TMSA Profile: Tom Collins, Outgoing TMSA President and Senior Director of Marketing, Saddle Creek Logistics Services

TMSA Profile: Tom Collins, Outgoing TMSA President and Senior Director of Marketing, Saddle Creek Logistics Services

Written by: Jennifer Karpus-Romain, Executive Director of TMSA

When Tom Collins, Senior Director of Marketing, Saddle Creek Logistics Services, began his term as President of TMSA three years ago, he had no idea that he would be serving TMSA through a worldwide pandemic and leading the association through a management change. (Note, the TMSA Executive Board typically serves a two-year term, but graciously agreed to stay on an extra year due to the COVID pandemic.)

There has been a lot of change over the past three years within TMSA, and the industry at large, and Tom Collins was here at the helm through it all.

With Mark Derks, CMO at BlueGrace Logistics, being voted in as the new Board President during the 2022 TMSA Annual Conference in June, Tom moves into the Chairman role.

It has been an honor serving with Tom both as a past board member, and as the current Executive Director of TMSA.

As we all settle into our regular lives post-TMSA conference, I thought it was the perfect time to sit down with Tom and gain perspective over his time with TMSA.

JKR: First things first. When did you first join TMSA and the transportation/logistics industry as a whole?

TC: I first joined the logistics industry in 1995 when I took a marketing job with Roadway Express in Akron, OH. I did not join the TMSA until much later in 2008 when I first came to Saddle Creek Logistics.  At that time it was known as the TMCA (Transportation Marketing and Communication Association).  We added the ‘S’ for sales a couple years after I joined when another industry association, that was focused more on sales, disbanded.

JKR: What is one thing you'd tell yourself about the industry if you could send a message back to your younger self when you started in the industry? 

TC: Spend as much time as possible engaging in the sales process and interacting directly with customers. As a marketer in this industry, there is no substitute for that direct interaction when it comes to understanding how to reach and impact your audience.

JKR: You served as president of TMSA for three years and we are so appreciative of your time. What are some of your biggest takeaways from your time as president?

TC: Well, we went through some pretty rough times with COVID messing up our conference schedule (and our cash flow) and then the transition from our management company to our fantastic new Executive Director. Yet, I believe we came out the other side a better, stronger association.

I would say I was most amazed at the sheer desire of the membership and its leaders to persevere. We had to come up with new ways to add value for our members outside of the annual conferences and we had to do it quickly. The way people stepped up and contributed their time and talents during that period was amazing. I think that sort of dedication could only come from individuals with a love of the association and the desire to see it not only survive, but improve.

JKR: Luckily for us, you don't get to go too far away as you are now the Chairman of the Board. Do you have any specific goals you want to discuss for this position? 

TC: I am so glad that I get to continue being part of the leadership of TMSA because it’s an exciting time in the association. We have a lot of great momentum going and there is this infusion of youth and energy that I just love to see. I think under your direction and Mark’s leadership as President, the sky is the limit for TMSA.

Specifically, though, as Chairman I hope to take a deep dive into our governance policies. With new leadership and better structure around our committees and the work they do, it is important that we understand and adopt policies and procedures that will guide us through the exciting times to come.  

JKR: There has been so much change over the past few years. What are you most surprised by?

TC: I don’t know if I would say surprised, but I am certainly the most pleased by the way the membership has embraced the changes that have been made. I suppose that shouldn’t be a surprise because the changes are a direct result of listening to what members are saying. But it is still great to see new members joining, conference and webinar attendance growing, and an expanded number of affiliate members with great new solutions for our industry/ It’s all just amazing to see. 

JKR: Thank you so much for your time today. Any last thoughts?

TC: I have said it before, but it bears repeating, the members of TMSA are TMSA. There are currently only two paid employees of the association. The conferences and other educational opportunities, the promotion of the association, the growth in membership, the recognition program, all those things are planned and executed by TMSA members.

As great as things are going for us right now, we are looking at some potentially rough economic times ahead. We are going to need as many engaged members as we can get on board to sustain us.  So, if you haven’t gotten involved yet, please consider how you could contribute to the success of your association.

If you are looking to get more involved with TMSA, please contact [email protected].

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