The Expedite Expo 21 opened on July 16 at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind., as one of the first in-person trucking events in the U.S. since the COVID lockdowns began last March.

“For twenty years, the Expedite Expo has been a marketplace for the entire expedite industry – exhibitors, carriers, owners, and drivers – to come together, network, and grow,” Monte Stetler, president of On Time Media (the producers of Expedite Expo), said. “After all, most great ideas begin with a conversation. And, after a year set back by the pandemic, we were finally able to get together again and start having those valuable interactions and conversations that will fuel the industry’s growth for many years to come.”

The show’s presenting sponsor was Expediter Services. And about a thousand drivers, owner-operators, and fleet owners from across North America came to Fort Wayne to meet new people, learn from successful expedite professionals, and find new business opportunities.

If you weren’t able to make the two-day event, here are some of the highlights from Expedite Expo 21.

On both days of the Expo, from 8:30 am to 11:00 am, successful expediters and industry experts led education sessions on topics such as:

  • “Sprint Your Way into the Biz”: Donna Chambers with Landstar led a discussion on load management strategies and how to determine whether the “van life” is right for you.
  • “How to Succeed in Expediting”: Jackie Rocha and Mike Barclay with Millennials in Trucks shared their experiences on how they got started in the industry a few years ago and have since become fleet owners.
  • “Practical Solutions to Improve your Business”: Jerry Hayes, an industry veteran and the publisher of National Truckin’ Magazine, shared his “keys to success” in trucking in his general session.
  • “Ask the Experts – Young, Middle and Old School”: A panel of industry professionals headlined by Frank Rebelo with Hyfield Trucking and Jackie Rocha and Mike Barclay with Millennials in Trucking talked about a wide range of topics, including the fundamentals of starting and running an expedite business, the importance of good mentorship, and how much cash you should have in reserves before starting.
  • “Conversations with Recruiters on Getting into the Industry”: Ron Martin and Clare Theriault with Tenpoint Expedite and Don Van de Laar with Landstar shared advice on what to expect with the expedite lifestyle to ensure it’s right for you.
  • “Got Claims? Get Paid Money for Your Downtime!”: Attorney Kelsea Eckert with Eckert & Associates P.A. talked about how to boost recoveries on not-at-fault accidents and mechanical negligence claims.

Industry Panel: The State of Expedited Trucking – and How You Can Capitalize on this Market
The 10 am special event on Day Two on “The State of Expedited Trucking – and How You Can Capitalize on this Market” was moderated by yours truly and featured industry experts John Elliott with Load One LLC, Ellen Voie with Women in Trucking, and Marilyn Surber with Tenstreet.

We had a packed house of owner-operators, drivers, fleet owners, and folks completely new to the industry, where we had a fascinating conversation on:

  • The current state of expediting – and the trucking industry at-large
  • The regulatory landscape and the potential impact on owner-operators, drivers, and fleet owners
  • The aging workforce in expediting, and the pipeline challenges with recruiting young drivers
  • The emergence of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives in trucking to expand opportunities in the industry
  • The top trends to watch over the next 12, 18, and 24 months
  • The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and the potential fallout for the expedited trucking business model should the bill pass.

Be on the lookout for a recap article that I’m writing for our sister publication that highlights the significant trends and ideas discussed during this panel. You won’t want to miss it!

The networking lunch roundtable sessions for both days allowed attendees to meet with other expediters to network and discuss specific topics, such as:

  • Driving cargo vans
  • Driving straight trucks
  • Handling pets in the truck
  • How to work with fleet owners
  • Truck and van maintenance
  • Best apps to use
  • Cutting fuel costs.

Expo attendees got to check out the latest trucks and custom sleepers, with opportunities to get their questions answered by experts from Expediter Services (the Expedite Expo 2021 Presenting Sponsor), Stoops Freightliner-Quality Trailer, Fyda Freightliner, and Bolt Custom Trucks.

The exhibit hall also enabled prospective owner-operators to meet directly with recruiters from a wide range of carriers—including Load One, Panther Premium Logistics, Landstar, Tri-State Expedited, FedEx Ground, among several others—to find the best fit for their business and lifestyle goals.

And attendees who weren’t ready to buy their own truck but still wanted to learn more about the business could meet with fleet owners looking to hire good, dependable drivers to operate their vehicles.

Bingo Night
But the Expo wasn’t all business; there were also plenty of opportunities to kick back and have fun.

Traditionally, the Expo would feature Casino Night. But to allow for more social distancing, the Expedite Expo event team switched things up this year with Bingo Night.

“Some people were skeptical [about Bingo Night] going in, but it was a great evening of fun with over $5,000 of prizes that our fantastic exhibitors donated! If you were there, you know the Bingo Lady made the night,” Expedite Expo’s event manager Kristy Lohre said.

The Bottom Line
Expedite Expo has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2001 in the parking lot at The Detroiter in Woodhaven, Michigan.

“The Expedite Expo could not happen without our sponsors and exhibitors,” Stetler said. “It’s because of their support that we can offer valuable educational, networking, and business opportunities for the entire expedited trucking community. We look forward to seeing everyone again in 2022!”

Save the Date
The next Expedite Expo will be held July 15 and 16, 2022, at Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Ind. We look forward to seeing you there!