After nearly 14 years at the helm, Bill Graves announced Friday that he will step down as president and Chief Executive of the American Trucking Associations on July 9.
He will be replaced by Chris Spear, who served as the former senior vice president of legislative affairs for the ATA from May 2014 to October 2015, when he became vice president of government affairs at Hyundai Motor Co.
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to lead this great association and serve this vital industry,” Spear said Friday. “Trucking is the backbone of our economy and a catalyst for American job growth, delivering critical goods to businesses and homes coast-to coast.”
The trade group tapped a political veteran for the job as its top lobbyist.
Spear is a former vice president of global government relations at Honeywell International. He served as an assistant secretary of labor in the George W. Bush administration. Spear also worked on the staff of three senators, including Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.)
He holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of Wyoming.
“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, who is also senior vice president of state government affairs at UPS.
A search committee, headed by former ATA Chairman Phil Byrd, was formed in October 2015 after Graves, a two-term Kansas governor said he would serve one more year as ATA chief. His contract expires in December.
Under Graves’ leadership, the ATA pushed for restricting the speed limit for big-rigs to 65 mph by requiring speed limiters. He supported the mandatory use of truck-based electronic logs to track truckers’ compliance with federal Hours of Service rules. Graves also supported the establishment of a national clearinghouse for drug and alcohol testing. He pushed for automatic emergency braking systems to be put on trucks.
During his tenure, the ATA opposed tolling and public-private partnerships. He urged the use of higher fuel taxes through user fees as a way to pay for the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
“It’s been my honor to lead ATA as President and CEO for almost 14 years,” Graves said. “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.”
Graves will stay as an ATA advisor until the end of 2016.