Celebrating 100 Years at the Ohio Trucking Association

Contributions of Thomas A. Balzer, CAE, President & CEO of the Ohio Trucking Association.


The Ohio Trucking Association turns 100 years old in 2018. This is no small accomplishment for an association that represents an industry that has seen so many changes in its brief history. The growth of the association coincides with the growth of the automotive industry in general; Henry Ford introduced the Model T just ten years before the Ohio Trucking Association’s (the “Ohio Association of Commercial Haulers”) founding in Toledo. The transformations that this association and the industry have seen since then are amazing.

The Ohio Trucking Association has a very storied history and has made great strides through some of the industry’s most turbulent times. These include: construction of an interstate highway system; increases in capacity; and deregulation. Before his passing, I was fortunate enough to have lunch with Don Smith, who served as the Ohio Trucking Association’s Executive Vice President from 1961-1992. He talked about the changes he saw while running this organization. I realized that, while in the throes of these issues, it may not have seemed impactful, his career was extremely meaningful to the members of the industry. Tom King and Larry Davis’s tenures have had the same impact. I am sure that when I look back on my time here at the Ohio Trucking Association I will find pride in the impactful work that my team and I are working to accomplish on behalf of the industry and our members.

To make sure that we have given this milestone the attention it so deserves, we established a Centennial Commission. This commission has facilitated an active discussion on just how to celebrate our 100th anniversary. One of the first things that this group discussed was the following: how do you focus on this landmark? Do you look back, or do you look towards the future? This is a difficult distinction. Our association always wants to respect the legacy of the past 100 years. But losing sight of what is yet to come can prove to be significantly detrimental. This centennial is an excellent opportunity to practice situational awareness of where we are now, as well as look at the past and the transformations we have seen as an association. This exercise allows us the opportunity to write the next 100 years of our history.

Here, we see an opportunity to build on the successes we have had, and an opportunity to take advantage of new opportunities that will help us better serve the industry and prepare for the future. The leadership of the Ohio Trucking Association is firmly focused on making sure that every interaction in which we engage demonstrates distinct value to our members.

Every transaction (whether an association membership, purchase of equipment, or onboarding of new personnel) needs to show value; this is no truer today than it was previously. I take this responsibility very personally. When we lose a member, I am saddened to see that an organization did not utilize the obvious aspects of a valuable membership with the association. However, I also see an opportunity to strengthen the great work we do. We hear all too often that being a member of the Ohio Trucking Association is not worth what we charge in membership dues. To that I say: prove it. I can tell you with 100% confidence that I can provide the return on your membership investment. That is not ego talking; that is confidence in the work we are doing. We are creating a difference in your business. We wish to highlight the positive impact that we have had on the industry during the last century, as well as grow our impact as we move forward.

If interested in discussing the impact of the industry, association work, or speaking with me on another topic, call me at 614-225-1026 or schedule a meeting.

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