There is some new leadership on the United Motorcoach Association board after the election of seven operator Board Members – out of 14 candidates – representing four regions across the United States and Canada. They will assume their new positions following the UMA Motorcoach EXPO on Feb. 23-26 in Long Beach, California.
Here is an introduction to these volunteers, who bring a variety of experience and talents to their new roles. In the statements they submitted when applying for the positions, they share why they decided to volunteer their time to lead UMA and what they hope to accomplish.
John Grzywacz and Tom Giddens were elected to represent Region 1, which includes the states of Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Grzywacz owns CIT Signature in Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife, Kim. Two of their five children work in the business. The business launched 30 years ago with yellow school buses and now primarily focuses on charter service. Grzywacz was re-elected to his UMA board seat.
“I still have work that I would like to see done,” Grzywacz said. “The way I see it, if myself or CIT are facing an issue, many of you are facing that same issue, and I want to fight for our industry. COVID has been a hard time for our industry and, in my opinion, we have a few more years of digging out. I think my participation on the UMA Board is the best place to do that.”
Giddens is the President and Owner of Pacific Coachways Charter Services Inc. in Garden Grove, California. In 1974, he began working his way into the charter bus business, from driver to management. He bought his own company in 1989 with four motorcoaches. Now, he has a fleet with 18 motorcoaches and other vehicles.
“I am an advocate of belonging to and being active in both state and national associations to ensure there is accurate input for legislative agendas,” Giddens said. “I have been a member of UMA since 1993 and would bring vast knowledge and experience of the motorcoach industry to the UMA Board. As a member of the California Bus Association, I served 20 years on the Board and was President for six of those years. During my time as CBA President, I was very involved in legislative issues and meetings with state agencies that directly affected our industry.”
Paige Balsinger and Clarence Cox, III were elected to represent Region II, which includes Washington, D.C., and the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, MIssissippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Balsinger is Vice President of Operations for All Around Charters & Tours in Nokomis, Florida. The family-owned business has a fleet consisting entirely of motorcoaches. It also has distinct departments for tours and charters that operate out of two locations. Balsinger has been a weekly staple in the UMA Zoom meetings for the past two years, often helping her fellow operators with marketing and social media tips. She brings her knowledge of community involvement, marketing and commercial insurance to her new role.
“As our industry continues a strong rebound, now, more than ever, is a time for unity with an understanding that there is still a lot of work to be done,” Balsinger said. “It is our time to shine and showcase to our communities and our nation the vital role we play in our infrastructure and transportation.”
Cox is the owner of Georgia Coach Lines Inc. in Fayetteville, Georgia. Before taking over the family transportation business, he had a distinguished career in law enforcement. He is the immediate past National President of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE). He also has extensive volunteer experience, chairing several boards and leading the humanitarian relief effort “Convoy of Care,” which brings a convoy of resources to areas impacted by natural disasters.
“My goal is to assist in changing the narrative of motorcoach transportation,” Cox said. “I am a newly elected Georgia Motorcoach Operators Association Board Member, and I am always advocating for our industry. I think my direct participation as a Board Member will be helpful to our industry as I leverage some of my already-established relationships on Capitol Hill and elsewhere across the country. After almost 40 years of law enforcement, my regulatory experience can be of assistance as we as an industry navigate through the many regulatory challenges forthcoming.”
Glenn R. Every and Tim Stout were elected to represent Region III, which includes the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.
Every is the president of TTI (Tonche Transit Inc.), a motorcoach and school bus transportation company in the Mid-Hudson Valley region of New York state. Active in the industry, Glenn has served as an Officer and Director of the Bus Association of New York since 2014. He is also President, Director and a co-founder of BUS4NYC Coalition Inc., a New York City-based advocacy group of private bus company owners and related businesses dedicated to raising the bus industry’s profile. The mission of the coalition is to promote the growth and safety of the private bus industry in the New York City area through sustained education and public awareness.
Prior to becoming an operator in the transportation industry, Every was a corporate and business attorney in New York and Washington, D.C. He is a frequent speaker, panelist and author at industry functions. Every has also represented the bus industry before legislators on the state and federal levels. Of particular interest to Every is finding practical, common-sense approaches to the regulatory, legal, insurance and operational issues faced by motorcoach operators.
“Our industry is at a critical juncture,” Every said. There are fewer of us; we are suffering from a driver shortage; regulatory issues abound; small businesses are under fire from our government; congestion and congestion pricing are on the rise; and most of us are still reeling from the impact of the pandemic.
“As an essential resource to the industry, UMA has to be a strong advocate for its Members and an educational source for not only its Members, but the government and the public at large. We need to attract new people to our industry; expand our workforce; be more effective in making legislators and regulators aware of our issues; and work as hard as possible to deliver the safest mode of passenger transportation available.”
Stout is the owner, along with his two brothers, of Stout’s Charter Services, a third-generation transportation company in Ewing Township, New Jersey. He has been actively involved for over 30 years in all aspects of the motorcoach industry. He’s been on the Board of the Greater New Jersey Motorcoach Association for the past 15 years, and the President of the Association for the past decade.
“My goal, as we have realized during the pandemic, is to help our legislative leaders and the rest of the nation realize the importance of our privately owned companies, what a motorcoach is, and why we are essential in this country,” Stout said. “We need to promote our companies and our voices so we matter to the people who make laws and decisions in Congress.
“We cannot sit idly and accept the consequences of our surroundings without having a strong voice. We must not be complacent while the rules and standards around us change. We must evolve and put forth our best effort to do what is right for our industry and especially for all of the valued operators that make our industry strong.”
John Wilson was elected to represent Region IV, which include all the provinces and territories in Canada.
Wilson is the president and CEO of the Wilson’s Group of Companies in Victoria, British Columbia. For the past 40 years, the family-owned company has been active in the ground transportation industry in Greater Victoria, Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and British Columbia. He and his wife took leadership in 2008 and now own the company. The Wilson Gorup of Companies has a fleet of over 200 vehicles, including school buses, motorcoaches double-deckers. It’s the largest ground transportation carrier on Vancouver Island and the second largest in British Columbia.
“The most immediate challenge for all of us as we try to get back on our feet, operating again is the recruitment of drivers and staff. Many drivers have left the industry due to lack of work or relocation in some cases and others around don’t feel safe doing COVID-19 because of their age or higher risks,” said Wilson, who been a champion for the industry in his role as vice-chair of Motorcoach Canada and the chair of the BC Motorcoach Coalition. “I certainly understand the nature of advocating for our business and for our industry. I’ve had some success both at the provincial and federal level here in Canada, with advocacy and getting our industry noticed by the government.”