Ethics Has Always Been a Cornerstone of TIA

Robert Voltmann
President & CEO
Transportation Intermediaries Association

One of the hallmarks of being a TIA member is your commitment to ethics. TIA has one of the only codes of ethics in the transportation industry. It means that the TIA logo is earned, never given. Occasionally, however, disputes arise – that’s why we have an Ethics Committee. An article in this issue of 3PL Perspectives is a decision by the TIA Board of Directors affirming a decision of the Ethics Committee arising from a dispute between two members.

The Ethics Committee is comprised of seven TIA members who donate their time to help members in disputes. By tradition, four of the members are from asset-based companies. The idea behind this ratio was to avoid any broker versus carrier bias. The original purpose of the Code of Ethics and the Ethics Committee, when the Association was being formed, was to differentiate members in the marketplace and give carriers security in taking loads from TIA members. It worked. Today, TIA members, while only representing about 12 percent of the market by number, represent more than 70 percent of the market by value. You have differentiated yourselves and built an industry. And, just like our founders set the stage for growth with the formation of an Association and the adoption of the Code of Ethics, you continue to lead the way with innovation and investment in people and technology.

Yet, despite your continued success, and regardless of size, the commitment to ethics and ethical behavior in the marketplace is part of your DNA. It really is what sets you apart.

In fact, the Committee has not received a complaint by a motor carrier alleging non-payment by a TIA member in several years. Today, the Committee deals mostly with carriers seeking TIA Watchdog® complaints against them removed – a clear indication that TIA Watchdog® works. The most difficult cases for the Committee to address are those that involve two members. Because you take ethics to heart, any violation or perceived violation by another member is very troubling. The Ethics Committee understands this since they are also TIA members.

The Committee is neither a court nor an arbitration system, but instead looks at both sides and tries to call balls and strikes. Their purpose is to help members by developing, or pointing out, best practices. The Committee has the right to recommend to the TIA Board that a member in violation of the Code of Ethics be expelled from membership, but the Committee sees its role as helping members do the right thing, not punishing them. The Committee has banned companies from membership over mismanagement and non-payment issues, but thankfully these are very rare occurrences.

TIA is unique for many reasons, but all stem from you; from 14 original members in 1978 to more than 1,700 today; from hanging out in truck stops to multi-billion dollar, publicly-traded companies. You have created a dynamic and growing industry by maintaining the highest commitment to service, innovation, and ethics. This year we celebrate 40 years. Thank you for your best wishes.