Copyright 2006, Traffic World, Inc.
The death of Clarence James "Mac" McCormick III, chairman, CEO and founder of Bestway Express, Oct. 26 shocked the transportation world and forced the nation''s largest trucking association to seek a new chairman.
McCormick, who was killed in a plane crash near Lawrenceville, Ill., served as first vice chairman at the American Trucking Associations and was in line to begin a year as ATA''s chairman last week at ATA''s management conference in Dallas. ATA was expected to replace McCormick with a new candidate last week.
The next in line for the chairmanship was second vice chairman Ray Kuntz, chairman and CEO of Watkins and Shepard Trucking, Helena, Mont.
"I''m both stunned and saddened by the news of Mac''s death," said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. "Mac was a tireless ambassador for the trucking industry. This is truly an enormous loss. Our hearts go out to his family at this difficult time."
"Mac McCormick''s death is a devastating loss," said ATA Chairman Pat Quinn. "He was more than a rising star in the industry, he was also a great friend. I considered it an honor to work with him as chairman this past year. He will be truly missed."
McCormick, 55, founded Vincennes, Ind.-based Bestway Express in the early 1980s with four trucks, and the company has since grown to 400 trucks providing regional and dedicated trucking service. The company got interstate operating authority in 1984 and grew from there to also include warehousing and logistics services.
According to the company''s website, its customers include Johnson Controls, Essex, AP Tentech, Lear Seating and Woodbridge Corp.
The Vincennes Sun-Commercial reported McCormick was returning from Indianapolis. He was flying the small plane that crashed near where he intended to land and was the only person killed in the crash, which occurred in poor weather, the paper reported. The paper also said McCormick was a "skilled pilot" and "was said to have a heart condition."
The plane''s wreckage was found Friday morning after an extensive search launched when the plane disappeared from radar late Thursday night.
As ATA chairman, McCormick was poised to push the federal government to require speed governors in all new heavy trucks that are set no higher than 68 miles per hour. He appeared at a press conference at the National Press Club and spoke at a Traffic World Transportation Table lunch Oct. 20 to announce an ATA petition on speed governors.
At the lunch, McCormick called on the trucking industry''s sense of "social responsibility" to rally behind the petition.
Although many trucking companies, including Bestway already use 68 mph governors, he said he knew it would be controversial.
"This will not be a popular initiative even among our ranks," McCormick said. "We will take some flack for it even among our ranks. But it''s the right thing to do."
McCormick was close to Federal Highway Motor Carrier Safety Administrator John Hill, who is from Indiana and headed the Indiana State Police commercial motor vehicle enforcement division. Hill spoke with McCormick at the lunch.
"My prayers are with Mac''s family during their time of grief," Hill said. "As a fellow pilot, Mac and I shared a love for flying. In Indiana, we worked on commercial vehicle safety issues for more than 15 years. Mac was a forward thinker; someone who was always looking to make things better. I know his passion for life and dedication will be sorely missed, but I want to continue to build on his commitment to improving the safety of our national transportation system."
McCormick had a track record of being active in ATA and previously had led its Truckload Carriers Association. In 1998, as the TCA''s chairman, he urged the group to leave politics to ATA and have the sub-group focus on its core trucking industry issues. In spite of that call, he didn''t shy away from politics, having also previously led Truck PAC, the ATA''s political action committee.
McCormick was a University of Tennessee graduate and also previously led the Indiana Motor Truck Association. He was active in the Indiana Chamber of Commerce as well.