JIM MESSERLY IS GMTA’s new chairman. Jim joined Courier Express, which his father had recently purchased, right after graduating from Auburn University in 1990. Fresh out of college, his marketing degree prepared him for the business world, but the trucking industry was a new frontier. It didn’t take long for Messerly to realize just how essential trucking is to business and to the entire supply chain.
The integral role of trucking in people’s daily lives has become even more apparent since the pandemic.
“In the COVID world that we live in, it’s very important that the products we need and use every day are delivered, and on time,” said Messerly, who is now president of Courier Express. “Even with so many things shut down and other activities curtailed, trucks have made it possible to live as close as possible to a normal life.”
Messerly has increased his knowledge of trucking through his activities with GMTA, which he joined in the early 1990s. After he was on the GMTA board for several years he began moving up the chairs as treasurer, secretary, and vice chairman and will assume the position as chairman in late June. He’s also a member of the Convention Committee this year.
In the months ahead, with the assistance of the GMTA board, GMTA President & CEO Ed Crowell and the rest of the association’s staff, Messerly plans to focus on GMTA’s growth, financial health and effectiveness.
“We want to increase the number of members and increase our members’ participation in our different programs throughout the year,” Messerly said. “GMTA’s Chief Development Officer Nathan Goolsby is dedicated to working with new members. But the ultimate way to recruit will be through our existing members and word of mouth. We’re going to try to get people to invite others to come to activities and to allow our staff to support and encourage participation.” He hopes that trucking companies and their vendor partners will become more active and involved in GMTA.
Messerly said he wishes more members were aware of how valuable a resource they have in the GMTA staff. “They are our cornerstone. They are always accessible and available for feedback, and are ready to support members,” he said. (He is literally in a position to know how well the staff works; the headquarters of Courier Express is on Franklin Way in Marietta, right across the street from GMTA’s offices.)
FINANCIAL HEALTH: SURVIVING IN DIFFICULT TIMES
Messerly noted that to be successful long term, GMTA must continue to safeguard its finances. “The staff at GMTA has done an incredible job over the past year making sure that our financials are strong, despite disruptions to our income caused by the pandemic,” he added. “We were able to offer most of our programs this year in a modified way. We had less participation because of social distancing restrictions; however, we were still able to accomplish many great things. The health of the organization stayed strong.”
The association demonstrated its resiliency in other ways as well. Board meetings were held on Zoom and via video conferencing so that everyone could participate. Association leaders also used the online platform to continue its lobbying efforts, which included conversations with Rick Jasperse, the new chair of the Transportation Committee in the Georgia House of Representatives, Georgia Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.
“From an association standpoint, we’ve taken advantage of video conferencing, and it’s really opened up our ability to do more things,” Messerly added. He hopes to continue some use of this technology to make it easier for members to participate in GMTA activities.
Although attendance at the 2000 GMTA annual convention was down from previous years, GMTA was able to hold that meeting along with its Leadership Conference and other GMTA events. “We had to follow new protocols, but we made sure that the association was able to move forward and offer continued educational programming,” he added.
“We anticipate having even more success moving forward; if we can survive 2020, we can survive anything as an association,” Messerly said.
The third area that Messerly plans to concentrate on is political activities and governance.
“We have to make sure that we are representing our industry to the government in the state of Georgia,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many bills come up throughout the year that could be dangerous to our industry. So we must make sure that we’re effective and mindful of that, and maintain an open line of communication with our leaders in Georgia’s House and Senate. We must ensure that we can either prevent something negative to our industry from happening, or that we get passage in the legislature on decisions beneficial to us.
“With a Democratic president in the White House and a Democratic majority in the Senate and House of Representatives, it is more important than ever that GMTA work closely with the American Trucking Association this year,” Messerly added.
Between his responsibilities at Courier Express and his role as GMTA chair, Messerly is going to have a busy professional year. But life at home will be a little quieter; he and Cindy, his wife of 30 years, are now empty nesters. That’s a big contrast to the years when they were raising four girls born within an 8-year span: Kate, Anna, Molly and Maggie. The family has close ties to Auburn University; Cindy, Anna and Molly are also graduates, Kate attended the school, and Maggie is currently enrolled there.
Messerly is looking forward to his term as chair. “The GMTA staff does an excellent job each and every year, and I’m excited about working with our existing board members and our general members. Our association has done a phenomenal job over the years; I’m humbled to be part of this process and to help facilitate its continued success through my role,” he said.