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Association Bisnow
March 11, 2008



When his second term as Kansas Governor ended in 2003, Bill Graves didn't waste time getting to his new gig as CEO of the American Trucking Association. His successor sworn in on a Monday, Bill was at work on Wednesday—eager to start up at a place he got to know as a child through the family business, Graves Truck Line, Inc.


Here's the Governor's dad on the cover of The Kansas Transporter—(nowhere near as prestigious as Association Bisnow, of course, but still). The firm was founded by Bill's grandpa back in 1935 and survived until 1980, when it fell prey to deregulation and was bought out by a larger operation. It turned out to be fortuitous:  with the family business gone, Bill started managing events for the 1980 presidential campaign of George Bush and in the process launched his own political career.


Bill says that leading an association calls on a central skill developed as Governor—representing a diverse constituency.  And how:  Besides its dues-paying members (including FedEx, UPS, Coca-Cola bottlers, and Wal-Mart), the ATA represents 37,000 trucking companies through 50 state associations. Some of Bill's most important moves, he says, have been personnel changes:  installing a new SVP for advocacy, Tim Lynch, to head the ATA's team of six lobbyists on Capitol Hill; and naming Dan Stanley, the Department of Defense's legislative coordinator under Rumsfeld and Bill's former head of administration back in Kansas, as Chief of Staff.


On the legislative side, ATA is currently pushing for a national standard for bio-diesel fuel, a "green" form of diesel that mixes in biodegradable elements like vegetable oil (and is more expensive than gas, if you can believe that). But the biggest issue on the mind of ATA members, as identified in its annual survey last year, is the supply of drivers. ATA has been working with AARP to identify people interested in second (or third or fourth) careers, and matching them up with jobs at its "Get Trucking" website. Sounds like an opportunity for someone to start a trucking school—maybe in Kansas?

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