Ford F550 is a mid-size limo bus that can be designed in a more party bus-style décor or forward-facing seats for executive transportation. Owner Randy Galbreath builds versatile limo buses that can appeal to both party and corporate clients.
ERIE, Penn. — 2006 was a banner year for new companies in the limousine industry and beyond. But not many companies that started out in the bubble of 2006 made it out of the recession of 2008-2009. LGE Coachworks was an exception, as it leveraged a mix of good timing, smart business foresight, and hard work.
One of the most fortunate things LGE Coachworks did was focus its attention early on producing quality limo buses. It opened for production in 2006 with a single bay for manufacturing. “We started with just a couple stretches,” owner Randy Galbreath says. “The Hummers were hot at the time, and we went slow, just doing one a month. Then we started the limo buses soon after and realized that was the way to go.
In 2007, LGE did its first limo bus and quickly realized that demand for them was increasing. “When we first started out we did custom stretches like Hummers and Town Cars, but by mid-2008 we decided to just make buses,” Galbreath says.
With a bus-building capacity of five production bays, Galbreath can build three buses at a time, averaging about four and half complete buses per month. With every member of his crew working full time on a single bus, he can have one completed in seven days.
LGE Coachworks buses tend to be larger, with its smallest a 2013 E450 18-passenger party bus, and the largest a Ford F750 party bus that can accommodate 42 passengers. Galbreath tries to make each as versatile as possible. The interiors are decorated with a subdued but still entertaining style, and LED lights can be controlled to fit the mood of the event. As more corporate business seeks out bus transportation, LGE Coachworks has a 28-passenger Executive Style Limo Coach and more traditional forward-facing shuttles available.
Single Stretch Beginnings
Galbreath got into the chauffeured transportation industry when he opened up a limo company in 1999 called La Grand Elite Limousine in northeastern Pennsylvania. “I started with a single limo, a brand new 120-inch Lincoln stretch from Tiffany Coachworks,” he says. As Galbreath grew the business, he started to develop relationships with more coachbuilders. He started regularly custom ordering vehicles from coachbuilders before busy season and then reselling them after a year.
“I would buy a chassis that was about a year old and then have the coachbuilders stretch it out,” he says. “I’d run them during the busy season, basically brand new, and then after a year I would sell them. And I got very good value because the depreciation wasn’t bad.”
Galbreath took to the Internet to market his for-sale stretches, using Craig’s List, eBay, limos.com, and his website. The customers flocked, and Galbreath soon had demand for more limos than he could buy. So, he started a dealership.
“I’m a sales guy. It’s just naturally in my blood,” Galbreath says. “I started building a clientele of buyers, and if something went wrong with the vehicle I would take care of it; send out the parts, whatever they needed. And that’s a big deal because a lot of the big guys don’t honor their warranties. If someone calls me up and says this is broke I don’t even question it. I help them through it and I pay the repairs, and that goes a long way with customers.”
Move to Manufacturing
At its peak, Galbreath’s dealership was moving 50 vehicles a year, and with all the equipment he had out there, there were bound to be breakdowns. Luckily he had a mechanic down the street, David Sacco, who could fix anything and everything that stopped working on the limos and buses. After a few years, Galbreath and Sacco had established relationships with most of the vendors who produce interior vehicle products, such as A/C, lighting, and décor. So they decided to try manufacturing.
As LGE Coachworks looks toward the future, Galbreath plans to break ground on new construction bays, bringing the total to seven, which he hopes will allow for seven buses to be built per month. “It sounds weird that we got in this business right as the recession started to hit, but it turned out it was the best thing that could have happened for us.”
Location: Erie, Penn.
Owners: Randy Galbreath, David Sacco
Contact: (814) 806-2920