NOTE – We continue our ongoing series examining state and province trucking associations and the people who lead them with this feature on the AMTA’s Chris Nash, AMTA President.
Passion for the Industry Brings Chris Nash to the AMTA
He’s a trucking industry lifer. While other 16 year olds were thinking about cars and girls, Chris Nash was thinking about work at Slave Lake, about two hours north of Edmonton, Alberta. There, he spent his summer working with a pumpjack service company, assisting with anything that needed to get done for pumpjack installation. It was hard work and long hours – not something just any teenager could handle. What’s more, Chris learned first-hand the importance of trucks to the operation.
For Chris, all he learned in his experience at Slave Lake, and the 30 years since in the private sector, is now coming into play at the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA). Today, he’s President of the association, and making his presence felt.
And that bodes well for the association, and its 14,000 members.
But, who exactly is Chris Nash? In 1987, fresh out of high school, he joined Byers Transport. He would stay with the company for 13 years – growing in responsibility and stature. “At first I loaded trucks, then operated fork lifts,” recalled Chris. “I had a quest for knowledge, so after I learned one part of the business, I wanted to try something new.” That included all indoor and outdoor warehouse jobs to becoming a long-haul driver.
In 2004, Chris joined Jones Transportation, at the time a very small trucking and intermodal company with just three trucks. In his 14-year stay there, the company (founded by Robert Jones) — grew to 35 trucks with more than 100 trailers. It even opened a Commercial Vehicle Inspection Program facility, and in 2013 built a brand new building and yard. Within six months of working at Jones, Chris bought his first truck and eventually ran up to six of his own. “Being at such a small company I wore a lot of hats, and was involved in most aspects of the business,” he said. “When I joined the company, I worked to secure loads and drum up new business. We learned from the school of hard knocks, but we persevered and grew. In 2015, I became president of the company.”
Getting Involved in the AMTA
It was at Jones Transportation where Chris got actively involved in AMTA. “I was like a sponge when I went to the meetings,” said Chris. “I always like to learn and as I did, I wanted to get involved in areas that could make a difference.”
Chris worked on several committees including compliance and regulatory affairs, load securement, LCV, and others. “I’ve always felt that you can either complain, or get involved. I chose to get involved,” he said. “And what we were doing with AMTA helped change trucking in Alberta – we were having an impact.”
In 2016, Chris joined the AMTA Board of Directors as the AMTA’s Edmonton Regional Director, associating with membership and reporting at the regional meetings. A year later, Chris was appointed to the AMTA Board — serving as Junior Vice Chair. Chris began meeting directly with Alberta’s government, plus he attended events on AMTA’s behalf.
When Lorraine Card announced her retirement after a three-year stint as president of AMTA, Chris received a number of recommendations and referrals – people wanted him to apply for the position. “It was an opportunity to enhance our industry,” said Chris. “I was honored to be asked, and decided to serve.”
Chris now heads one of the most progressive and innovative transport associations in all of Canada. In its 80th year, the AMTA, as a health and safety advocacy group with the goal of injury reduction, continues to work closely with government to find solutions for commercial transportation industry issues. “We’re the bridge between government and the trucking industry,” said Chris. “We’re not adversaries…we’re really partners for a common goal. I believe, that as an association, we are the voice, the standard and the resource for the industry. As the Voice we are the medium to communicate with government through our Compliance and Regulatory Affairs (CRA) department. As the Standard we create the benchmark that demands excellence in safety through our Partners in Compliance (PIC) and Certificate of Recognition (COR) programs. As the Resource we equip the industry with the necessary injury reduction tools and best practices through our Injury Reduction and Training (IRT) department.”
The PIC program is where safe fleets are rewarded with inspection site bypasses. In 2017, the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Branch began offering Alberta fleets involved in the PIC program weigh station bypasses through Drivewyze. Operated by the AMTA under a partnership agreement with Alberta Justice and Solicitor General CV
EB and Alberta Transportation, the system was recently recognized by the Intelligence Transportation Systems Society of Canada with a national award for its use of smart transponder technology at 56 locations in Alberta.
