In their own words: 35 years of BRT’s lessons learned

Jan 12, 2017

Travel Notes

The start of a new year inspires all of us to pause and reflect on the year that’s ended. What did we learn? How did we grow? What lessons can we carry with us into all that this New Year holds? We take this same pause each year at BRT – though this year, we’re thrilled to take a longer look back, as we celebrate 35 years of learning, growing and finding new ways to give our clients our best. In anticipation of our 35th anniversary, we interviewed each BRT team member to capture those lessons, moments and details that tell the full story of who we are and where we’re going.

Experience makes all the difference

We’re humbled by the moments we’ve been able to share with our clients – everything we’ve learned, we’ve learned from working with them. As we move into our 35th year, we’re eager to take those lessons and continue building the legacy that Bob Rogers birthed so many years ago.

We serve our clients by taking a huge amount of stress away, so they can focus on the music and being with their students. Their plates are already stacked high as directors – if you can take one worry or concern off their plate, it’s huge.  – Jenn Shiplet

At the beginning of the process, we dig in to find out the customer’s goals, and we put together a tour based on their needs. What’s going to knock the socks off the educator, and what’s going to be great for the student? It might be a little more work to get there, but we think it’s worthwhile.  – Todd Wessel

Giving kids these trips is not something teachers are required to do. When we take over the reins of a trip and truly make it an effortless process for them, we’re making the world a better place for them. They want us to make them look good, and do it as spectacularly as possible. It’s inspiring to me that people trust me with these trips and their students, and I’m driven every day to earn that trust.  – Mike Crandall

It’s about the opportunity for the kids to see what is out there in the world. I work with some kids who are often not leaving their county or the state of Michigan. So when they step off the motor coach into Times Square for the first time, that’s what motivates me. A lot of times they’re scraping to save money for this, and it’s my responsibility not to let them down.  – Jeff McLain

Values we live by

We’ve defined our values – all successful companies do – but it’s another thing to live them, day-to-day, whether we’re celebrating the homecoming of another incredible trip or navigating complicated travel logistics. Here’s how our team describes how our values affect everything we do.

How we’re impacting the lives of the students and educators is what drives us to give everything we have. The longer you’re in this business, the more you realize: The more you give, the more you get back.  – Todd Rogers

I love creating dreams. I approach each trip as a dream: What can I create that will have it turn out to be a dream of the person who ends up travelling, so they come back saying their expectations were exceeded?  – Tom Dillon

That reputation is out there that we’re trustworthy and an honest company.
I know that’s one of the big reasons why BRT has grown. I always feel good about representing BRT – I know what I tell people is the truth. You’ll have a great trip, and BRT will do whatever they can to make that happen. – Guy Blair

The fundamentals are 100% in place from the day I started the company in November of 1981. We haven’t forgotten where we started. We’re still focused on the fundamentals and we’re letting the rest of it take care of itself. – Bob Rogers

Started by one, thriving by many

Bob’s vision for BRT began in his home after ten years of seeing firsthand how performance travel positively impacts students. What if he had stopped there, as a one-man show in his basement? Luckily, that’s not the story of BRT. Today, our team works together to plan and execute over 500 trips per year, changing the lives of more than 45,000 students in 2016 alone. These numbers are only possible because of our BRT “family” of over 35, which continues to grow year after year.

We hire people who care about people. You don’t need a master’s degree for that. In the interview, do they answer questions with their heart, or is it coming off like it was taped? We want genuine, real people here. – Tami Rogers

I think clients would say that we’re their friends. When I see my people, I get hugs. We know things about their family, what their programs are doing. We can talk more freely and openly. We keep it professional but also personal and comfortable. – Katie Mokrzycki

Someone who thrives here is detail- oriented, can kind of juggle, is a problem-solver. You can’t just say, “I have a problem” – what’s the solution? You have to grab the bull by the horns and run with it. And sometimes be calm and take a deep breath.  – Marybeth Coyne

The word “family” really does show who we are. Not just because we’re family- owned, but because we care about our clients like family members. And with our teammates, we’re a family as well. We help each other, trust each other and work well together. When my teammates are successful, I’m so happy and proud of them, and it makes me want to be successful too.  – Emily Cropper

There’s such a diversity of people – music experts, industry experts, people who are passionate about customer service. It’s a nice melding of different experiences. If we were all the same kind of person, I don’t think this company would be what it is.  – Tammy Bainter

How will 2017 be different for you and your students? Will this be the year you plan your first performance tour? We hope so! And we hope that by working together, we can pour everything we’ve learned into creating the trip of a lifetime for your student performers. Happy New Year!

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