The National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM) plans a marketing campaign to educate consumers about the NATM safety sticker that indicates that a trailer meets federal safety requirements.
“This is the first year that we will be doing it,” confirms Pam O’Toole, executive director of the 850-member organization headquartered in Topeka, Kan. “We want consumers to know they should buy a trailer with an NATM compliance decal on it.”
Among a number of changes afoot right now, NATM’s board recently approved $75,000 for the marketing program that will begin in 2007 and consist of posters and displays for trailer dealerships and brochures that can be given to consumers.
Meanwhile, the trade group’s nine-member staff in August moved into a 3,800-square-foot building two blocks south of the Kansas state capitol that the association recently purchased. “We had outgrown the space we were in since we more than doubled our staff since 2002,” O’Toole said.
Looking ahead, NATM expects as many as 1,500 people to attend its annual convention Jan. 29 to Feb. 2 at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Fla. Former Space Shuttle astronaut Mike Mullane will be the featured speaker. Among the workshops will be sessions on quality and lean manufacturing, painting processes, brake and tire ratings, franchise laws, safety training and the NATM certification and compliance program.
Founded in 1987, NATM originally represented livestock and horse trailer dealers and manufacturers, but has expanded to include trailer builders in general, including cargo, utility, car-hauling, equestrian and conventional RV trailers in some cases.
NATM’s membership, in turn, has grown substantially from fewer than 200 in 1998 to 850, having increased its exposure in the RV industry two years ago when it joined the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) in the Trailer Safety Industry Coalition (TSIC), established to forestall further trailer safety regulation by the federal government.
O’Toole said that hundreds of new trailer manufacturing concerns — many of
them small startups or companies that have decided to make their own units — register each year with the Society of Automotive Engineers. Many want NATM’s compliance officers to do inspections for them so they know that they are doing everything according to regulations, she said.
One of two NATM compliance officers inspects manufacturer-members on a voluntary basis every two years to ensure that they are meeting the requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. And NATM issues stickers that cost 75 cents for each trailer to which they are affixed. Approximately one million NATM stickers were sold between 2002 and 2005.