Grassroots and operator relationships: Keys to CERTS program success

Operators on this week’s UMA Town Hall expressed gratitude for the CERTS program and relief that companies are seeing deposits into their accounts.

UMA Chairman Jeff Polzien said, “CERTS didn’t happen by chance; we’ve got a united industry to thank. You all sent over 100,000 emails to legislators and beyond what we were tracking through UMA’s Phone to Action campaign, there were so many others making communication efforts.” 

Senator Susan Collins

He called out the incredible contributions of state and regional associations and vendor partners for their support. “All of those things have culminated in making this a successful effort.”

UMA Legislative and Regulatory Committee Chair Alan Thrasher recounted the ways operators worked together on CERTS.

“The true secret was . . . the owners, the operators. All you guys on this call right now; truly were what made it happen, mobilizing our industry like it’s never been done before,” said Thrasher, co-owner of Thrasher Brothers Trailways in Birmingham, Alabama. 

“I never imagined myself being a legislative activist,” said John Grzywacz of CIT Signature Transportation in Ames, Iowa, describing his awakening to the power of using his voice in the political process. “I figured it out by going to the fly-in. It opened my eyes.” 

Now, he is regularly in touch with his legislators and sends their offices whitepapers with information about how their business is doing. “Guys, we are not done with this,” Grzywacz said. “I am all in on this grassroots effort. Continue to build that relationship,” he urged.

Senator Jack Reed

Larry Killingsworth invited Jason Briggs of Portland, Maine-based VIP Tour and Charter Bus Company and Tom McCaughey of Flagship Trailways in Cranston, Rhode Island to reflect on how the CERTS program was conceived. Both operators were instrumental to the program’s inception due to their strong relationships and early work with their U.S. Senators, Susan Collins and Jack Reed.

“We are fortunate to know our Senators and legislators well,” Briggs said in explaining how Maine motorcoach operators, all six of them, were able to count on Sen. Collins of Maine to go to bat for them by co-sponsoring the CERTS Act with Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

 “Conventional programs aren’t going to work,” McCaughey recalled telling Sen. Reed early on. Prior to the creation of PPP, he said he knew that programs like EIDL were not the solution. “There was no way we could borrow our way out of this. We needed real help.” 

And now operators are finally getting that help thanks to the teamwork of so many across the industry. 

 “It’s really a great story,” McCaughey said. “Two Senators from New England, from opposing political parties can work together. Wouldn’t it be nice if that was more common than it is?”


1,300 companies receiving CERTS relief, says Senator Collins

Share this post