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10/21/2015 3:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Familiarity With Washington's Political Landscape an Asset for New ATA Chairman Pat Thomas

John Sommers II for Transport Topics

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For Pat Thomas, senior vice president of state government affairs at UPS Inc. and the new chairman of American Trucking Associations, Big Brown’s gargantuan hub here epitomizes freight connectivity.

Worldport, the largest fully automated package-sorting center on the planet, is home to UPS’ airport facility, a truck corral, a network of warehouses and expansive sorting spaces that together handle 416,000 packages per hour. Every machine is synchronized to help workers ensure packages reach their destinations as scheduled.

“If you were going to pick one spot anywhere within our network around the world, this is the best place where you get the most diversity of what our business is,” Thomas told Transport Topics during a visit through the facility.

Thomas is acutely aware that the success of UPS’ finely tuned operations, as well as those of other trucking and transportation firms, hinges in part on the laws and regulations shaped in Washington, D.C., and by state legislatures.His mission at UPS is to ensure that the legal and regulatory environment remains favorable to his company, and he brings that experience to his role as ATA chairman. For more than a dozen years, he has honed those skills educating members of Congress and state legislators about UPS’ priorities.

He also learned Congress’ inner workings by watching his father, the late Craig Thomas, a Republican senator from Wyoming, navigate Capitol Hill’s political landscape.

Thomas’ chairmanship commenced Oct. 20, at the culmination of ATA’s Management Conference & Exhibition in Philadelphia. He is the first chairman to come from UPS. The package-delivery firm, headquartered in Atlanta, holds the top spot on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in the United States and Canada.

Thomas said he will focus on promoting safety and push Congress to make permanent the rollback of an unfavorable change to truckers’ hours-of-service rules.

In interviews here with TT and at ATA’s Capitol Hill office, Thomas stressed that his familiarity with Congress, the rapport he has developed over the years with key lawmakers on the transportation panels and his proximity to Capitol Hill will be invaluable assets as ATA pushes to reform regulations.

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By Eugene Mulero
Staff Reporter

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