NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – They took a big hit amid the pandemic, and instead of searching for the road to recovery, more than 140 coach buses hit the road, responding, instead, to our country’s natural disasters.
Three local coach companies are now hoping the opportunity to help will somehow also help them stay afloat.
“It’s all I know how to do,” said Joey Hemphill, Co-owner Hemphill Brothers Coach Company, who went from transporting the elite and moving band members to banding together with two of his competitors.
“It’s been terrible,” Jim Borelli, Co-owner of All Access Coach said. “We’re basically in survival mode.”
Hemphill says according to his bookings, he was supposed to have one of his best years in 40 years. Instead, he had no year at all.
“In March it all came to a halt.”
Music tours stopped, microphones were dropped amid the pandemic and it left Hemphill Brothers Coach Company, Nitetrain Coach and All Access Coach to just figure it out.
In late August, they received a call for help.
“We had to jump in action an get them all running and find drivers,” Jim Borelli, Co-owner of All Access Coach said.
In 72 hours the companies supplied 146 buses sending them off to Lake Charles, LA to help amid hurricane Laura.
“Our drivers went down there for less money than they’d normally would get but again.. they’re willing to do whatever it takes to help this country,” Tim Conner, the owner of Nitetrain Coach said.
These buses, Hemphill says would normally be carrying bands and crews and were now helping the workers down south supplying at least 1,700 beds, air conditioning and WIFI for first responders and contractors in Louisiana.
“We know its our call and we are going to do whatever we need to do to help in the devastated areas,” Conner said.
Meantime, they’re still dealing with economic devastation of their own. ” We probably lost four to five years to come back to where we were,” Borelli said.
But somehow, things always have a way of working out.
“Some good has come out of this pandemic allowing us to help out in Louisiana,” Hemphill said.
The three said their buses were down in the gulf for a few weeks, some remain, but most were replaced by trailers.
Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.