When it comes to training, the AMTA gets five stars. In addition to a training facility and office in Calgary, AMTA has an impressive 20,000 square-foot facility in Edmonton, adjacent to a five-acre paved track for training, technology testing, and research capabilities for things like GHG reduction. AMTA also hosts the Alberta Professional Truck Driving Championships (in its 70th year), along with Commercial Vehicle Enforcement’s Inspector’s Challenge, which has been around for 25 years. In 2018, these were the first events held at the new facility. The new facility also has three training rooms, plus a boardroom. But, it’s the training capabilities of AMTA that has Chris smiling ear-to-ear. “We’re leading the way with some innovative training,” he said. “We had minimal programs when I started, but that is quickly changing. The summer of 2018 saw the completion of the new AMTA Professional Driver Improvement Course (PDIC), as well as the introduction of the Certified Transportation Safety Professional (CTSP) designation, and the Certified Transportation Safety Coordinator (CTSC) designation.”
The AMTA, with support from industry, developed the CTSP professional designation to recognize the career progression of safety and compliance professionals within the commercial transportation industry. The Certified Transportation Safety Professional is a specialist-level designation that establishes the benchmark for the experience and knowledge required to become a CTSP. For individuals who do not meet the requirements for CTSP, AMTA has the entry-level designation of Certified Transportation Safety Coordinator. According to Chris, five of the eight mandatory courses are completed with the rest to be completed in 2019. “And, this is just the beginning,” he said.
The AMTA is also working to deliver the MELT (Mandatory Entry Level Training) program on March 1 of next year. For those unfamiliar with MELT, the training mandates follows discussions with key industry stakeholders and Albertans. The Government of Alberta is implementing mandatory entry-level training for new Class 1 and Class 2 commercial drivers. That means new drivers to our industry (as well as instructors) will go through 121.5 hours of training.
Both the Calgary and Edmonton locations have truck simulators to help in training drivers in a safe environment. The simulators can replicate and segment complex real-word traffic situations.
Industry’s biggest challenge:
According to Chris, the commercial transportation industry is experiencing a driver shortage mainly due to an aging workforce. “The average age of a Canadian truck driver is now 47 years old, and it is expected to be 49 years old by 2024,” he said. “In the United States, the average age of a truck driver is 55 years old.”
Chris said the AMTA is working with industry partners to address recruitment and retention issues, by creating pathways to attract a younger workforce and underrepresented groups, introducing new technologies and overall improving the driver experience.
“We need to look at our company cultures by way of inclusion and diversity. If we continue to operate as we have in the past with recruitment and retention practices, the driver shortage will continue. To address this, it will require more than creating awareness. We have to change our perceptions as an industry by changing how we operate.”
Looking forward, Chris said this: “We are in the midst of developing and furthering training opportunities for professional drivers in the province, but we cannot do it alone. We would also like to see our fellow provincial associations working with us on this initiative. We want to ensure that training across the province and across the country is at its safest and is as harmonized as possible with other provinces. In looking to the future, it is important that we continue to fuel driver engagement in our industry and provide foundational training for the people moving products along our provincial highways and beyond.”
AMTA at a Glance:
AMTA Training Facility
3599 56 Ave. East
Edmonton International Airport, Alberta T9E 0V4
AMTA Calgary Office
1 285005 Wrangler Way
Rocky View, Alberta T1X 0K3
(Please note we opened our doors at the AMTA Training Facility on October 30, 2018. The Edmonton office at 121 625 Parsons Road SW is closed.)
How to join:
To join the Alberta Motor Transport Association, visit amta.ca/what-we-do/membership to complete the membership application.
AMTA represents 14,000 members of the commercial transportation industry in Alberta through WCB Alberta’s injury reduction and training programs and the AMTA Certificate of Recognition program. 350 members participate in the Compliance and Regulatory Affairs program.
- The AMTA is the voice, the standard, and the resource, for the commercial transportation industry.
- As the Voice, AMTA’s Compliance and Regulatory Affairs department is the bridge between industry and government. It facilitates conversations with government and stakeholders on issues impacting its members and finds solutions.
- As the Standard, AMTA establishes the industry benchmark that represents excellence in safety through its Certificate of Recognition (COR) and PIC programs. These departments optimize standards to meet injury reduction and safety requirements in an ever-changing landscape.
- As the Resource, the AMTA’s Injury and Reduction and Training Department equips industry with necessary tools and best practices. It also develops and delivers quality safety programs.
- AMTA’s work encompasses a broad range of environmental, social, economic, safety and compliance matters that impact Alberta’s highways.
- AMTA cultivates confidence behind the wheel, to ensure drivers and passengers across the province get to where they need to go safely and efficiently.
President: Chris Nash
- As President of the Alberta Motor Transport Association, Chris is responsible for management of the Association and carrying out the organization’s strategic objectives.