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15th Anniversary Spotlight: Doug Donalson

Posted on November 1, 1998 by LCT Staff

Doug Donalson has long been herald­ed as one of the limousine industry’s most innovative builders and design­ers. For the past 23 years he has been instrumental in the technical development of limousine manufacturing.

When Donalson began building stretch limousines in 1976 for Executive Coach Build­ers, the 36-inch stretch was a stan­dard conversion. It was 1980 before a 46-inch conversion became in in­dustry norm. In 1986, the 60-inch stretch became a part of most Limousine company fleets.

Donaldson began as a welder, bodyman, and painter for the Seymor, MO-based company. He was promoted to shop foreman in 1978. Donaldson’s first tenure at Executive ended in 1984 when he became plant manager at Corporate Coach.

At Corporate Coach, Donaldson helped create the first wide body limousine. He contributed to the design of the dual dividers, dual batteries, and relay-controlled printed circuits and electrical systems. From 1991 to 1993 Donalson started CoachWorks by Donalson where he built a number of limousines.

In 1993, David Bakare, Execu­tive’s president, rehired him to run the company’s manufacturing fa­cility. Joining Donalson at Execu­tive were eight supervisors who had worked with him for more than 15 years.

“I was not happy with the quality of vehicle we were building,” says Bakare. “Our reputation in the business had suffered over the years.”

Working with his team, Donalson re­designed Executive’s plant and its entire manufacturing process. He also com­pletely redesigned the interior of Executive’s stretch limousines. Bakare says the im­provement in quality has been significant.

“From the day that Doug Donalson ar­rived, Executive Coach Builders has dramatically improved the quality of its limousine,” says Bakare, “Currently, our sales are at an all-time high. More than 70 percent of our buyers are repeat customers. I attribute much of this to the great product that Doug has helped us design and build.”

According to Bakare, Donalson and his team have significantly improved company morale. “Our manufacturing facility is 100 percent air conditioned,” he says. “We spent a fortune to have the best equipment possi­ble. Doug has been a key figure. The attitude of our staff is very good. I think that stems from the quality of the product we are producing.”

As he approaches 25 years in the limousine business, Donal­son reflects on how the industry has evolved. “It looks like the in­dustry is here to stay, but we have to be careful about responding to the needs of our customers,” says Donalson. “When you sell a cus­tomer an expensive vehicle, you have to support that customer with quick, efficient service. We must also continue to improve vehicle design.”

 

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