Business View Magazine interviews Currie Myers, VP of Kincaid Coach, as part of our series on best practices in the transportation sector.
Kincaid Coach of Edwardsville, Kansas, is family-owned, charter motor coach business, founded in 1977. From its modest beginnings in and around the Kansas City area, Kincaid Coach has grown to become one of the largest motor coach operators in the nation, with physical locations in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The company is part of the Kincaid Group, which also includes Midwest Bus Sales, KIT-Kincaid Information Technology, Kincaid Ready Mix, State Line Nissan, and DS Bus Lines.
“We are Midwest transportation providers,” says Company Vice President, Currie Myers. “Our niche is to operate within the middle of the United States, and, naturally, we go anyplace in the U.S. and Canada. We do charter work, we do contract work, we do a lot of universities, high schools – bands, athletic programs, those kinds of things. We have shuttles for customers. We have a tour division. For instance, we have tours to Ireland and we may use a motor coach to go to the airport, then we use our partners to finish the rest of the tour.”
Myers explains that the company’s relationships with the other companies in the Kincaid Group informs its non-traditional business model. “Kincaid Coach doesn’t have any mechanic’s shops or service shops,” he says. “That is outsourced to one of our sister companies called Midwest Bus Sales and Service. If we need parts, if we need sales, if we need body shop work, those are outsourced; if we want to purchase a vehicle, we purchase it from a sister company. Another one of our sister companies is called DS Bus, which is a school transportation provider. The ownership also has the Stateline Nissan facility. For our non-motor-coach fleet, for our support groups, we use Nissans.”
“We think that the relationships we have with our sister companies brings extreme value,” Myers continues. “So, we run our operations thinking about, not only ourselves, but the opportunities that exist for our sister companies. We want to be a transportation provider as opposed to just do coach operations. It’s one of the most innovative things that we do – aligning ourselves with our sister companies. It makes good economic sense and good growth sense. So, when we look at growth for our company, we want to be there with our sister companies doing what they do best.”
Myers reports that Kincaid Coach has about a hundred employees and approximately 60 coaches in its fleet – 98 percent of which, he states, are 2015 or newer – another differentiator that puts the company ahead of the competition. “If you look at most motor coach businesses, a ‘new’ motor coach would be something that is 2008, 2009, or 2010,” he maintains.”There are still a lot of early 2000 motor coaches on the road. So, our business niche is to provide high end motor coaches that are new. We have better equipment out on the road and a better customer experience with respect to safety, comfort, and the amenities that people want and need. For us to have a fleet re-greening program in place is extremely important. That way, our customers are riding in state-of-the-art, modern, safe vehicles, that have fewer breakdowns.”
Standard Kincaid Coach amenities include electrical outlets and USB ports, individual reading lights, climate-controlled air conditioning and heating systems, large clear-vision picture windows, weatherproof luggage compartments, and spacious restrooms. Some vehicles are further equipped with HDMI monitors with enhanced audio and optional WiFi.
Even though Kincaid Coach is celebrating its 40th anniversary, Myers reveals that over the last 12 to 18 months, the company has reinvented itself with a new business strategy that puts a premium on customer service. “Our owners are firm believers in understanding what the customer wants – that’s first. So, we are in constant contact with them to find out what the needs are for the future. Our strategy is to be a ‘blue ocean’ company, where we’re thinking outside the box, where we react to what customers’ needs are. We don’t want to be in the ‘red ocean’ where everybody is trying to get the same client for the same price. What we want to do is differentiate ourself with a unique, up-to-date fleet of high-end motor coaches, and high-end, well-trained drivers with great customer service capabilities, and really develop a niche market as a strong, Midwest transportation provider that provides a high-end experience.”
Another innovation, planned to be completed by late summer or early fall 2018, is a brand new, 72,000-square-foot facility that Kincaid Coach is going to use as an event and entertainment space. “We’re going to have an open concept, bringing people into the facility,” Myers says. “We can bring Division One NCAA athletic directors in for them to look at a brand new, state-of-the-art motor coach and be able to see it hands-on with all its capabilities. Before a tour goes out, folks can come in and we can have a bon voyage dinner before they get on the motor coach for a very high-end experience. So, this new facility is not only going to be an operational headquarters for us, but it’s going to be an event space where people can come, break bread with us, be entertained, and be able to see the value-added that we have for our customers.”
Company President, Scott Kincaid, son of its founder, Don, adds that Kincaid Coach has recently instituted several other innovations that have helped transform the company into what he characterizes as a “completely different business.” “We’ve centralized our business, and each one of our locations is working through a centralized office to ensure that a customer in Tulsa, a customer in Kansas City, a customer in Oklahoma City, or Amarillo, Texas, experiences the same adventure no matter where they’re at,” he proffers. “And with the newer, safer equipment, and with communication from a centralized effort, we’ve been able to recruit younger drivers, which I think is very important in this market. We’ve done a fantastic job of hiring great drivers, who are really the face of our company.”
Kincaid also asserts that the motor coach industry lags behind others in the transportation sector in offering their customers a streamlined, online experience: “So, on our new website, one of the things we’re looking at doing is enhancing the ease of doing business to where people can enter in the quote information for a desired trip, and we can respond to the customer faster with more instant pricing. To have that experience you have with the airlines – that’s what the charter motor coach business misses.”
In summing up the company’s new business model, Currie spotlights its five main areas of focus. The first is constant innovation when it comes to adding new technologies and amenities that improve safety, comfort, and customer service. The second is a dedication to providing new, state-of-the-art vehicles that its customers require. Third is the company’s alignment with its sister companies, as well as with their extended network of vendors that Kincaid Coach can rely upon for vehicles, parts, and labor. The fourth is the aforementioned new facility that is going to be event driven and dedicated to customer service and entertainment. Last, but not least, is the company’s continued devotion to community service highlighted by its strong history of philanthropic giving.
“We have a new business plan, we have new people, we have new marketing, and we’re having fun doing it,” echoes Kincaid. “We are re-introducing ourselves to our customers, to our partners, and internally, to ourselves. We want our previous customers to try us if they haven’t in a while. They’ll be impressed.”
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Kincaid Coach
WHAT: A family-owned, charter motor coach business
WHERE: Edwardsville, Kansas
Motor Coach Industries, Inc. – Motor Coach Industries, Inc. manufactures and sells luxury coaches for use in charters, tours, line-haul, and shuttles, and public sector coaches for commuter/transit, educational institutions, prisoner transport, and federal agencies. It also provides pre-owned coaches, vintage parts, air system components, brake shoes, brushless motors, filters, LED lights, and more. In addition, the company offers after sales support services that include technical training, emergency roadside assistance, and other services. The company was incorporated in 1962 and is headquartered in Des Plaines, Illinois – www.MCIcoach.com