Shelley Simpson, president of Lowell-based J.B. Hunt Transport Services, and Gov. Sarah Sanders will be featured speakers at the annual Arkansas Trucking Association Conference & Vendor Showcase next week in Little Rock. Chris Spear, president and CEO of American Trucking Associations, will also speak at the three-day event.
More than 300 trucking industry leaders are expected to attend the event from Monday through Wednesday (May 15-17) at the Statehouse Convention Center. Speakers will address economics, leadership, politics, workforce equity, nuclear verdicts and the state’s role in the global supply chain.
On Tuesday, Simpson, who was named president of J.B. Hunt in 2022, will speak about the role Arkansas plays in the supply chain and the future of trucking. Bryan Day, executive director of the Port of Little Rock, will highlight the expansion of business in central Arkansas and how trucking is helping to drive the growth. Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Bentonville think tank Heartland Forward, will provide strategies for promoting regional innovation to enable job creation and economic growth.
On Wednesday, Spear will speak about leading the trade group, electric fleets, emission standards and workforce issues. Sanders will be the featured speaker at the awards luncheon when the ATA recognizes the state’s top driver and maintenance and safety professionals. ATA will also present the fleet safety awards.
“The transportation industry is an economic force in our state, employing one in 10 Arkansans, serving as headquarters to some of the largest carriers in the nation and home to nearly 10,000 trucking companies,” said ATA Chairman Jeff Loggins. “The people and businesses we recognize at our awards luncheon embody safety and professionalism, and through their example, they are helping ensure the future success of their companies and our industry.”
Other speakers include author and entrepreneur Gina Radke, who will discuss the importance of recruiting women into the workforce, and attorney Doug Marcello, who will explain how to avoid nuclear verdicts. The verdicts comprise the large judgments that trucking companies have faced, and the awards against them continue to rise. According to the American Transportation Research Institute, verdict award sizes rose by 51.7% annually from 2010 to 2018. Over the same period, the annual increase in healthcare costs and inflation was 2.9% and 1.7%, respectively.
“For nearly a century, the Arkansas Trucking Association has been supporting the transportation industry at both the state and national levels,” said ATA President Shannon Newton. “Each year this conference provides an opportunity for executives, innovators and the next generation of trucking leaders to share valuable information. Together we look back on the milestones we have reached and look forward to being the heart and soul of what drives Arkansas – and America – forward for many more years to come.”
On Monday, the ATA Board of Directors will meet by invitation only. Historically during the annual conference, the board has elected a chairman and its members. Loggins, president of Jonesboro-based Loggins Logistics, was named chairman at the 2022 conference.
According to the ATA website, public registration for the 2023 conference is closed. Since 1932, ATA has served as the voice of the trucking industry. It comprises about 340 trucking and service companies.