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COVER STORY 75 Years an The more things change, the more they stay the same as Mon


BY STEVE BRAWNER ContributingWriter


Barry “Spook” Stang has been involved


in trucking for almost three decades – first as a legislator from 1986 until 2000, and since then as executive vice president of the Motor Carriers of Montana.While the years have passed, the industry’s concerns – taxes, regulations, highways – haven’t changed that much. “It’s interesting. You look back, the issues


they were talking about back then are the same issues we’re talking about now,” he said. Stang might say the same thing if he were


old enough to be involved in the association since its inception – but then, that would be pretty old. This August, the Motor Carriers of


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Montana turned 75. What was then called the Montana Motor


Transport Association was established in August 1939 during a meeting at theNorthern Hotel in Billings. Carriers from across the state were present, along with the president of the American Trucking Associations. A committee was established to draft bylaws, and a voluntary subscription fund was raised among the operators to start an association office in the Electric Building.GaleWhitney, a petroleum carrier in Billings, was the association’s first president.He was followed by Earl Moritz of Lewistown, Evan Reely of Missoula, and John McLaughlin, who also served as mayor ofGreat Falls. During its first decade, the membership


increased until all large carriers and many smallers ones were represented, along with many other associate members. A monthly bulletin was published, and the MMTA organized safety, legislative, and driver of the month programs. At the begnning of the 1940s, the assocation led annual Truck Roadeos, with the winners competing nationally. Except for 1945, a convention was held every year during the association’s first decade. Roadwise was first published in 1949. In 1951, the MMTA incorporated in


Montana and hired Leonard Eckel as its executive. He would remain with the association 28 years though 1979. Dick Irvin, founder of Dick Irvin Inc., said Eckel knew his way around Helena. “Leonard, he had a way


ROADWISE | ISSUE 4, 2014 | www.mttrucking.org


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