Maine operator glad to be fully vaccinated in time for EXPO

As the Maine saying goes, you can’t keep those Mainers down. 

Lana Sawyer, Director of Operations at VIP Tour & Charter Bus Co. in Portland, Maine, is on medical leave, recovering from a heart attack.

But with her two doses of COVID-19 vaccine scheduled to be completed in early April, she is making plans to be at the UMA Motorcoach EXPO from April 21-25.

Looking forward to the reunion

She and her husband, Norman, who just completed his vaccines, are looking forward to basking in the warm Orlando sunshine and catching up with their industry friends.

Norman and Lana Sawyer at previous UMA Motorcoach EXPO.

“UMA is turning 50, I want to be there for the reunion,” said Sawyer, who a few weeks ago worried she wouldn’t be able to go because of underlying health conditions. She was thrilled to get the call about the availability of COVID-19 vaccinations.

“I was very nervous but with Norman and I getting our vaccines, we are all set to go. We have our guards up,” Sawyer said.

‘We’ve gone every year’

President Pat Penfold will stay behind in Maine to manage the operation with Jason Briggs, Vice President of Business Development. 

“We’re 35 years into the business, and we’ve gone every year. It’s great to see everyone there, and the manufacturers and exhibitors, and just being a part of everything that goes on. We’re all a part of the bus industry and a great family,” Sawyer said. 

Wayne Smith giving Ray Penfold the McRell safety award at the 1991 EXPO. They are standing next to Penfold’s daughter, Lana Sawyer, and her husband Norman Sawyer.

She credits UMA — which began as United Bus Owners Association — for helping her late dad, Ray Penfold, launch the business. 

“UBOA President Wayne Smith was a big help getting our company started. My dad talked to him a lot, I remember,” Sawyer said.

UMA provides crucial support

She added that UMA continues to provide crucial support for the family-owned business.

Sawyer says she has found low-fare flights to Orlando and, with deals on hotel rooms through UMA, the trip will be affordable. She is looking forward to all of the EXPO educational sessions and seeing how a world-class tourism destination like Orlando had made changes in response to the pandemic to better serve visitors. 

“I’m feeling really good about the way things seem to be opening up,” said Sawyer. “We’re getting some requests for the latter part of the year, especially for weddings.”


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