There’s a lot for Vandalia Bus Lines to celebrate these days. As the family-owned company is marking its 90th anniversary, it’s being honored as the 2022 Operator of the Year by the International Motorcoach Group (IMG).
The award was made extra special for company co-owner Dennis Streif, thanks to his team. They explained what happened behind the scenes so that, when one of Vandalia’s coaches rolled up at the event wrapped in Operator of the Year graphics, it was a complete surprise for Streif.
“We were asked to keep a secret from our boss. We all played a part in this covert mission. We accepted the challenge of keeping Dennis out of the loop, and it certainly was a challenge,” the team shared on Facebook. “We had to create a fake charter in our computer system, we had to disconnect the tracking in the bus, we had to turn off the internet to the cameras — and when Dennis started talking about coming home early, we had to scramble to find a way to keep him in Texas.”
A memorable moment
Streif described winning the prestigious industry award as equivalent to winning the Super Bowl. The analogy was fitting considering the award was given at the Dallas Cowboys’ Country Club.
Brenda Wordelman, ABC Companies’ Vice President for the Southeast Region, described the moment of seeing the Vandalia coach as pretty memorable.
It was “a hot, hot day in Dallas, Texas, and when their motorcoach rolled in as Operator of the Year, celebrating 90 years of family, solid business, I got goosebumps. It cooled me off,” she said in a video, along with ABC’s Vice President of Marketing Thom Peebles, congratulating Vandalia Bus Lines and the Streif family. “We couldn’t be happier for them, number one as friends and number two as partners. We would do anything for the Vandalia family.”
Streif, who is a United Motorcoach Association Board Member, says he decided to join IMG in 2001 after talking to IMG members at a table at the UMA Motorcoach EXPO, held that year in Indianapolis.
“It’s been a great organization,” said Streif in an IMG video. “We’ve learned and grown a lot and networked with a lot of successful people, exchanged ideas, built support for each other out on the road. We were all one team, and we’re glad to be part of that.”