Bob Wollenman, NATSO’s 2019 chairman of the board and the owner of Deluxe Truck Stop in St. Joseph, Missouri, welcomed truckstop and travel plaza operators and industry suppliers to NATSO Connect in Orlando.
Wollenman said he has been involved in NATSO for nearly 20 years and underscored the importance of NATSO's Great Ideas for Independent Operators workshop. "We have seen first-hand the value of coming to the meetings, sitting down with our colleagues from across the country and sharing our best practices. Meeting peers and talking about common opportunities and challenges was key to our returning each year,” he said.
NATSO members have access not only to each other but also to a select network of industry suppliers and vendors who are here to support us, Wollenman said. “They can provide products as well as the knowledge and insights that help us improve our operations, he said.
Wollenman has learned that being involved in the various committees that NATSO has is critical to its members' successes, and he said he is particularly fond of the government affairs committee. “Government affairs involvement is essential to each of us. Communicating to our respective Senators and Representatives the industries needs is critical,” he said.
Wollenman told attendees that NATSO members are being presented with challenges and new opportunities with ever-changing dynamics of the industry. “Long-haul operators who were once the mainstay of the industry are now being replaced by regional and local drivers. We see more and more women taking jobs as drivers. Diversity of ethnicity continues to grow,” he said.
During his speech, Wollenman encouraged operators to find their niche, noting that everyone has a niche of some kind.
What’s more, autonomous vehicles and platooning are on the horizon and electrification continues to make strides as technology escalates. “What will the industry look like in the next five years? Your membership and participation in NATSO will help keep you abreast of the ongoing changes,” Wollenman said.
Photo credit: Lisa Webb/NATSO
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