Thursday, April 2, 2015

The numbers are in - MATS 2015 breaks all-time attendance record


That's the number of attendees who made it down to Louisville for this year's Mid-America Trucking Show, the largest in the event's  33-year history. The previous high for attendance was just under 81,000 at the 2012 event.

The attendees came from all 50 states and 74 countries worldwide.

The trucking show released its attendance figures via email Thursday, April 2, and several of the Land Line veterans of MATS' past will tell you that number sounds about right. Exhibit halls, lobbies, parking lots and even the highways were jammed-packed the entire time.

Along with all those people, the 1.2 million square-feet of exhibition space served as a temporary home to 1,064 vendors and exhibitors from 43 states and 14 countries.

If you weren't able to make it this year (or if you were and want to relive some of the highlights) the folks at the official MATS website put together an outstanding video playlist that's worth checking out. See for yourself below.

If you weren't one of the lucky 81,000 this year, there's plenty of time to make plans to be there for next year's show, which will take place March 31-April 2, 2016.

Monday, March 30, 2015

#FacesOfMats - End of show roundup

The amount of people attending MATS is mind-blowing enough in and of itself, but the number of those people who are also OOIDA members meant it was hard to go from Point A to Point B without having to take a slight detour to chat with (or photograph) people who were rocking their Association apparel.

The thing about our members in general, is they are some of the kindest, most professional folks you're ever going to meet anywhere. The ones I met, visited with, and in most cases, took pictures of, were all delightful. And nobody gave me a hard time about taking pictures with my tablet, either!

Life members Nathan & Elizabeth Ricks stop by the Land Line Now booth in the North Lobby.

Life Member Tom Smith taking in some of the sights in the West Wing Exhibition Hall.
Members Gina and Brian Kuhn, working the booth for Church of the Traveling Steering Wheel, a conference call church service geared for over-the-road truckers who are away from home.

OOIDA members Debbie and John Newgent at the Women In Trucking Salute on Saturday.

Life Member Aaron Stoltzfoos and his wife Esther. They've been married for 51 years.
Member Paul Daugherty, his wife Ramona, and their kids Chris and Hannah, take a break from shopping for truck parts.

Life Member David Hutchinson, and his son Blaine, age 7, were on the lookout for Peterbilts on Friday.

Life Member Russell Short,aka "White Shadow" in homage to the TV show, said this was the first time in 10 years he'd made it to Louisville for MATS.

Hey, good lookin'

It's the opening of the truck show season and what a grand opening it was. More than 80 trucks in competition, and a few more on display.  The Paul K Young Memorial Truck Championship was a jam-packed wow from the anticipation to the finish. 

Always at the top of his game, Todd Roccapriore and his remake of Disorderly Conduct, a 1999 blue and black Peterbilt 379, was not just the king of the hill. He owned it with six trophies including People's Choice, Best of Show Limited Mileage Bobtail, Best Lights, Best Paint, Best Engine and Best Interior Limited Mileage Bobtail.  Roccapriore, who has more than 6,000 hours invested in this truck, explained how he consistently comes out on top.  "I put my heart into it. And when I'm done, even though there may be things that I'd do different if I had it to do over, I know I've given it everything I've got. People may be able to put more money into it. I don't think it's all about the money. I know it's all about the heart."

Best of Show Limited Mileage Combo was awarded to Josh Reed/Lanita Specialized of Pioneer, Ohio,. He made a sizzling standout with his black and burgundy 2015 Kenworth W900L and 2015 Mac curtainside flatbed trailer.  No detail left to chance, this truck lit up the parking lot and the eyes of every truck enthusiast.

A new category this year, Limited Mileage Dump Combo brought a few hot hoppers and haulers to the fore. Best of Show was awarded to Brian Davis/Davis Bros., Owensville, Ind., and the knockout Superfreak black and blue 2005 Peterbilt 379 pulling a 2012 Wilson DHW501.  Speakers and sound round out the details as the deckplate rises and the party begins.

Mike Horst of Bethel, Pa., leaped onto center stage with his slick and shiny white and red 2006 Peterbilt 379, earning Best of Show Working Bobtail, the Jake Eilen Pride in Your Ride Award, and three other awards. His white with red accented theme carried from front to back, inside and out with a diamond tufted interior that absolutely stopped traffic.

