The Tennessee Motor Coach Association is taking a full-court press approach to spotlighting the plight of the industry and lobbying for the CERTS Act.
Not only are members organizing meetings with their elected leaders, but they are making videos to tell the industry’s story, one operator at a time. Their campaign to enlist the support of Kid Rock and other entertainers has generated hundreds of letters of support for the CERTS Act.
“We finally just said, ‘We’ve got to do something, and whatever opportunity we get, we’re going to try to make something happen,” said Jared Stancil, owner of Anchor Transportation in Nashville and TNMCA member.
Stancil, who spoke about the TNMCA’s efforts during the Sept. 10 UMA Town Hall session, shared how the group has partnered with Trisha Fridrich of The L&W Team, which provides tech tools to benefit transportation companies. Fridrich is contacting all of Tennessee’s U.S. senators and representatives, asking for a conference call.
“What we find is, if we can just tell our story, they want to listen,” Stancil said. “Then they’ll ask the questions, and so often they don’t know our story, and they don’t understand why the programs that Congress already put in place didn’t work.”
He has participated in about eight of the conference calls.
Understanding the TNMCA may not be able to have meetings with every official, the organization began a video campaign.
Stancil added that the TNMCA has partnered with Ryan Kelly of Terrapin Blue to create videos where each member of the state association tells their story.
“They’re able to share that with their customers and send it to their local congressman and senator, saying, ‘Here’s my story.’ It’s just more compelling where they can see the buses and they can hear what’s happening in the motorcoach industry,” Stancil said.
The TNMCA recently had well-attended meetings with Rep. John Rose and Bill Hagerty, who is running for the seat currently held by retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander. Rose and Rep. Steve Cohen have signed on as a co-sponsor, and Hagerty has pledged his support if elected.
“I think what the Tennessee Motorcoach Association has done has been pretty amazing,” said Mark Szyperski, owner of On Your Mark Transportation, adding that the meeting with Rose drew 60 people and the nearly 100 people attended the meeting with Hagerty. Many traveled from outside the state. Because Tennessee borders so many states, their membership draws from beyond Tennessee.
Joey Mills, co-owner of Gentry Bus in Knoxville, says the effort has unified operators across the state.
“I think the camaraderie amongst the group has been good for everybody,” Mills said. “It’s kept us all a little sane to be able to talk and to be able to be in the same place together and so forth. That’s been very helpful.”