It is understandable why truck men tend to de-mand separate treatment in auto organizations," declared an editorial in the Feb. 9, 1970, issue of Automotive News.
NADA had recently begun efforts to set up a separate organization for truck dealers.
The next month in Las Vegas, the American Truck Dealers div-ision was born, turning what had been an NADA committee into a full-fledged organization within an organization.
ATD 2016 Chairman Steve Parker, CEO of Baltimore Potomac Truck Centers in Linthicum, Md., said the group has four areas of focus: legislative and regulatory advocacy, industry relations, education, and member participation and engagement.
"It's really quite obvious that NADA plays a critical role in each of those," he said.
ATD has its own management and board, but the groups pool resources for lobbying, education and industry relations.
Parker said having a shared legislative office has opened doors for the truck retailers to work with lawmakers. Those efforts include having dealers host elected officials at their stores.
"A number of members of Congress have never stepped foot in a truck dealership," Parker said.
He spoke with Automotive News days before testifying at an Internal Revenue Service hearing on the 12 percent federal excise tax on heavy-truck sales. One of ATD's priorities is to keep the tax from increasing.
"These kinds of meetings with regulators are largely facilitated by NADA," Parker said.
ATD represents about 1,800 medium- and heavy-duty truck dealerships in the U.S. By contrast, NADA's membership tops 16,500.
"We're one-tenth the size of the car dealers, so our affiliation with the larger network brings resources and expertise we couldn't acquire on our own," said former ATD Chairman Kyle Tread-way, president of Kenworth Sales Co. in West Valley City, Utah.
Since 2012, NADA and ATD have held their annual conventions together.
Parker said the move allows the smaller group to tap into NADA's vast resources, yet maintain a degree of separation.
"In view of the industry consolidation of dealers, the ability of ATD to conduct its own stand-alone convention would be very, very challenging," he said.
Treadway agreed: "We had been through the recession and lost 10 percent of our membership, and it's difficult to have critical mass to attract all of the suppliers and exhibitors."
Treadway, who led the group from 2009 to 2012, said the joint conventions have worked well so far.
For one thing, NADA is able to attract prominent speakers. But he acknowledges one downside: "We are so small sometimes we get lost in the crowd."
ATD is small, but its reach goes deep. Treadway said ATD represents about 90 percent of the nation's truck retailers. "Because we're so small we have to pull together," he said.
And he said there are mutual benefits to working with NADA. The groups face many of the same issues, such as the shortage of service technicians.
"They've been a great partner for us. They've allowed us to ride on their coattails in many regards," Treadway said.
"We've broadened their horizons. We have conversations every day to enlighten them about the commercial vehicle world. I think that's helped them understand the impact they can have on our economy."
Parker added: "Being part of, and active with ATD, we're honored in being able to share in NADA reaching this centennial milestone. It's a remarkable achievement."