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Former NASSTRAC head passes away

Shippers lose a giant and keen organizational mind; Joe Cutrona, former NASSTRAC executive, dies at 92
By John D. Schulz, Contributing Editor
January 11, 2011

Shippers lost a powerful representative when Joseph F. H. Cutrona, former executive director of NASSTRAC (the National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council) from 1978-1998, died Christmas Day 2010 at his home in Naples, Fla. Cutrona was 92.

A West Point graduate and former career military officer who served in three wars before retiring as a brigadier general, Cutrona embarked on a second career during a tumultuous time as well. Because of his military training and experience, organization abilities and people-to-people skills, Cutrona made a powerful impact during his second career as well.
Cutrona was well known to shippers during a time when the trucking industry was evolving from a heavily regulated period to today’s economically deregulated period. That began with the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, which changed the way shippers dealt with their carriers and changed the lobbying landscape in Washington.
During Cutrona’s tenure with NASSTRAC, he worked diligently on many issues, including those raised by motor carrier deregulation in 1980s and the undercharge epidemic. NASSTRAC played a key role by setting up defense groups to challenge undercharge claims and by helping enact the Negotiated Rates Act of 1993. The two decades of Cutrona’s service were key years of transition, in which NASSTRAC moved from adversary to a role as ally of carriers and other service providers.
Prior to joining the management team of NASSTRAC, Cutrona attended West Point and became a career Army officer serving in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam, where he was the Chief Information Officer before retiring as a Brigadier General.
“Because of his military career, he was highly organized,” John Cutler, NASSTRAC’s longtime general counsel, told LM. “Before I ever met Joe, he was a top information officer in the Army. He was familiar with and got along well with the media. He was able to present NASSTRAC’s positions very clearly and in a very disciplined and well-understood manner.”
Known for wearing his trademark red socks, Cutrona often would visit offices of the transportation press always armed with information packets, background materials—and a joke or two. His easy-going nature belied his well-organized mind. Even hardened Washington journalists found it difficult to say no to Cutrona—and often were rewarded with industry scoops as a result of his tips.
“Joe was an excellent director for NASSTRAC during an important transition period from era off pervasive regulation to the undercharge mess to the economically deregulated era,” Cutler recalled. “Today there are many issues where carriers and shippers agree—health, safety, environment, security issues. Those are front and center for shippers and carriers, all of us. Joe was important part of shift in NASSTRAC’s focus.

A 1944 graduate of West Point, Cutrona served with distinction in World War II, the Korean conflict and the Vietnam war. During the first two conflicts, he was in the artillery. He was promoted to information officer during the Vietnam conflict.
Upon his retirement from NASSTRAC, Cutrona settled in Naples, Fla., site of many NASSTRAC meetings where he would often renew many acquaintances and share a story or two. He is survived by his longtime wife, Alice, and many children and grandchildren.

About the Author

John D. Schulz
Contributing Editor

John D. Schulz has been a transportation journalist for more than 20 years, specializing in the trucking industry. He is known to own the fattest Rolodex in the business, and is on a first-name basis with scores of top-level trucking executives who are able to give shippers their latest insights on the industry on a regular basis. This wise Washington owl has performed and produced at some of the highest levels of journalism in his 40-year career, mostly as a Washington newsman.

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