January 26, 2014
Calling the dealership franchise system “the envy of the world,” Dick Witcher – outgoing chairman of the American Truck Dealers (ATD) – urged dealers to meet with their Congressional representatives as “the first step in combating regulatory burdens,” and that the work of securing the future of dealerships begins with each of them.
In his remarks Saturday at the ATD Convention & Expo in New Orleans, Witcher said ATD has worked extensively with elected officials to communicate industry challenges and identify solutions.
“And in a time of a divisive Congress — and when regulators are eager to pass on new rules and regulations — we are called to protect your interests more than ever,” he said.
Witcher suggested inviting Congressional delegations to visit dealerships and meet with employees, “so they know who we are and what we do. Our legislators need to understand what we need. It’s key in helping them to understand our business and use us as a resource before they make regulations that hurt our industry.”
Witcher, who is chief executive officer of Minuteman Trucks in Walpole, Mass., also warned dealers that the industry faces “serious regulatory overreach” that will ultimately make the job of dealers more difficult.
He cited stricter federal emissions standards and fuel economy standards as regulations that are making the jobs of truck dealers more difficult.
“We need to make sure that new fuel economy standards for trucks are not only good for the environment, but fair — and affordable — for the people who make them, sell them and drive them,” he said.
Witcher added ATD has put its support behind H. Con Res. 52, a bipartisan bill sponsored by Congressmen Reid Ribble and Tim Walz, which keeps the federal excise tax rate at 12 percent, and the organization has formally balked at any rate increase.
“We have said ‘no’ to a rise in the federal excise tax for heavy-duty trucks,” he said. “The 12 percent levy is already the highest excise tax imposed by Congress on a percentage basis. Increasing this tax could further hurt our industry and stall new truck sales.”
Witcher also called on the new generation of dealers across the country to take ownership in the issues facing the industry and become part of the team seeking solutions.
“There are lots of voices in Washington and around the country speaking out to hurt us,” he said. “The current and next generations need to work outside of the everyday tasks of operating our businesses. The same few people can’t continue to do the work.”
Witcher closed his remarks emphasizing the impact truck sales and service has on the nation’s supply chain.
“Nearly 70 percent of all the freight tonnage moved in the U.S. goes on trucks. And 100 percent of the new truck sales and service is our responsibility,” he said.