NITL: A Forceful Advocate

NITL: A Forceful Advocate

Copyright 2003, Traffic World, Inc.

In my more than 27 years working in the transportation industry, I have never read a more careless, mean-spirited or less accurate story than the one that was authored by John Schulz and which appeared in your May 26 publication titled, "Shippers in Disarray." Let me assure you and your readers that the only things that are in "disarray" are the facts in this article.

This story describes the apparent trials and tribulations involved in the search for a chief executive and the supposed suffering that The National Industrial Transportation League and the National Small Shipments Traffic Conference are going through as a result. My comments are in reply to those pertaining to the league.

First, to my knowledge, Mr. Schulz never spoke with anyone at the league regarding this story. If Mr. Schulz had bothered to talk to anyone at the league, he would have learned that his facts were: wrong with regard to our search efforts; wrong again with respect to the league''s ongoing policy initiatives; and wrong yet again as to the future direction of our organization.

As for our search for a new chief executive, it is true that we have been fielding candidates and have made efforts to narrow our choices. The time taken in accomplishing this process is not about money or a lack of direction, as Mr. Schulz would lead you to believe; it''s about finding a candidate that will be responsive to the new challenges that are facing our industry. The league that existed when it was founded in 1907, or even the organization that existed a decade ago when Ed Emmett was hired as chief executive, is not the same one that exists today, and we suspect our organization should and will be far different in the future. Just last year the league membership approved a new blueprint for our future known as "Vision 2020." It recognizes that the league must include all sectors of the transportation industry. In doing this we recognize that our chief executive must have the qualities and capabilities to manage business integrations, develop and provide new value-added programs and services, as well as to continue the things that we have always done well such as being the voice for the transportation industry before policy makers in Washington, D.C.

Admittedly making the right choice for a candidate that meets those needs takes some time. However, we have a definitive course of action and will continue to move deliberately. We believe that a careful and thorough process to fill a most important position is a virtue. And while this process may not meet Mr. Schulz''s timetable, I''m sorry to say that he is wrong and that the source for his article is simply not in a position to know.

As to the allegation that our on-going efforts to set the future course of the organization are blurring our current focus, nothing could be further from the truth. The league continues to be a forceful advocate in the reauthorization of the federal highway program. Indeed, Peter Gatti, our acting president, along with a few other select industry representatives, met just two weeks ago with Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta and his top staff about the administration''s reauthorization proposal. The league has been and continues to be a strong supporter for rail regulatory reform: in mid-May, the league announced its support of a major new congressional initiative in rail reform. The league has been a leader in international transportation and trade: for example, it has been named to the official U.S. delegation developing a new international treaty on ocean shipping liability. The league is an active member on all major transportation industry security initiatives, including the Rail Subcommittee of the Treasury Advisory Committee on Commercial Operations of the U.S. Customs Service; DOT''s Container Working Group; the Maritime Transportation National Advisory Council; the Aviation Security Advisory Committee; and others too numerous to mention. Indeed, the league just finished organizing and presenting four day-long seminars on transportation security in sites across the country. Our publication, the Notice, provides detailed accounts of all these efforts, a publication that Mr. Schulz receives weekly.

Finally, I am extremely disappointed in the lapse of quality standards that would have permitted this article to be printed. The article contains not a single quote from named sources. It fails to provide details on actual events or set forth any corroborated facts. Nor is it an editorial that would clearly be identified as the publication''s opinion. Mr. Schulz appears to be relying on an unnamed source who apparently shares his frustration and motivation to engage in innuendo, speculation and just plain mud-slinging rather than the more important interests of your readers.

Thomas F. Pellington, Chairman

National Industrial

Transportation League