Operations

Ed Grech: A Visionary Driving Innovation

Posted on March 13, 2017 by Article provided courtesy of Grech Motors

Founder and CEO of Grech Motors Ed Grech (Lyle Okihara)
Founder and CEO of Grech Motors Ed Grech (Lyle Okihara)
For the past 33 years, Ed Grech has dedicated his life to two things: Innovation and design. The founder and CEO of Grech Motors has always been driven by a vision of creating new, exciting, and beautiful vehicles that change the way people work, travel, and experience the world.

Along with his experienced team, he has created vehicle designs that challenge the status quo, raised the standards of quality beyond what many believe is possible, and invented completely new categories of equipment with which transportation operators can build and grow their businesses. Here’s a look at how Grech’s determination to innovate in design and manufacturing revolutionized the ground transportation industry.

It began in 1983 at the back of a body shop in Los Angeles, Calif., when Grech looked at an old Cadillac he’d bought with minor engine damage and joked with his shop foreman that they “ought to just cut this thing in half and make our own limo.” Prior to this, Grech had repaired and restored various limousines that rolled through his body shop, but had never built his own. After making this comment, he went to lunch, and when he returned, the Cadillac was cut in half, marking the moment when Grech’s life — and the transportation industry — changed forever.

That first limo was originally used to take out Grech’s friends and clients until one day someone offered to buy it. Shortly after it was sold, Grech built another one. This cycle continued, and in 1987, the same year Grech moved into a larger production facility in Anaheim, Calif., he introduced his first limousine with a J-seat design. It would be at this facility that Grech introduced many of his greatest innovations in design, engineering, and manufacturing.

Revolutionizing the Industry, Part I

As the limousine industry began to grow, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Ford concluded limousines more than 60 inches could not meet NHTSA’s safety standards. In 1990, Grech invested his own money to organize an engineering team and send a 110-in. Lincoln stretch conversion to the testing track.

The vehicle was tested and examined for fuel integrity, steering wheel displacement, and braking. These tests were comprehensive, addressing multiple concerns for safety, to comply with FMVSS.

It exceeded Ford’s expectations and passed the test, meeting Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. As a result, Grech’s 110-in. limo was the longest limousine certified by Ford’s Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM) program. He would later surpass this with the introduction and QVM certification of a 120-in. Lincoln stretch limo.

Through innovative design and engineering, Grech’s buses feature the strongest cages built from the highest quality materials (Lyle Okihara)
Through innovative design and engineering, Grech’s buses feature the strongest cages built from the highest quality materials (Lyle Okihara)
Throughout his career, Grech has gone to great lengths to ensure all vehicles he builds comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, as well as meeting the standard for the Ford QVM program. As a result, Grech’s vehicles have been consistently honored by Ford’s QVM certification since the program’s inception.

“These programs taught us how to produce quality products consistently,” Grech says. “They instilled the philosophy of continued improvement and require us to always think of ways to build even better.”

As a result of the original crash tests, Grech continued to invest in better equipment, more sophisticated procedures, and first-rate engineering.

Revolutionizing the Industry, Part II

Throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, Grech continued to hunt for the next innovative idea. These included an award-winning 120X interior design package that featured fiber optic lighting, star-light ceiling, and in-seat wrap-around assembly, and the 120V-5 interior created by Designworks, a BMW Group Company; the iconic 120-in. and fifth-door limousines; an expansion into motorhomes and professional vehicles; and all kinds of limo conversions on SUVs, including the infamous H2 Hummer limo.

In 1995, Grech built his first Ford E-450 shuttle bus. While he spends most of his time involved in the company’s growth, research, and design, Grech remains hands-on in his operation, and one day while he was overseeing his production line, he saw a bus and a limo side by side. This gave him the idea of a bus with a limo interior, and the ubiquitous limo bus was born.

In 2013, as the ground transportation industry began a major shift toward bigger vehicles to serve the growing group-travel niche, Grech patented Grech Motors’ signature panoramic front viewing window and introduced a new caliber of buses designed with a modern, aerodynamic exterior and ultra-luxurious, high-tech interiors. Grech holds US Patent 8910992, US Patent D708557, and US Patent D727811.

His most recent vehicle innovation is the all-new 2017 F-550 GM33, which sports a redesigned chassis cab and updated interior. As of this writing, Grech Motors is the first and only coachbuilder to offer a bus on the new 2017 Ford F-550 chassis for immediate delivery.

Designing a Business

Grech’s ability to innovate at such a high level is thanks in part to the way he designed his business. While there exist many complex and moving parts to his company, one can simplify it into two major components: The people and the production plant.

Grech Motors is the first coachbuilder to produce a luxury bus on the newly redesigned 2017 F-550 chassis, which features an exterior facelift as well as structural enhancements. Shown here is the GM33 model, available for immediate delivery (Lyle Okihara)
Grech Motors is the first coachbuilder to produce a luxury bus on the newly redesigned 2017 F-550 chassis, which features an exterior facelift as well as structural enhancements. Shown here is the GM33 model, available for immediate delivery (Lyle Okihara)
His core values have always been service, safety, quality, professionalism, and pure luxury, so he has carefully crafted and invested in a team who shares the same philosophical vision. Building the highest quality vehicles and delivering the industry’s best customer experience requires meticulous planning, precise engineering, and effective execution. Thus, the Grech Motors workforce is organized by teams of experts in different areas who work together to create and deliver a product greater than the sum of its parts (see sidebar for more details).

With the right people in place, the production process takes care of itself. Grech modeled his plant after Ford and General Motors to allow his company to produce the highest quality vehicles more consistently, efficiently, and effectively than any other manufacturer in the industry.

Building the Future

What’s next for the legendary coachbuilder? “There’s a lot of untapped potential and opportunity for operators,” Grech says. “The landscape continues to shift more toward buses and Sprinters. I think we’re on the verge of a new era for the luxury ground transportation industry as a whole. It’ll just take a little bit of innovation and creative thinking.”

The Grech Motors Way

Production

Size of production facility: 132,000 sq-ft. with 32,000 sq-ft. dedicated to Sprinter production. (Grech Motors’ Riverside, Calif.-based corporate headquarters is 45,000 sq-ft.)

Stations: 20

Quality control measures: Thorough inspections by experienced quality control team, water testing, extensive road testing, and final vehicle walkthrough by QC team and sales representative.

Sales

The Grech Motors executive sales team includes senior sales executives Kaye Marseilles, John MacKinney, Rene Martinez, Larry Olivarez, Tina Clark, Michael Campos, Carl Restivo, Brian O’Neill, Jim Antonopoulos, and Sales Manager Marty Vitelli; VP of Operations John Beck; and VP of Sales & Marketing AJ Thurber.

Financing

Grech Motors’ in-house finance division is led by industry veterans Nick Rocco, George Lee, and Philip Wellington. With a deep understanding of the industry’s many business models, fleet sizes, and market verticals, Rocco, Lee, and Wellington tailor their financing programs to each operator’s needs.

Service & Warranty Support

Another Grech innovation is the industry’s best warranty on parts and labor at 5 years/100,000 miles. Ralph Garcia (Grech Motors Service/QC Director), Spencer Beck, and the entire service team are proactive about helping clients with any needs they may have.

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