Executive Coach Builders Carries Limousine Legacy Forward

Posted on June 24, 2013 by - Also by this author

Page 1 of 3

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A look at the business performance and plans of Executive Coach Builders proves that talk of the death of the stretch limo is exaggerated.

After a recession that wracked and almost sunk the stretch limousine manufacturing sector, ECB has emerged as the largest limousine manufacturer in the world, with one quarter of its vehicles exported to nations around the globe.

Somebody must have done something right. All indications point to the man at the top: David Bakare, who celebrates 20 years this year as owner of ECB. He’s banking on the growing popularity of the MKT stretch limousine, the successor to the Town Car sedan stretch, to keep his company at No. 1.

Bakare spoke to LCT at length in April and May, his first major interview with the magazine in almost five years. Much has happened in the limo manufacturing sector and at ECB during this challenging half-decade, requiring Bakare to adjust to new realities so his business stays out front.

Wider Demands
Foremost, limousine operators today are buying a wider variety of chauffeured vehicle makes, models, styles and configurations, Bakare says. Before the recession, ECB produced four key limousine models. Now it offers 15 different ones. “We can’t have business in one segment to sustain ECB. It may be inefficient to manufacture, but you have to produce almost anything the customer wants.”

To build more vehicles for a diversified marketplace, a coachbuilder has to redefine efficiency, Bakare says. The old approach of building a few models with sizable economies of scale has yielded to the higher production costs and lower profits from sustaining multiple model lines. The new approach still makes money, but requires more effort and expense to keep customers happy.

“People want variety,” Bakare says. “They want the Sprinter, a party car, limos, all types of vehicles. We have to evolve and adjust to customers’ demands.”

FASTFACTS: Executive Coach Builders

Location: Springfield, Mo.
Founded: 1976
Founder: John Bumgarner, (1944-2009)
Current owner: David Bakare, Pres.
Acquired: 1993
Key models: MKT stretch limousines; Sprinter vans; Navigators, Escalade, Chrysler 300 and GMC vans
Certification: Quality Vehicle Manufacturer (QVM)
Employees: 120
Production, 2012: 357 units
Production, 2013: 450 units
Vehicle models: 15
Top seller: Lincoln MKT Evolution stretch limousine
Annual revenues: N/A (privately held)
Key executives: James Bakare, vice president of operations; Murray Wolkove, sales manager; Abby Bakare, head of accounting department.
Contact: (417) 831-3535

ECB executives James Bakare (L) and David Bakare (R) work with limousine craftsmen and production team members at the Springfield plant to design and construct a diverse line-up of Lincoln, Cadillac and Chrysler stretch limousines, Navigator and Escalade super-stretches and Sprinter vans.
ECB executives James Bakare (L) and David Bakare (R) work with limousine craftsmen and production team members at the Springfield plant to design and construct a diverse line-up of Lincoln, Cadillac and Chrysler stretch limousines, Navigator and Escalade super-stretches and Sprinter vans.

Recession Bounce-Back
Like most U.S. coachbuilders, the recession hit ECB hard. Annual vehicle production plummeted from 600 units in 2007 to 180 just two years later. Annual production then rose to 357 units last year, and is projected at 450 for this year. ECB is on track to meet its goal of about 500 annual units in 2014.

The growth in demand from foreign markets helped sustain ECB during the recession as domestic demand for stretch limousines fell. Its share of exported vehicles rose from 10% to 40% of total production. Since then, it has rebalanced to about 20-25%, Bakare says. “During the recession, export business was steady, thank God. Now when exports have slowed down, domestic demand has picked up.”

ECB, a Ford QVM manufacturer, is seeing greatest demand for the Lincoln MKT Town Car stretch limousine, the successor to the Town Car sedan stretches that have ruled the limousine market for decades. Sprinter vans are a close second, serving as the ideal base model for a variety of limo bus, shuttle and corporate van configurations.
But the two base models fill complementary needs in the limo vehicle market. “The MKT can’t do the job of the Sprinter, and the Sprinter can’t do the job of the MKT,” Bakare says.

ECB also anticipates demand for the new Ford Transit limo. “This vehicle is poised to put a dent in the Sprinter market while creating a niche of its own,” he says. “There was a lot of buzz when this vehicle was first introduced in February at the ILCT Show and inquiries keep coming while we all await its arrival.”

View comments or post a comment on this story. (4 Comments)

More News

Windy City Lines Up New Top Management

Some well known industry executive names gain new titles and roles at Chicago’s largest luxury vehicle and bus operation.

Operators Land Business Feature On MSNBC

The San Francisco/Silicon Valley area company rose from a weekend wedding limo service to a full-on luxury transportation provider.

Global Partners Adds First Member From Asia

Asia Limo will help the operator peer group gain more international insights.

Kelly Alderete Takes On New Role With The Driver Provider

The industry veteran has been tapped to become the company’s director of sales and business development.

Windy City Names Managers To Lead Client, Affiliate Growth

The company benefits from a deep talent pool that enables it to promote from within, owner George Jacobs says.

See More News

Facebook Comments ()

Comments (4)

Post a Comment



See More

LCT Store

LCT Magazine - August 2017 $12.95 MILLENNIALS/FAST 40 ISSUE COVER STORY: * How to Score & Keep The Best Young Talent * *


Experience the three annual industry events for networking for business, showcasing vehicles and products, and getting the tools for success.

Read About Your Region

What’s Happening Near You?
Click on any state to see the latest industry news and events in that region.

More From The World's Largest Fleet Publisher

Automotive Fleet

The Car and truck fleet and leasing management magazine

Business Fleet

managing 10-50 company vehicles

Fleet Financials

Executive vehicle management

Government Fleet

managing public sector vehicles & equipment


Work Truck Magazine

The number 1 resource for vocational truck fleets

Metro Magazine

Serving the bus and passenger rail industries for more than a century

Schoolbus Fleet

Serving school transportation professionals in the U.S. and Canada

Please sign in or register to .    Close