Driving Transactions
Sunday, April 21, 2024

UMA CD President Chris Weiss with UMA Director of Marketing & Communication Julie Ryder (left), UMA VP & COO Ken Presley, and Bus & Motorcoach News Editor Shandra Martinez

Reunited and it feels so good! Several hundred members of the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) and dozens of exhibitors and sponsors gathered together for the first time in more than a year (in person!) for the UMA Motorcoach EXPO last week in Orlando, Fla. CD President Chris Weiss was among the attendees for the five-day event held at the Orange County Convention Center.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, UMA has held weekly Town Halls every Thursday to keep members apprised of the latest news and programs to help them navigate through the choppy waters—but Zoom can’t replace the energy that was created by seeing peers and longtime colleagues in person.

UMA UMA President & CEO Larry Killingsworth and Chris Weiss

“The EXPO was a much-needed spark to get the industry moving again,” said Weiss. “Everyone I talked to was optimistic about where we go from here, as people are craving to attend in-person meetings and conferences again. I was excited to see such a positive turnout for the EXPO and what that means for other industry events, including the CD/NLA Show in Texas this October.”

UMA The ABC Companies team (L to R): Holly O’Hearn, Jay Oakman, Mike Laffan, Brenda Borwege, Gregg Goedde, and Thom Peebles

The conference was part education, part networking, and all catharsis as members were able to once again connect with friends and family in the motorcoach space after a challenging 13 months. Initially scheduled for early March, the event was pushed back to mid-April to allow for a ramp-up of vaccinations—which UMA reports made a difference as many in attendance were indeed partially or fully vaccinated.

UMA Lori Weaver of RRL Insurance Agency and Greg Black of TIB-Transportation Insurance Brokers

The event also marked a special milestone for the association, which is celebrating 50 years. To honor the occasion, former UMA Executive Director Wayne Smith reminisced about UMA’s long history over the years during its golden anniversary. Other featured speakers included sales training coach Jim Pancero and hotelier and entrepreneur Harris Rosen, who shared their ideas and strategies for navigating the new economy, capturing sales, and taking full advantage of new opportunities. The event did have some virtual components for members who couldn’t get away from their businesses, which included the popular weekly Buses & Beer call live at the EXPO hosted by Jeff Goldwasser of Amaya-Astron Seating.

UMA The Prevost team (L to R): Robert Hitt, Bill Welch, Ward Hicken, Debbie Piner, Roy Furo, Jerry Doughty, Jay Snead, Janet Cathey, David Scoular, and Mitch Guralnick

With the first in-person event under their belt and businesses beginning to move again, UMA is moving full steam ahead with its advocacy (the opening of the CERTS application process is still pending) and additional educational opportunities. The association announced that it will hold its EXPO Encore May 18-20, which will include fresh content and some of the more popular sessions from the recent EXPO.

UMA L to R: Tom Halford, Steven Henshaw, and Mike Curtis of National Bus Sales, David Bakare of Executive Bus Builders, and Rick Fugitt of Gateway Coachworks

“The live EXPO last week thoroughly exceeded attendees’ expectations and I could not be more pleased that we can bring all of that and much more to our industry colleagues who could not join us in Orlando,” said UMA President & CEO Larry Killingsworth in the press release. “EXPO Encore is a unique opportunity to expand on the success of our in-person EXPO and add value for our all of our members. And for those who attended in person, the bonus content and ability to relive the best moments will be a powerful motivation to join in the EXPO Encore experience.”

UMA The MCI/NFI team (L to R): Dave Dorr, Richard DeYoung, Brian Dewsnup and Scott Robertson of NFI Parts, Brent Maitland, Bob LaPointe of Classic Lines, Tony Pederson, Dave Johnson, Juan Lepe, Dale Krapf of Krapf Coaches, Dave Mailhot, and Mike Denny

According to the press release, EXPO Encore will bring a live dimension with real-time Q&A sessions following recorded sessions and mix in compelling and informative interviews conducted with industry insiders. These bonus recordings of never-before-seen interviews from the show floor will be part of the program along with a list of all vendors who attended and links to videos about their companies and products. Participants will also have the ability to schedule meetings with these knowledgeable business partners.

UMA Chris Weiss with Katerin and Giuseppe Marinelli of Exotic Bus and Limo

Registration information for EXPO Encore is available here.

Additional photos from the event are available here, and in the May 2021 issue of Chauffeur Driven.