Drivers of motorcoaches for big-name entertainers and crews hold a special skill set that few have an opportunity to learn. The Celebrity Bus Drivers Academy is opening opportunities for drivers to learn this expertise through hands-on training. Founded last summer by Chip Huffman and Tandy Rice, the Academy is supported by Prevost, the leading manufacturer of entertainer coaches since the company pioneered the conversion shell market in 1978. Prevost coaches provide a one-of-a-kind, luxury product to accommodate the unique lifestyle of performers and VIPs.
The Celebrity Bus Drivers Academy will conduct a spring and fall class in 2011. The next class is scheduled for April 20-22, 2011, in Nashville, TN at Prevost’s Service Center. Academy instruction will be provided by Prevost training technicians, technicians from the coach conversion industry, and professionals from the entertainer coach leasing business, including veteran drivers, leasing agents, and owners. A Prevost coach conversion shell and a converted Prevost entertainer coach will be on hand to help students become familiar with the vehicles they may someday be driving.
After completing the class, drivers have the opportunity to enlist in the Top Billing Driver Placement Service. From the inaugural class last year and a second class in the fall, 15 students are already available for placement during this summer’s touring season. Placements can be full-time or temporary, but all are within the entertainment industry. Fifteen more students are expected to be ready for the summer season from the upcoming class in April.
Chip Huffman, CEO of the Celebrity Bus Drivers Academy tells of the student’s only complaint. “The reaction of students has been overwhelmingly positive. ‘Rave reviews,’ as they say in show business. The only ‘complaint’ was that we overloaded them with valuable information! I always point out to potential students that they need to get plenty of rest and be prepared to take notes, because we are going to have an INTENSIVE three days of training!”
Mike Alford, a student of the fall 2010 class says, “I was fortunate enough to attend this class and my hat is off to you! The hospitality from Prevost was great and much appreciated. The information and learning from the top people in this business was invaluable. Thank you to the tour managers, bus contractors, drivers, security and bus builders for taking your time and sharing your expertise with us. I would encourage anyone wanting to learn to operate all the aspects of this type of coach, and what it really takes to be in this business, to apply for the next class.”
Huffman has envisioned running such a school for two decades. As the former owner and founder of Nitetrain Coach, he recalls “constantly fielding calls from drivers who hoped to ‘drive for the stars.’ There’s an overwhelming interest in this market, and a huge need for training. The Academy intends to answer that need, and we’re pleased to have the support of Prevost to help prepare drivers for this vibrant industry.”