where we vacation, what our politics are, what we read and watch, or why we truck up and down the roads. I’ve learned that people come to the highway for all kinds of reasons and have unique, interesting stories to tell if you listen. When I spend time with the people in this industry, I do my best to keep my eyes and ears open.

The people of trucking are down-to-earth, funny, grateful, earnest, and to go on would be to make generalizations because they are all different. And their differences make them interesting and human and worth working for.

Truck Driver Appreciation Week is the annual celebration of the men and women who carry our industry on their backs, but if you wait for one event in September to hang out with drivers, you’re missing out.

Contact Us

Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Suite 185
Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 372-3462 | Phone
(501) 376-1810 | Fax

Our Mission

  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
  • PROMOTE the dynamics of trucking so that people have a better understanding of the link between America's primary freight delivery system and the standard of living they enjoy.
  • SERVE our members to help them to grow their business and their profits
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