The North American Transportation Management Institute (NATMI) celebrates its 75th Anniversary this year. With this in mind, let’s go back to the beginning, as most of our members likely have little knowledge of NATMI’s rich history.
NATMI was originally named National Committee on Automotive Fleet Supervisor Training (and later the National Committee for Motor Fleet Supervisor Training and Certification), which was founded at the Pennsylvania State University in 1944 by ''The Father of Driver Education," Professor Amos E. Neyhart.
Largely through Dr. Neyhart’s efforts, several nationally known organizations in the fields of automotive transportation, highway safety, and insurance met in New York City on March 28, 1944 with the objective of helping fleet owners and operators improve driver selection, training, control, and general operating efficiency for safer and more profitable operation.
Each cooperating organization – which included the American Automobile Association, the American Trucking Associations, the National Safety Council and several other associations – would appoint a representative to the Committee to serve as a specialist in some phase of the Committee's work. In addition, more than 100 experienced leaders in the fields of highway transportation, safety, maintenance and insurance served voluntarily on various subcommittees to develop course content and to direct the national program.
At their next meeting, on November 22, 1944, the National Committee on Automotive Fleet Supervisor Training was founded. The Automotive Safety Foundation awarded a $14,000 grant to Pennsylvania State University to develop the national program. The objectives of the new program were to:
- Serve as a central clearinghouse for developing training
- Furnish staff direction and teaching personnel
- Develop new materials and improve existing materials
- Establish minimum standards for motor vehicle fleet supervisor training
- Conduct research studies in the field of motor fleet operations
- Promote fleet training courses at universities
Professor Neyhart directed the program for the university and Norman Damon, vice president of the Automotive Safety Foundation, was elected Chairman.
The training program expanded from the Penn State campus to six additional universities: University of California, Berkeley, Oregon State, University of Washington, Georgia Tech, University of Michigan and Purdue. Within one year, enrollment grew from 34 students at one campus to 321 at seven campuses.
In February 1945, two staff members from Penn State's Institute of Public Safety were assigned to assist Professor Neyhart in managing the program. In 1945, these three men saw the courses expanded to 17 universities and 710 students – a 121% increase over 1944.
The training programs continued to grow during the National Committee's first decade and in 1955 the organization created a professional certification program. Certification was made available for safety management, maintenance management, driver training and pupil transportation professionals. With the exception of the pupil transportation designation, all of these programs are still offered by NATMI today.
Our membership composition has changed little over the years, consisting of seasoned leaders from motor fleets, insurance companies, industry associations, governmental agencies, and other areas related to truck and bus transportation. These professionals have provided the expertise to develop up-to-date programs on a continuing basis.
In 1984, due to changes that occurred with the university staffing of the program, the National Committee Executive Board voted to move its base of operations from Penn State to Michigan State University. Dr. Donald L. Smith assumed the position of Executive Director of the program at the new university.
However, due to limited resources provided to the program by the new university, the National Committee struggled for the next few years. Thus, in 1993 the National Committee's Executive Board voted to move its base of operations once again, transferring management of the program from Michigan State University to the American Trucking Associations (ATA).
NATMI’s current Executive Director, Jeff Arnold, was hired in 1994 and is proudly celebrating his 25th Anniversary with the organization this year. Under his leadership, the organization upgraded the quality of its training using Instructional Systems Design (ISD) and established a required train-the-trainer program for instructors to improve teaching consistency and quality. He also changed NATMI’s business model to partner with state and provincial trucking associations to offer its training programs.
Because its original name became less relevant as the organization evolved, the National Committee for Motor Fleet Supervisor Training and Certification was renamed the North American Transportation Management Institute in 1997. Although it has always remained university affiliated (currently with the University of Central Florida), it ceased to be university run. As a result of its change in status from being a university program to an independent training and certification organization, NATMI was incorporated as an independent non-profit educational organization.
In 2001, ATA, which had overseen the program since 1993, changed its business focus and transferred oversight of NATMI to the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), which currently maintains fiduciary oversight of NATMI as an affiliated organization.
Although the organizations affiliated with and providing support to NATMI have changed many times over the past 75 years, its mission, programs and services have remained unchanged. NATMI still relies on a wide range of seasoned industry professionals to create and deliver excellent training and certification programs for transportation management professionals.
This past year was NATMI’s most successful ever with the highest participation in its training and certification programs since its founding. The future looks bright for many more milestones ahead.
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