New UMA chair wants Association to expand education for Members

New UMA Chair David Moody still remembers his first UMA Motorcoach EXPO in 2008. Even at age 26 and for someone who had grown up in the business, the experience was a bit intimidating. 

“You had all these people that have been in business for 20, 30 and 40 years,” remembers Moody, General Manager of Holiday Companies in Randleman, North Carolina. “You’re sitting around the table trying to talk to them and you’re just trying to just absorb some of that information. You don’t really feel like you have much to add to the conversation at that time.”

If Moody felt out of his depth, no one gave him the impression he didn’t belong at the table. Just the opposite.

“Everybody treated me great, and that’s why I felt welcomed. We say it’s a family atmosphere in our businesses, and it’s a family atmosphere at EXPO, too. You meet people at the first EXPO, and then you continue to see them EXPO after EXPO. And you love hearing what’s happening in their organization. And so it’s a big family atmosphere here, too.”

Expanding his experiences

As Moody continued to get involved in EXPO, he chose over and over again to take part in activities that pushed him out of his comfort zone. Those experiences, from running for the United Motorcoach Association board at age 28 to speaking to Congressional leaders at Legislative Fly-In, have helped prepare him to take on his most challenging role yet – UMA chair. 

David Moody
David Moody speaks at the 2022 UMA Motorcoach EXPO in Long Beach, California. (Jill Kelly)

Moody is the third generation in a business started by his maternal grandparents, Dwight and Nancy Thompson. His parents, Gary and Rhonda, retired during the pandemic, leaving him and his brother Jonathan, who oversees the sales department, in the business. His uncle David Brown is the president.

His uncle encouraged Moody to run for the UMA board of directors as his board tenure was ending. Moody was elected to represent Region 2 in 2013. He described that job as being “even more intimidating than the first EXPO because now you’re really with the best of the best.” 

Industry always must come first

What he has learned on the board is that you have to put the greater good of the industry ahead of your own interests.

“You try to check your business at the door when it comes to making decisions for UMA,” Moody said. “You’re really trying to think of what this decision does for the industry. How does it push the industry forward? Or how does it pull the industry back?” 

One example he gives of that commitment in action was when the UMA board fought the 2015 Federal Motorcoach Carrier Safety Administration proposal to raise the $5 million insurance minimum on motorcoach operators to as much as $25 million.

“For larger operations like ours, that would have been a significant setback but we probably would have been able to sustain it,” Moody said. “But the smaller operators, there’s no way they could have sustained that increase. That’s one of those areas that it really took checking our business at the door and pushing forward for the industry, because the industry would have been hurt by the insurance increase. Throughout all the years that I’ve participated on the UMA board, it’s about helping all operators, and in particular smaller operators, operate efficiently and grow when they’re ready.”

UMA President Scott Michael with UMA Chair David Moody at the Holiday Companies facility. (Courtesy)

After serving on the board for nearly a decade, Moody is taking its helm as one of the youngest UMA chairs in recent years. 

But he’s not the youngest on a board that is fairly diverse when it comes to age. Matt Dance, Director of Safety and Risk Management at Champion Coach, and Bethany Schubert-Bertram,  Vice President of Trobec’s Bus Service, are also millennials. 

Would broaden educational programs

In the volunteer position that he’ll hold for two years, Moody is setting his sights on improving UMA’s educational offerings.

“UMA always has been the place I come to get an education. We would like to work on the quality and consistency of the education that we provide. We’ve always had a Safety Seminar and more recently a Sales Summit, but I think we’re leaving out other areas of our businesses, like maintenance or dispatch. There’s a need to provide more innovative and effective ways of operating our businesses.”

David Moody
David Moody stands in the exhibit hall at the 2022 UMA Motorcoach EXPO. (Shandra Martinez)

While the annual UMA Maintenance Interchange has been a unique and valuable part of the UMA Motorcoach EXPO because it allows mechanics and operators to share issues they are struggling with, Moody thinks there’s a need for more education around all aspects of maintenance, from simple tasks of parts ordering all the way to management.

“UMA could provide broad-scale training,” Moody said. “You can teach HVAC theory, or electric theory, how to test for bad relays, bad sensors, this kind of stuff. You’re teaching them the theory of how they would go about checking for any coach.  In dispatch & operations, there are things that we can teach there. We can develop some driver training curriculum like we used to have.” 

Encouraging engagement

One way to provide this education is to use the vendors that are already doing some of this kind of education, he adds.

“We’ve done really well over the past couple of years for member engagement, specifically with the L&R (legislative and regulatory) grassroots efforts. I think we can continue that,” Moody said. “It was extremely nerve-wracking the first time that I went to D.C. to speak with Congress. So I think that’s something that we can do. Here’s how to speak with your congressmen. And here are ways to get involved locally.”

He wants to see UMA continue member engagement through Town Hall participation and grassroots efforts.

Overall, his goal is to make UMA a welcoming environment for others like it has been for him.

“Town Hall has been a great connection point for UMA. We will continue that, whether we have to slow it down a little bit and maybe go to bi-weekly or monthly,” Moody said. “It might happen as everybody’s business resumes, or it may remain a weekly thing, but I think that has been a great connection point. And then the Overdrive session after that, that just allows everybody to have this conversation that we have here at EXPO weekly when they come home.”


A recap of 2022 UMA Motorcoach EXPO in photos and videos

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