From its inception, the ECA’s mission has been awareness, collaboration, and service. The goal? Boosting shippers’ engagement with local and regional carriers, ultimately to the benefit of consumers.
Forerunners to ECA, A Delivery Industry Alliance were the Film, Air, and Package Carriers Conference (FAPCC), a division of the American Trucking Association; and the subsequent American Package Express Carrier Association (APECA), which the prior FAPCC formed through the 1969 Package Carriers Committee initiative completed in 1975. As has happened multiple times in our industry, the diminished need for film carrier services from the 1930’s spurred the adaptation to a more generalized package express business model.
Eventually what was an early version of the ECA MarketPlace was held in 1982 as a Shipper-Carrier Forum held in New York City in at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. In that meeting one of the early founders of the concept, Bruce M. Brown, delivered a speech advocating for the Forum and presenting some of the earlier history.
A 1983 article in Transport Topics states that “In 1969 at the time of the merger of the film carrier and air freight carrier trade associations, and the formation of the umbrella organization, the film carriers observed that they were handling more and more package express shipments and saw the need for a national forum for this type of carrier. The group was originally called the Package Carrier Committee of FAPCC. This group acquired several members from the American Parcel Association in 1974, and it was felt in view of the increase in members and the expanding interests of the membership, that an official trade association should be formed. In 1975, a new trade association called the American Package Express Carriers Association was formed.
The members of the association specialize in the handling of small shipments weighing from one pound up to 200 pounds. These companies employ the most up-to-date methods of handling the very small shipment using both small panel and step van trucks for delivery, extensive mechanical conveyor equipment in their terminals, and simplified billing procedures. Through this specialization, the package express carrier and messenger/courier can handle these small shipments in an efficient and economical manner.”
In June of 1991, the status of express and light LTL shipments evolved, and the name was shortened to Express Carriers Association. At that time there was 10 member companies. Meetings were held in the spring and fall through the next four years.
The 1995-1996 Service Directory outlined the Mission of ECA as “assisting the carriers to take advantage of new trends and assisting the shipper in using these carriers. The Association builds awareness of the alternate carrier industry, the viable alternative to the regular common carrier. The ECA mission is also to provide education and programming. This will enhance the member service to the shipper and encourages the trend to flexible companies offering advanced communications and logistics services.”
No meetings were held in 1996.
A re-organization meeting was held in early January 1997. According to minutes of the meeting, the attendees were:
Larry Davis, Intercities Courier, Omaha, NE
Jim Pryor, Amway Corporation, Norcross, GA
John Storm, Eagle Delivery Services, Weymouth, MA
Brad Westrom, United Express System Aurora, IL
Scott & Cheryle Williamson, Interstate Courier Express, Whitehall, PA
Harley Bernstein, Excel Trans. Services, Sterling, VA
Paul Anderson, Professional Delivery Systems, Richmond, VA
Jim Isaacson, Roadrunner Trans. Inc., St. Paul, MN
Donna Logsdon, Logistics Link, San Mateo, CA
Dave Reichbaum, Primetime Delivery, Cleveland, OH
Jack Reichbaum, Primetime Delivery, Cleveland, OH
Don Weeres, Spee Dee Delivery, St. Cloud, MN
Michael Brooks, CD & L Inc., Miami, FL
Harry Brooks, CD & L Inc., Miami, FL
Robert Halkyard, Current Carrier, Pawtucket, RI
The stated purpose of the 1997 meeting was:
- Revitalize the association.
- Establish a new slate of officers.
- Examine the existing mission statement.
- Establish new by-laws.
- Put the organization on a positive financial path.
- Prepare for a Shipper/Carrier meeting in Kansas City in April 1997.
A site selection team comprised of future ECA President Carrie Ehlers and her husband Scott Ehlers, then newly elected President Larry Davis, and John Storm traveled to Kansas City. Undaunted by the fact that the association lacked funds, they found a property that was inexpensive, available on short notice, and would extend the ECA credit. While on that trip, John Storm and Carrie Ehlers drafted the first ECA logo on a cocktail napkin. Kansas City was chosen for Marketplace 1997, because it was in the middle of the country and relatively easy for travel purposes.
The post-1997 ECA and annual MarketPlace was off and running. For this reason, the Alliance’s 25th anniversary was celebrated in 2022. MarketPlaces have been held every year since the 1997 re-organization. Every MarketPlace but one has occurred each April. The 2020 pandemic resulted in cancellation of the live event that year, and a virtual MarketPlace was held in the fall of 2020. The 2021 event was held in October due to a spring resurgence of the virus. The 2022 event resumed the April cadence.
The ECA Board of Directors initiated a re-branding effort in 2019. Led by then President Jim Luciani, a re-branding committee comprised of several board members and members-at-large worked on the project through the summer and fall of that year into 2020. The new brand – ECA, A Delivery Industry Alliance- was launched in 2021. The new branding reflected the changes in our industry, the transitioned nature of our carrier members’ businesses, and the inter-dependency of shippers, carriers, and their service providers. The committee concluded that “ECA” had brand value and recognition; and that “A Delivery Industry Alliance” more resolutely stated what the ECA truly is at present era – an alliance of shippers, carriers, and valued providers of services to the industry as we deliver products and contribute to the engines of commerce in our great country.
The brand communicates that we carefully match members with the partners and collaborators who are best positioned to help each other grow their businesses. It amplifies the concept that the ECA, A Delivery Industry Alliance is about making deeper business connections than can be gained by just networking at a conference. It portrays that we are the welcoming, unpretentious, caring industry association that understands how business really gets done: face-to-face and one-on-one.
The interlocking letters “ECA” exemplifies the connectivity, collaboration, and matching of shared business interests.
Recognizing the growing impact and importance of women leaders, business owners, work associates, and drivers in the industry the ECA Board commissioned a study group in 2021 to explore the establishment of a Women’s Committee for the Alliance. The group’s report led to the Board’s approval of the new committee and the resultant initiatives established since, generating the ECA’s outreach and engagement activities recognizing the rapidly increasing influence of women in our industry. These include the Women’s Networking Event held at the 2022 and 2023 MarketPlace shows and virtual sessions hosted by the Women’s Committee covering topics of interest on our Tradewing community platform, among others.
Recognizing an opportunity to build on the momentum generated by the 2023 MarketPlace, the ECA Board commissioned a Business Development Committee in June of 2023. The committee is charged with developing strategy and tactics to grow membership (carriers, shippers, and vendors), MarketPlace participation, the quality of MarketPlace meetings and networking events, and chart the mid- to long-term course and growth of the Alliance.
Today, the ECA, A Delivery Industry Alliance is entering its second quarter century of serving it constituencies, and the future looks ever brighter. The 2023 MarketPlace in San Antonio set records for attendance and meetings. We are looking to be front and center, ready to serve, in a time where the demand for local and regional carriers has never been stronger.