The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has tapped Chris Spear to replace Bill Graves as the federation’s president and chief executive officer. Graves is retiring after more than 13 years at the helm of the organization.
Spear currently serves as vice president of government affairs at Hyundai Motor Company and brings to ATA a long history of experience on Capitol Hill, in federal agencies, as well as in the private sector. He previously served as ATA’s senior vice president of legislative affairs.
Spear successfully led ATA's efforts on the Hill and was instrumental in developing and advancing the association's strategic advocacy agenda, which resulted in public policy that advanced ATA's pro-trucking, pro-safety and pro-efficiency agenda.
ATA is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of 50 affiliated state trucking associations and industry-related conferences and councils, ATA is the voice of the industry.
"Chris' enthusiasm for the trucking industry and the mission of ATA – to effectively advocate and communicate efforts that improve safety and profitability for our members – is second to none," said ATA Chairman Pat Thomas, vice president of state government affairs at UPS. "We had many excellent candidates for the position, but Spear is the right fit for the organization. We are extremely pleased that he will be joining us."
Spear, recognized as a passionate advocate, effective communicator and relationship builder, has a wealth of political experience in Washington and in the business arena. Spear was vice president of global government relations at Honeywell International, and he held executive branch positions including Assistant Secretary of Labor. Spear also served as professional staff for Sens. Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.). He holds a bachelor's and master's degree from the University of Wyoming.
"I'm honored to have the opportunity to lead this great association and serve this vital industry," said Spear. "Trucking is the backbone of our economy and a catalyst for American job growth, delivering critical goods to businesses and homes coast-to-coast. I am excited to work alongside ATA's members and federation partners to ensure the industry continues to prosper and safely move our nation forward."
Spear was selected from among a number of well-qualified candidates by a search committee headed by former ATA Chairman Phil Byrd, president of Bulldog Hiway Express.
"ATA is lucky to be able to bring Chris in as our next leader. This is an important time of transition for our industry and we are confident that Chris has the strategic vision and leadership to maintain ATA's position as the strongest voice on behalf of the trucking industry in Washington and beyond," Byrd said. "We are also lucky to have had the services of Bill Graves for the past 13 years and we would be remiss if we did not thank him for his work on our industry's behalf."
"It's been my honor to lead ATA as president and CEO for almost 14 years. I'll always appreciate the opportunity ATA members afforded me in 2001 when I was chosen for the position and the support they've provided since 2003 when I moved to Washington to assume that role," Graves said. "Trucking has always been close to my heart and I'm very proud that a trucking company bore my family's name. Now is the time to pass on the leadership responsibility to Chris, a person whom I have great respect for and confidence in his ability to lead ATA. I look forward to providing assistance in his leadership transition. It's an exciting new time for the ATA and I wish the organization, and Chris, nothing but success."
Graves will serve as an advisor to ATA for the remainder of 2016.