When the Midwest Bus & Motorcoach Association was formed in 2011, the founding members were operators in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Missouri. Since then, operators from Kansas, Ohio, Wisconsin and North Dakota have joined.
The regional association has created a network of operators who can help each other out when they run into difficulties on the road in the Midwest, said Dennis Streif. The co-owner of Vandalia Bus Lines in Caseyville, Illinois, with his siblings — Dale and Melissa — and son, Phil, played a key role in starting the organization.
“We could get some face time once a year for a couple of days to get to know people and the more we get to know them, they become our brothers and sisters in business,” Streif said.
Streif was one of several founding members the organization honored at its recent annual meeting and convention in marking the group’s 10th anniversary. The gathering on July 21-22 in Elkhart, Indiana drew 70 people. Each was given a padfolio commemorating their role as a founding member.
Founding current members who were present at the Convention were recognized:
- ABC Companies, Minnesota
- American Bus Association, Washington, D.C.
- Budget Truck & Auto, Inc, Wisconsin
- Cardinal Buses, Indiana
- Coach Quarters, Ohio
- Compass Coach Inc., Michigan
- Huskey Trailways, Missouri
- Lancer Insurance Company, Ohio
- Motor Coach Industries, Illinois
- National Interstate, Ohio
- Southwestern Illinois Bus Co LLC, Illinois
- Tom Bazow, Indiana
- Transportation Insurance Brokers, Minnesota
- United Motorcoach Association, Washington, D.C.
- USA Tours, Missouri
- Vandalia Bus Lines Inc, Illinois
- Windstar Lines, Inc., Iowa
Streif would like to see the MBMCA continue to grow its member ranks. The organization is working with its vendor members to help spread the word to their Midwest clients about the many benefits of the organization.
The organization’s annual convention and trade show provides various education sessions, including state and federal regulation updates. Its Bus Roadeo competition is held every other year, with the winner sent to compete in the National Driving Competition at the UMA Motorcoach EXPO. MBMCA is also involved in local and national advocacy on behalf of its membership.
Founding member’s ‘driving forces’
Streif now serves as vice president on the MBMCA board and is in line to become the next president. It’s a position he’s never held despite his work to establish the organization.
“I didn’t want to take that role because of being instrumental in trying to get it going. I didn’t want to say, ‘Well, I want to be the president too.’ I felt like somebody else should lead it,” Streif said.
“It’s an organization about our industry. Promoting and getting going is one of my driving forces.”
At the meeting, the following were elected to the board 2021-2024: Ryan Cupp, Blue Lakes Charters & Tours, Michigan; David James, BRT Charter Service, Ohio; Greg Lucchese, Cardinal Buses/GO Riteway, Indiana; Dolores Emerson, Windstar Lines, Iowa/Illinois; and Ryan Angell, Temsa, Minnesota.
Streif attributes the organization’s decade of success to the behind-the-scenes work of its first and current Executive Director Cherie Hime.
“She puts the convention together, the giveaways, posters and rounds up the sponsors,” said Streif. “There’s a bit of work to get it together.”
Hime says she appreciates the “good camaraderie” within the group, which was crucial as the organization stepped up to provide more support during the pandemic. When other organizations canceled their annual events in 2020, the group gathered in smaller numbers in Bettendorf, Iowa for its annual convention as members adhered to safety precautions.
“It was such a tough year, but then it was also a year to say, we’re in this together. And look how everyone can come together to work for the greater good. We’re working together as an industry for everyone’s benefit,” Hime said.