With his company nearly idled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brian Scott turned his attention to helping others in need.
Using one of his empty motorcoaches to gather food for those who are struggling during these tough economic times seemed the right thing to do. Scott was surprised the decision ended up drawing positive attention to the plight of his Tampa-area company, Escot Bus Lines.
“There’s actually been an amazing outpouring of support. It’s been nice to be recognized for our contribution, but that’s not why we did it,” said Scott, president of the family-owned business started by his parents in 1983 as a shuttle service with a couple of minibuses.
Difficult time for Escot
In reporting about the food drive, a local TV news story pointed out that Escot Bus Lines is experiencing hardships as a result of the mass closures and cancellation of the remainder of the school year along with major events.
“We would mostly be doing school field trips,” Scott told the reporter. “We
have 72 vehicles and, of those 72, we have eight that are operating right now. It has been devastating to our business. March, April, and May are usually the busiest time of year for us. We have all these beautiful motorcoaches here with no passengers to carry.”
Scott credits his employees for coming up with the food drive idea and putting it into action — with his blessing. Nikki Stancil Jones, who is on the company’s sales team, suggested the food drive. She volunteers at a church where her brother is the pastor and saw first-hand that many of the youth weren’t getting enough to eat at home. Their families were impacted by the mass closures and record unemployment.
“We said, ‘Let’s do it. Let’s try to help the community. There’s obviously a need for it, and a lot of us aren’t really doing anything right now, so that’s good,” said Scott, who furloughed 130 of his 165 employees.
Ideal drop-off location
He put one of his Van Hool coaches in front of the company’s Largo office to gather donations of nonperishables. The 40-foot coach proved ideal for collecting food in a manner appropriate for social distancing. Items were left at the bus’ back ADA-accessible door.
The food drive ended on Good Friday with the bus being driven to collect donations at another drop-off point before taking everything to the church. The food will be distributed to families in need in time for the Easter holiday.
Scott says he hopes other organizations in the community will reach out to the company to put out a bus to support those in need during this difficult time.
History of giving back
He has a long history of giving back to the community and the industry by serving on numerous boards. Locally, he served on the board of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority for 6 years and is currently on the Forward Pinellas’ Citizens Advisory Committee and Local Coordinating Board. The latter oversees the Transportation Disadvantaged Program, which provides transportation assistance to economically and physically disadvantaged residents of Pinellas County.
He has had leadership roles in the Florida Motorcoach Association and served 18 years on the United Motorcoach Association board, including a term as chairman from 2005-07. He is also a member of the International Motorcoach Group board, where he also had a stint as chairman.
Scott is interested in finding new ways buses can make a difference during the pandemic.
“I don’t think this crisis is going away anytime soon, so my hope is that we can continue to help.”