Best of Show Working Combo and an armload of trophies went to Brad Caton/Eilen & Sons Trucking, Hampton, Minn., with their latest entry, a white black and blue 2014 Peterbilt 389 pulling a 2013 Mac tri-axle dump trailer painted to match.

While these trucks were the Best Of Show winners, every participant offered something special and every truck was someone's favorite.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

At Papa John’s Lot, it’s live music, good eats and plenty of giving back

Depending on your perspective, the highlight of any MATS show may be the spectacular product reveals, or perhaps the glitzy, glittering show trucks, or the miles and miles of free “swag” exhibitors give away in hopes of catching the attention of passersby at one of the hundreds of booths or displays.

But for a hardcore group of drivers, the highlights start and end with whatever’s going on at the Papa John’s Lot before and after the Kentucky Expo Center opens or shuts down each day.

The Papa John’s Stadium parking lot is where truckers can park their rigs and get shuttle service to and from the venue, but it’s also a hub of all sorts of activities, many of which are geared around one of truckers’ favorite pastimes – charitable giving.

Concerts included a Saturday night performance by OOIDA member Tony Justice, sponsored by OOIDA. Singer-songwriter and OOIDA member Joey Holiday also performed on both Thursday and Friday nights from his custom trailer/traveling stage.

Despite unseasonably cold temperatures on Thursday, Trucking Solutions Group hosted its annual Driver Health Walk, with TSG member and OOIDA director of regulatory affairs Scott Grenerth leading a procession of about 30 truckers on a 2.2-mile walk to Churchill Downs and back. TSG also hosted a roundtable discussion to promote Cooking In The Cab.

Several trucker charities hosted events for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Groups involved include Jacob Russell Boulanger Memorial (JRBM) Fund and Truckers United for Charities, and the Just Because group (JBC). Trucker Charity and Operation Roger also participated.

An impromptu fundraiser was held during the Mid-America Trucking Show for the OOIDA Mary-Johnston Scholarship Fund. Spirit Captain Jon Osburn found some glow sticks from a previous show and members took off selling them on the lot. Looks like they did quite well.

The total amounts raised for various groups are still being tabulated, but early returns include more than $4,800 total raised for groups including St. Christopher Fund, the Last Ride Home, OOIDA’s Truckers for Troops, and Camp Quality Kentuckiana, which provides year-round programs and services for children with cancer and their families. Non-perishable food items were also donated to local food banks in Louisville.

Women In Trucking debut new "Image Team"

Women In Trucking Association’s annual Salute To Women Behind the Wheel featured the debut of the first-ever Women In Trucking Image Team.

The team, made up of five drivers, were chosen from a field of 25 nominees, all of whom exemplify leadership and other qualities in line with the organization’s mission, which is to promote both the employment and accomplishments of women in trucking as well as minimizing obstacles preventing them from participating in the industry.

The members of the 2015 Image Team are:

1.)    Ingrid Brown, a 35-year veteran with over 3 million safe miles. She is an OOIDA member and owner-operator who is also involved in Trucker Buddy, Special Olympics and the Pediatric Cancer Institute among other causes.
2.)    Allyson Hay, a 17-year veteran, including 12 years at Walmart, logging over 1 million safe miles. She is a past member of the Walmart Road Team.
3.)    Wyzeena Heeny, a 14-year veteran, with over 1.2 million safe miles for Covenant where she is a master driver trainer. She was also 2013 member of Tennessee’s Road Team.
4.)    Stephanie Klang, a 35-year veteran of trucking with over 3 million safe miles at Conway Truckload. Klang is also a former America’s Road Team captain.
5.)    Carol Nixon, a 24-year veteran, who also drives for Walmart. She has received numerous safe driving awards and is involved in Trucker Buddy and other community services.

The Image Team will also participate in ride-alongs with legislators, as well as speak at conferences, trade shows and other events.

Saturday’s event featured several announcements, including a fundraiser for the group’s scholarship fund, a keynote address from Marcia Taylor, CEO of Bennett International, and the “WIT Index” – an effort to measure and track the number of female drivers and women in management in private fleets, as well as the number of women who serve on the boards of publicly traded carriers.

The 2015 Women In Trucking Image Team. From left: OOIDA member Ingrid Brown, Allyson Hay, Wyzeena Heeny, Stephanie Klang, and Carol Nixon.