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Gary Petty
Private Fleet Editor,
    Fleet Owner Magazine
President & CEO, NPTC

February 2019

Best in Show

NPTC’s exhibition presents model of networking success

The annual conference and exhibition trade show of NPTC has come a long way in almost 20 years. In 2002 at the Austin, TX, convention center, this event drew 668 total attendees of Fleet and Allied Member companies and 83 exhibitors. Just one truck from a nearby OEM manufacturing plant was on display at the trade show floor.

By comparison almost two decades later, the NPTC 2018 annual conference this past April in Cincinnati attracted 1,225 total attendees and 164 exhibitors with multiple types of trucks, trailers, and other equipment on display. In the past several years, total attendee registration counts have increased 38%, the size of the Exhibit Trade Show floor space has grown 30%, and increases in the exhibitor count have gone up by more than 30%.

Attendance since 2012 by the number of fleet companies has increased from 112 to 152 (2018 was the highest number on record)—a growth of more than 25%—and the total number of fleet company representatives increased from 306 to 372, the latter also an all-time high. The Exhibition and Trade Show for the 2018 conference is the third-largest association-sponsored event of exhibitors in the trucking industry.

Exhibitors typically display a wide range of equipment, technologies, specialized expert advisory consultancies, and various management or training support services. These include onboard hardware and software systems, some uniquely tailored to private fleets, which as a major sector of industry represent roughly half of the overall trucking market.

Based on annual revenue, private fleets are 47% of this market. Seventy-five percent of trucks in Classes 4-8, or three out of four, are operated by private fleets; 66% of Class 8 trucks on the road are operated by private fleets; and 50% of new Class 8 trucks are sold or leased to private fleets.

NPTC participating fleet companies are, however, in a class by themselves. Fleet companies attending NPTC’s conference and exhibition represent the very top and, by almost every world-class measurement of performance, the most elite fractional 1% of private fleets in the U.S. based on total vehicle counts of trucks and trailers, all operating from multiple locations regionally or nationally.

At the NPTC 2018 event, the size of participating fleet companies averaged about 385 drivers, 303 tractors, 293 straight trucks, and 974 trailers. Over the past seven years, about 300 fleet companies from all business sectors, industries, and markets have participated, usually several times with multiple representatives, in NPTC’s annual conference and exhibition. These fleets are leading the industry in the use of safety technologies. Forty-one percent use in-cab cameras to monitor and coach driver performance, a substantial increase from about 6% of usage in 2014. Trade cycles for the Class 8 trucks of these fleets average about 6.4 years.

Optimizing exhibitor value on the trade show floor at the exhibit booth includes meet and greet opportunities with customers and prospects. Exhibitor representatives also gain significant advantage by sitting in on the 32 conference workshops and breakfast roundtable “best practices” discussions, engaging customers at scheduled social reception dinner events and coffee breaks, business networking on the exhibit hall floor with other exhibitors and partners, and sponsoring an evening out with customers (NPTC has specifically left Monday evening “free” for this purpose).

One or more staff members of many exhibitors are recognized as a new Certified Transportation Professional at the conference’s annual CTP graduation ceremony, which averages 75 graduates annually. Over the past seven years, the number of active CTPs has grown from 378 to 643, a 41% increase. A majority are from fleet companies, but about one-third are from allied/supplier companies that often exhibit at the annual conference. Many have also attended the Private Fleet Management Institute held in Jacksonville each January.

This comprehensive engagement of the event is the meaning behind NPTC’s “You Must Be Present To Win” slogan for the annual conference and exhibition. It helps justify consistently being rated by supplier/vendor exhibitors year after year as an exceptional return-on-investment “best in show” of the trucking industry.

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