Industry standouts recognized at Motorcoach Expo

SAN ANTONIO – Heartfelt tributes to the motorcoach industry’s best operators, drivers and mechanics was interlaced with hearty laughter during the UMA Motorcoach Expo’s annual Leadership Awards Celebration.

Funny motivational speaker Tim Gard added a new, refreshing and laugh-out-loud twist to a serious and celebratory event without diminishing the well-deserved honors for winners. He reminded the audience that it’s important to have fun in life and work.

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Many motorcoach representatives were recognized for their good work at the celebratory dinner event.

The Vision Award for a large fleet operator, running 15 or more coaches, went to Cardinal Buses Inc. of Middlebury, Ind.

Matt and Dan Shoup of Cardinal Buses Inc. of Middlebury, Ind., accept the Large Operator Vision Award from Dale Krapf, right, who was attending his last Expo as UMA board chair.

The Vision Award for a small fleet operator, running fewer than 15 coaches, went to Trobec’s Bus Service Inc. of Saint Stephen, Minn.

Tim Schubert of Trobec’s Bus Service Inc. of Saint Stephen, Minn., accepts the Small Operator Vision Award along with his daughter, Bethany.

The Green Highway Award from MCI went to Jack Wigley of All Aboard America! in Mesa, Ariz.

The grand champion of the UMA International Driver Competition was Barac Wimberly of Travel Lovers Tours & Cruises of St. Petersburg, Fla., who won $2,500. First and second runners-up, respectively, were Ted J. Dubbs of Krapf’s Coaches of West Chester, Pa., $1,000; and James Sencenbaugh of Daniel’s Charters of Lula, Ga., $500.

The winner of the UMA Maintenance Competition was Dave Meyerhofer of Kobussen Trailways in Kaukauna, Wis., who won $2,500. First and second runners-up, respectively, were Greg Lammers, Cavalier Coaches Inc. of Owatonna, Minn., $1,000; and Peter Haunold, Royal Highway Tours Inc., dba Holland America Princess Alaska, Fairbanks, $500.

The top mechanic, Meyerhofer, delivered one of the best lines of the evening not from Gard: “We’re not grease monkeys anymore; we’re technicians.” He also praised his company, where he’s been employed 29 years and hopes to finish his career.

Dan Shoup of Cardinal Buses, the Large Fleet Operator Vision Award winner, accepted the award with his brother, Matt.

Dan said that when he began getting more management responsibilities several years ago, he asked a very successful friend what he should do “to make this work,” and the friend said to hire people smarter than he is.

“I thought, ‘This will be easier than I thought,’ ” Shoup said to laughs.

“To make this work,” he tells also himself and his people: “No customer we have is required to take a bus trip. It’s all voluntary; we need to earn their business. When we accept their money for the payment, we’ve made a promise to them that we’re going to do what we said we’d do and we’re going to do our best to do it right and we really try to do that.”

He also tells his people that it’s OK to charge a fair price.

Tim Schubert, owner of Small Fleet Operator Vision Award winner Trobec’s, accepted the award with his daughter, Bethany, one of two who work in the business. The other is Becca.

“I’m so blessed that I can go to work every day with my daughters; this is truly a blessing,” he said, also thanking employees, business partners and others for helping make Trobec’s a success over 80 years.

“This night and this award will be in our hearts forever,” Schubert said, humbled by the honor.

Gladys Gillis of Starline Luxury Coaches in Seattle and UMA’s new board chair, recognized 34 drivers from 26 companies for meeting excellence-in-driving requirements. They represent 251 years of crash-free driving, she said.

Of those, four were recognized as master drivers for having 12 or more consecutive years of crash-free driving: Barac Wimberly of Travel Lovers Tours & Cruises of St. Petersburg, Fla., who won the driver competition; Patrick Levels of Echo Transportation of Grand Prairie, Texas; Harlequin Pipkins Jr., also of Echo Transportation; and Isiah Wilson Jr. of Atchison Transportation Services Inc. of Spartanburg, S.C.

Gillis said for too long the industry allowed one of its best assets, its professional drivers, “who are the backbone of our industry and probably spend more face time with our customers than anyone else in the organization,” to go unrecognized.

UMA changed that last year when it began annually recognizing its drivers with the first UMA International Driver Competition and Excellence in Driving recognition.

Other awards that were handed out during earlier Expo 2018 events:

  • Silverado Stages of San Luis Obispo, Calif., won the first annual Motorcoach Marketing Council Award, which was accepted for the company by marketing manager Cory Medigovich.
  • The Safety Leader of the Year Award went to Bob Crescenzo of Lancer Insurance.
  • The BUSRide Industry Achievement Award from BUSRide Magazine went to Daisy Charters & Shuttles of San Antonio and was accepted by company CEO June Bratcher.
  • Metro Magazine’s Motorcoach Operator of the Year Award went to Holiday Tours Inc., which is run by UMA board member David Moody and his brother, Jonathan.

The motivational speaker, Gard, a member of the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame, brought out prop after clever prop to entertain the audience, sharing the positive powers of laughter on people.

One prop included a pair of rubber chicken feet hanging out of his suitcase, which he said keeps his bag unbothered in overhead bins. He also donned “Don’t bug me” glasses – complete with large compound insect eyes and antennae – people can wear when they don’t want to be bothered.

He brought extra props to share with attendees eager to try his brand of humor.

“Folks, we can have fun when we do this job, can’t we?” Gard said, also urging listeners to talk with people, not at them.

“Make this your policy to have fun,” he said.

“When you look at your coming year and all the challenges that are out there, I want you to have fun, too; UMA wants you to have fun,” Gard said. “We want to be able to laugh at the things we can to be able to be serious about the things we have to. Laughter becomes you if you let it.”

One of Gard’s props included a mock credit card he likes to hand to unsuspecting hotel desk clerks when they ask for a major credit card and some other form of identification, with one side reading “This is a Major Credit Card,” and on the flip side, “Here is some other form of identification.” It’s a way to lighten the typically mundane travel moment for both sides.

See you at UMA Expo next year in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and remember to bring a major credit card and some other form of ID.

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