NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gray Line, Tennessee’s largest tour bus operator, announced Monday that it has acquired the motorcoach and minibus division of Grand Avenue Chauffeured Transportation, which runs the largest limousine vehicle fleet in Nashville.
Industry veteran Bruce Neuharth has been named CEO of Gray Line to oversee and grow the combined company. He will be joined on the executive team by Carl Haley, who will serve as chief revenue officer and on the Board of Directors at Gray Line while maintaining his position as CEO of Grand Avenue. Grand Avenue’s chauffeured transportation business will continue to operate independently.
The agreement maximizes the strengths of both businesses. Gray Line is an acknowledged leader in fleet operations, safety standards, training, and efficient management; Grand Avenue is well known for its customer service, flexibility and its ability to exceed the demand of customers. The combined company will employ more than 200 Tennessee-based workers.
“I think you had a meeting of the minds between Gray Line and myself," Haley said. "We’ve always worked together well in the marketplace here, and as we were both watching Nashville’s growth and looking at what is best for Nashville and our clients and employees. It really made sense to bring the two brands together.”
Neuharth comes to Gray Line after most recently serving as President and COO of Arrow Stage Lines of Omaha, Neb. Arrow Stage is the ninth largest motorcoach company in the U.S., with more than 250 vehicles in 11 regional locations, including Phoenix, Las Vegas, Denver, Nebraska, and Kansas.
Grand Avenue CEO and Gray Line chief revenue officer Carl Haley strikes a deal that splits his motorcoach division off his growing chauffeured transportation service.
“The opportunities for a high quality, fully integrated transportation company to serve the growing convention and tourism business are enormous,” Neuharth said. “Realizing that our companies’ motor coach operations complemented each other perfectly, we jumped at the opportunity to join forces. After many years in the transportation industry, and leading multiple strategic transactions, never have I seen two entities better poised to partner.”
Gray Line general manager Haniff Jackson said in the end it will be the customers who benefit the most from the acquisition. “The message we want to send is that the best practices from both companies will be presented to our customers. We’re combining our best strengths, and we want to make sure the customer feels that.”
Before the acquisition, Gray Line of Tennessee was the 22nd largest motorcoach company in the U.S. This transaction will likely place the business in the top 20 when the next rankings are released. The company has seen growing regional demand for high quality group transportation. “We didn’t join forces just to get bigger, but we wanted for each company to learn from the other and implement best practices across all of our operations,” Haley said.
XMI Holdings, Inc., in partnership with TNInvestco, made a growth equity investment in Gray Line in September 2012. Since Haley founded Grand Avenue in 2009, the company has grown into Middle Tennessee’s largest and most diverse ground transportation provider serving 450 cities worldwide with a fleet of 45 vehicles, including sedans, vans, SUVs and vintage cars. Information: www.GrandAvenueWorldwide.com; (866) 455-2823.
About Gray Line
Gray Line of Tennessee operates the largest and most modern fleet of motorcoaches, minibuses and shuttles in Tennessee. For more than 30 years, the company has served the diversified transportation of its customers including custom charters, relax and ride tours, sightseeing, airport shuttles and casino trips. The company also provides transportation for a number of charter schools in the regional area. Information: www.graylinetn.com or call (615) 883-5555.