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Wisconsin bus companies prepare for surge in visitors ahead of Republican National Convention

Nearly a third of the buses that will be used during that week will come directly from Wisconsin-owned businesses
Elaine collage 4/9/24
Posted at 10:08 AM, Apr 10, 2024

MILWAUKEE — One way that the Republican National Committee wants to make sure the Convention goes off without a hitch is by really investing in Wisconsin.

They plan to do that by getting nearly a third of the buses that will be used during that week directly from Wisconsin-owned businesses.

“When you outsource, you take away a lot from the local vendors and the local people that produce good labor, good drivers and good equipment,” said Kenneth Davis, Bus Driver, KB Excursions.

Kenneth Davis grew up in South Milwaukee and is one of KB Excursions’ nine drivers with longtime Brew City roots.

He says that connection is a big part of why they wanted to provide buses for the RNC.

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Kenneth Davis, bus driver with KB Excursions. Ken grew up in South Milwaukee and has been driven thousands of people around our city for more than 20 years. He’s really looking forward to giving visitors a chance to learn about the area from someone who knows it well.

“Any one of these guys could be a tour guide; take you downtown, take you for a tour, talk to you about whatever is in the community,” said Davis.

Brad Wallace says that his team at Oak Creek-based GO Riteway is ready to take on the thousands of visitors expected to come into town.

“With the number of buses that we have, not only here in Wisconsin, but also Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan, we were able to put together quite a fleet,” said Brad Wallace, Director of Sales & Marketing, GO Riteway.

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Brad Wallace, Director of Sales & Marketing, GO Riteway. As a locally owned business out of Oak Creek, Brad says his team is excited to connect with visitors through the 75 buses and vehicles they’ll have ready to dispatch during the RNC.

Still, he says they had to prove themselves ahead of securing one of the Committee's contracts.

“We really needed to make sure that all of our equipment and all of our drivers were properly trained,” said Wallace.

He says they leaned on their experience handling other major events, including last summer's first Republican debate.

“We have history with the Ryder Cup and US Open golf events. And the dress rehearsal really was for the debates that were back in August and so all of our equipment was on display,” said Wallace.

Right now, Wallace says they have around 50 vehicles set aside for the RNC, ranging from large passenger buses to smaller Sprinter vans.

Just down the road in Cudahy, Davis says he and his fellow drivers are ready for one of the biggest contracts the family-owned business has ever had.

“Gearing up for the convention is the reality of being in it, getting the buses ready, and having the drivers all on the same page as to what's going to happen,” said Davis.

Both Wallace and Davis say they hope the convention is the first step in bringing even more business into town and giving their companies an even bigger boost for the future.

“We really do see the residual effect of having a convention in our back pocket, as a city anyway, as being really an entree to more conventions, larger events,” said Wallace.