Arkansas Trucking Association

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The Last Word

Mr. Morris Goes to Washington

By Mark Morris

In April, I joined Arkansas Trucking Association President Shannon Newton and other trucking executives for my first Call on Washington. Over two days, we walked miles back and forth over Capitol Hill for meetings with our delegation to talk trucking. After more than two years of virtual this and webinar that, I welcomed the opportunity to come face-to-face with my elected officials in the nation’s capital.

I was elected to be chairman of the Arkansas Trucking Association Board of Directors August 2020 at the annual conference that had been delayed three months because of the pandemic. At that time, board members were taking conference calls with state and federal leadership to get updates on the virus situation and share what challenges we were facing to keep the supply chain moving. Since then, my whole tenure as chair has been in the middle of the pandemic; the vaccine rollout; the inflating economy; and the shortage of workers, toilet paper and microchips. The COVID chair, that’s who I’ve had to be.

Even after decades as a member of ATA and 19 years serving on the board, I’d never thought about attending Call on Washington before. Politics hasn’t been high on my radar, but as chair, it seemed like a chance to see up-close how the machine works. Unsurprisingly, just like trucking, the machine is more than cogs and wheels. It’s people.

You’ve heard politicians and TV commentators repeat that D.C. is a swamp that needs to be drained, and maybe you’ve agreed (maybe I have nodded along, too). But being there, I was just in awe of the place. I’d only visited the city one other time, and I’d never taken the underground tunnels or been invited to meet with my representative in his D.C. office, shake his hand and answer his questions about my experience with truck parking and fuel prices.

We prepared to talk about making sure money from the infrastructure bill goes to work in our state and on our routes, the driver shortage and policy steps that can offer relief, and nuclear verdicts. I have personally seen the truck parking shortage worsen, and roadside parking become a problem in Arkansas. The representatives, senators and their staff took notes as we talked, scribbling down questions and anecdotes, and asked us “What do you need done?”

After six meetings, I walked away impressed that some of our members of Congress were so engaged and educated on trucking issues. More than that, I was impressed by the reputation of Arkansas Trucking Association when we walked into rooms. I was proud to have played a part in this relationship we have with leadership that they would listen to our concerns and understand the role we play in the economy.

Every year I spend invested in this organization; I learn what the power of association means. To me, the phrase means that every person has a part that matters. Maybe that’s financially supporting the association mission, engaging with politics and forming relationships with your delegates, volunteering to pass out burgers at the truck stop on Truck Driver Appreciation Day. There’s a role for every one of us.

Following in the footsteps of the leaders I looked up to like the commitment of Pat Reed, the quiet wisdom of Wayne Smith and the dedication of Craig Harper has been a privilege. I’m thankful to Butch Rice who challenged me to get more involved and step up to chairman’s seat. They set an example for me to find new ways to get involved as a leader. It has been an honor and privilege to have served as chairman of the Arkansas Trucking Association Board of Directors. Despite the challenges of navigating the pandemic and all of the complications that have rippled throughout the industry and society, learning from and leading the board has been the most enjoyable of all my time serving ATA.

Alongside the previous leaders and mentors, I am so thankful for the ATA staff for answering my questions, connecting me with resources and meeting chaos or confusion with organization.

I’ve had to deepen my relationships with other board members, the staff and especially Shannon, and those relationships have undoubtedly made my career and life more satisfying. It is fortunate that we are more successful together, but it is a real blessing to get to know the people in this association better.

I hope I have brought value, challenged others to discover new ways to engage and encouraged someone to connect with the power in our association.

Mark Morris is the outgoing chair of the Arkansas Trucking Association Board of Directors and the president of Morris Transportation Services in Hamburg, Ark.

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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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