First Class Customs Inc. Starts Production Of Luxury Sprinters

Posted on July 10, 2013

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The two current product lines include:

  • Five types of Mercedes-Benz Sprinters with varying floor plans and configurations: A VIP shuttle model, a limo bus perimeter seating model, a combination VIP/limo bus model, a Business Class model, and a set of personalized, corporate style Sprinter models that can serve as mobile offices. First Class is seeking official Sprinter upfitter certification from Mercedes-Benz.
  • Custom-interior, high-end corporate SUVs, such as Cadillac Escalades and a Lincoln Navigators, made for a corporate and celebrity VIP clientele seeking personalized outfitted luxury SUVs.

In the works are two vehicle groups that will complement and capitalize on First Class’ core product lines:

  • Once First Class gets its Sprinter certification, it plans to develop an exclusive line of Sprinters to be sold only through a select network of Mercedes-Benz dealerships that will be preferred partners. The unique models will be based on variations of the aforementioned Sprinter styles and include distinct trim levels.
  • Glick is pursuing a bus manufacturer and dealer network to supply shells for a new line of First Class limousine buses to start production sometime this fall. He plans to focus on safety, with solid bracketing for limo bus perimeter seating that will include seatbelts and signage that asks patrons to sit [voluntarily] while the bus is moving. “We plan to meet and exceed safety requirements,” Glick said. “You will not see stripper poles or dance poles in our buses.”
Jerry Dutcher (L), previously with Executive Coach Builders in Springfield, Mo., recently joined First Class Customs Inc. as sales manager, where he will work with owner and CEO Jay Glick (R).
Jerry Dutcher (L), previously with Executive Coach Builders in Springfield, Mo., recently joined First Class Customs Inc. as sales manager, where he will work with owner and CEO Jay Glick (R).

To ensure quality manufacturing, Glick has hired a team of experienced limousine craftsmen who have worked for such major brands as ECB, DaBryan Coach Builders and Springfield Coach. He also has hired Jerry Dutcher, previously with ECB, as the First Class sales manager. The company, which occupies 30,000 square feet of production and office space in two buildings, so far has 18 employees and aims to start out with an average production level of about eight Sprinter vans per month.

First Class occupies the former factory home of Springfield Limousine, a coachbuilder once owned by the late John Bumgarner (1944-2009). Before Springfield Coach, Bumgarner founded Springfield-based Executive Coach Builders in 1976, now the largest limousine maker in the world and the inheritor of the stagecoach and limousine legacy that defined southwest Missouri and northwest Arkansas as the limousine making capital. [ECB has been owned by David Bakare since 1993].

First Class Customs Inc. joins ECB and Imperial/ Coach Builders as the three leading limousine vehicle makers in Springfield, Mo., a small Midwestern city at the center of the continent once home to dozens of large and small limousine manufacturers. In the last decade, the forces of consolidation, competition, growing use of luxury minibuses and vans, and the Great Recession combined to reshape and splinter the traditional U.S. limousine manufacturing sector.

— Martin Romjue, LCT editor

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