Former Executive Director of OATS, Inc., Linda Yaeger, retired June 30, 2012 after 34 years with the transportation organization. During her time at OATS, Linda served as Operations Director and Assistant Executive Director, and was chosen by the board to serve as the Executive Director in April of 1994.Â
â€œWhen you run a transportation company, you haveÂ many, many challenges every day,â€ says Linda. When she first began working for OATS, their Columbia office was located in the basement of Parkade Plaza. â€œYou could never tell what the weather was like,â€ she says. Linda recalls the sole use of typewriters in the home office, as the modern equipment used today was not yet available to them. â€œIt took forever to get anything done,â€ she says. â€œA project that will take us about an hour to complete now would have taken many, many hours back then!â€
In her role as Executive Director, one of the components Linda felt was important to the sustainability of OATS was to establish permanency for the organization. â€œI think giving it more permanency by virtue of putting us in buildings that better suited transportation delivery was a big accomplishment,â€ said Linda. She relates, as an example, how Columbiaâ€™s office in Parkade Plaza meant that OATSâ€™ vehicles were vulnerable to vandalism overnight, and maintenance on the vehicles was spread out all across the city. Since the completion of their permanent building, the office in Columbia has a place where vehicles are protected and under cover overnight, plus maintenance can be done on site. â€œItâ€™s the ability to function better as a transportation operating company. Weâ€™ve got that now for all regions except the West â€“ and we have an application in for funding which looks promising to be approved,â€ she says.
Linda says she is proud of the people at OATS. â€œWeâ€™ve always had good team spirit. What permeates the company, and what I always remember is a team spirit â€“ working together to get it done,â€ Linda says. â€œI hope it remains that way, and I think it will.â€ Last year, OATS employees and volunteers provided 1.6 million one-way trips for over 36,000 people throughout Missouri, enabling them to get to doctor offices, grocery stores and otherwise maintain their independence.
Linda has not only seen OATS grow; she has been an integral, impacting force behind that growth. During her tenure, OATSâ€™ operating revenue has steadily increased from $4.5M in 1994 to just over $25M going into fiscal year 2013. â€œI donâ€™t think for one minute I did it all myself. It was a team effort,â€ she says. â€œI could always count on the staff to do their part.â€
In addition to her work for OATS, Linda has also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Missouri Transit Associations, a member of the Community Transportation Association of America Board of Directors and was also a former chair of the Rural Transit Assistance Program Review Board. Her footprint on the industry as a whole was substantial and her relationships many.
OATS has been able to make a progressive impact on Missouri and the people who depend on these transportation services due to Lindaâ€™s leadership and the team working behind OATS. â€œI feel a great sense of accomplishment when I think of the years I have spent with OATS,â€ says Linda. â€œIt was a job well done. OATS will continue to help a lot of people, and will do what needs to be done to assure riders that transportation services will continue to be around.â€