If you got it, a truck brought it. It seems like a simple concept, but the fact is, Alaska--and the nation--would come to a standstill without the trucking industry. From everyday household items to complex machine parts, truck drivers keep the world running.
No one knows this better than the associations that represent trucking companies, including the Alaska Trucking Association (ATA). Established in 1958 to foster and promote the interests of state's trucking industry, the organization has more than 200 members ranging from single operators to multinational corporations.
In addition to working with local, state, and federal government and regulatory agencies to keep them abreast of issues facing the trucking industry, the ATA focuses on driver safety, provides DMV services, and offers ongoing education and networking opportunities to its members.
"Road safety is one of the major items that we push for; our guys and gals are on the road at all hours of the day and night, so we focus on issues like the plowing and maintenance of roads," says ATA Executive Director Joe Michel. "Our safety record in Alaska is better than that of almost any other state, despite the fact that we drive on ice and through terrible weather. It's an impressive statistic, and it's the result of our members' commitment to safety."
ATA is also at the forefront of dealing with issues that affect the industry's future, including an impending driver shortage. According to Joey Crum, CEO of Northern Industrial Training and past president of the ATA board of directors, the ATA has an important message to share, especially for the younger generation.
"There are a lot of stories, stereotypes, and misconceptions about what truck driving is and the industry that it represents, but those who come up in it know that it provides an amazing quality of life; it's a good occupation with a lot of career opportunities," says Crum, whose father was also a truck driver and member of ATA.
"It's more than just a career for men--I want my daughters to feel it is a viable option," he continues, adding that truck driving is often a legacy career. "Regardless of a person's skill level or education, trucking provides a good place to start and gain both."
Representing the Industry and the State
While there are a number of associations that represent the interests of truck drivers, the fact that the ATA focuses on the 49th State sets it apart.
"There is a uniqueness to driving in Alaska versus...