Family, Health, and Technology at the Heart of GATS
I’ve had the pleasure of attending many trucking tradeshows over the years, but this was my first year at the Great American Trucking Show (GATS). GATS is geared toward owner/operators and small trucking companies—those with less than five trucks—which also represent the majority of America’s trucking demographic. More than 500 vendors were on display, allowing carriers to be hands-on with the products they offer. The show was robust, well attended, and fun to be a part of. Here are a few things I took away from the show.
Family was at the heart of GATS
It is very clear to see that GATS is more than a convention for trucking professionals—it’s also a family event. So many husband and wife business owners were out walking the floor, and many attendees brought their kids to the show. I liked this aspect of the event the most. It is fun to talk to truck drivers about life on the road and meet the families who support them. The working families in this business make it great; they make it the American dream. These families are owning and running their own businesses, and those businesses represent the majority of truck drivers in America.
Health and wellness is a top priority
The push for a healthy driver lifestyle was very evident at GATS. Vendors sold skin care products, cooking utensils, and sleep accessories. The Health and Wellness Pavilion offered affordable DOT physicals, mammograms, eye screenings, chiropractic assistance, and nutrition expertise. This year’s event also included a 5K run/walk and a yoga workout for attendees. Driver health is becoming a growing industry focus—which is long overdue—so it was amazing to see how much support truck drivers have in health and wellness these days.
Technology offerings are on the rise
Walking the floor, I couldn’t help but notice that there were more vendors offering mobile apps to support drivers on the go. Many of the apps give drivers the ability to find amenities on the road—including visibility to truck stop locations, places to eat, and truck parking—as well as convenience capabilities—like paperwork scanning, coupons and promotions, load boards, and navigation. Carriers want simple, easy to use mobile technology that helps them run their business, and companies are responding. More start-ups have entered the market and are looking to entice truck drivers to use them. So, in addition to seeing all the new app options, it was great to see how well the carriers at GATS were embracing new mobile technologies.
These are just a few of the things that stood out to me at GATS. Trucking families were out in force to learn about products and services to help them run their businesses. GATS didn’t disappoint, because there is something for everyone at this event. If you haven’t been, I would strongly suggest you attend next August. Walk the floor, see the vendors, and bring the kids!