Here are some sights and scenes from one wicked cool tradeshow.
While many businesses would not consider it the choicest property, for a motorcoach and limousine company, the location couldn’t get any better. Wynne is the closest such company to the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), the fourth busiest in the world, and has immediate access to I-35, the region’s main north-south artery.
There’s plenty of room for all 69 fleet vehicles, offices, a fuel tank, a maintenance garage, tire storage, vehicle wash facilities, and about every function needed for a full-service, 24/7 ground transportation service. When you hear the term “in-house,” Wynne has it all. As its vice president and namesake, Bedford Shelmire Wynne, Jr. likes to say, transportation is all about logistics.
Finding the ideal location for a motorcoach and limousine company, however, was not a coincidence, nor just good luck. It resulted from the background and expertise of owner and founder, and Bedford’s mother, Joan Wynne, a regal, refined Texas dame who has parlayed an entrepreneurial career in commercial real estate into luxury ground transportation. When Mrs. Wynne approaches a dining room table, all seated gentlemen stand.
She knew exactly how to look for and acquire the location in 2009. It now supports a company that has flipped from 70% sedans and black vehicles versus 30% buses in 2008, to 70% motocoaches and buses versus 30% sedans and black vehicles, says CFO Phillip Capers, who joined Wynne Transportation in 2002. As anyone who has owned, run or managed a chauffeured transportation company in the last decade knows, such a “flip” is considered a sign of success as many limousine companies add motorcoaches.
Some of Wynne’s top accounts include a roster of Fortune 500 companies, elite five-star hotels and professional sports clients. Dallas ranks second in the U.S. for Fortune 500 company headquarters. From selling properties, to serving Fortune 500 companies, to running motorcoaches — the connections for Joan Wynne are literal.
A Dallas Story
Joan Wynne entered the commercial real estate business in 1985, a field she notes is male dominated just like the limousine industry. “My dad told me I could be a schoolteacher or a nurse, like many parents did,” she recalls. “I said, ‘No, I want to do something that women aren’t expected to do, something in business that was more challenging and fun.’”
Joan Wynne worked for a real estate company for a few years, buying, selling and owning a mix of residential and commercial properties. Her husband, Bedford Wynne Sr., a prominent Dallas attorney and businessman who was once part owner of the Dallas Cowboys, died in 1989 at the age of 65, according to the Know Your Cowboys website. Wynne Sr. was present at the meeting in Miami in 1960 when NFL owners officially approved the Dallas club as a franchise. He held the position of director and secretary of the Cowboys. In 1967, he sold his minority stake in the Cowboys to help organize the expansion of the New Orleans Saints.
Joan Wynne started her own company in the early 1990s, where she also hit upon her future career. When clients wanted to look at office buildings for sale or lease, she would take them around in a six-passenger stretch limousine. “I’d put them in it and pick them up at the airport, slip in a video of the property we were looking at, and later drink champagne if the deal was solidified,” Joan Wynne recalls. “And if it wasn’t, I’d lock the door and keep them in there until it was,” she jokes.
Because she couldn’t park a stretch in her Highland Park neighborhood, she found a limousine service near the airport to park, clean and insure it for her. When she wasn’t using the stretch for real estate visits, the limousine company would use it as an overflow vehicle for weekend runs. Demand was enough that she earned about $1,500 per month after expenses on that one stretch.
The owner then asked for another, so Wynne bought a limousine company with 10 vehicles in Austin and Oklahoma City. She brought all the vehicles back to Dallas and hired someone to run it as a weekend service. Wynne drew affiliate work from Boston Coach, prompting her to buy more vehicles and hire chauffeurs.
“It got so overwhelming, I didn’t have time to do real estate anymore,” she says. “I asked my son to come help me, because I sometimes had 50 rides coming in per day. Somehow I did it, and it just grew from there.”
From 1995 on, the company evolved into a full-service chauffeured transportation service, and after 2008, expanded with a motorcoach division running 29 buses and counting. Joan Wynne also credits her growth to the company’s formal status as a woman-owned business. It was certified with the Women’s Business Council Southwest a few years after she started the company. The credential helped her get a long list of corporate Fortune 500 level contracts, and to this day she pursues new clients in that category.
Lots On The Lot
The Wynne headquarters and facility has a maintenance garage and raised repair platform that can handle motorcoaches. It has a high-pressure chemical car wash bay and equipment, tire storage area, and a fuel tank that stores 10,000 gallons, divided between diesel and unleaded. One portion of the garage resembles a parts warehouse, with A/C pumps, airbags, light bulbs, brake discs, filters and marker lamps among the many components lining the shelves. Wynne is staffed with five mechanics, certified by MCI and Temsa.
“You must have a good preventative maintenance program,” Bedford Wynne says. “You change your belts, tires, fan motors more than the manufacturer recommends. You should also have one extra item of every mission critical piece of equipment on each bus, such as belts and fuses.”
At the time, Wynne had been outsourcing its motorcoach business worth hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Bedford Wynne, who studied international business in Switzerland, decided to buy a Dallas-based boutique motorcoach company with six buses, according to a detailed financial analysis he did, and then six more. From there, the company would buy one or two more at a time.
“The growth has been phenomenal,” Joan Wynne says. “I didn’t realize how it would grow. I didn’t know there was so much of a need for motorcoaches, so many additional sport teams and activities. All these kids need to go somewhere, like to Houston, Austin or San Antonio for a tournament, for five hours. So they jump on a bus.”
Wynne buys some buses new, some used. They have found that it’s best to keep them up to five years or 350,000 miles when higher maintenance starts to kick in. The Wynnes also decided to hire mechanics due to the increased liability of running motorcoaches.
The company emphasizes its safety record and practices, especially the three-point seatbelts on its motorcoaches. CFO Capers likes to relay an anecdote about a client who “Googled” the terms “safety, ground transportation, buses, and Houston,” and found Wynne in Dallas. (A recent search with those terms puts Wynne fifth in SEO rankings). “We believe that safety is not an accident; it is a way of life,” Capers says.
“It’s not uncommon to have 3,000 people come into Dallas,” Joan Wynne says. “They need a full service transportation company. For seven years we were the only ones in Dallas that offered sedans to motorocoaches. And by doing a lot more in-house, we can add more to the bottom line.”
Most recently, Bedford Wynne Jr. bought an entertainment coach on Dec. 11, 2015, a 2009 Prevost Le Mirage XL II, the company’s second. He acquired it for $375,000 with 350,000 miles. Called “Comedy,” it features a tiled Hollywood-style walk of fame inside with stars bearing the names of famous comedians like Jack Benny, George Burns, Charlie Chaplin and Bob Hope.
Wynne Transportation has launched a segment devoted to road shows and tours for sports teams, bands, performers and entertainment industry clients. The sleeper coach has nine bunk beds, along with living room-style seating, a kitchen, dining area and bathroom. The first bus also has proven popular with high school and college sports teams. The dual slide bus has leveraged, retractable extensions along the left side.
For all the demands of a 24/7 ground transportation company, Joan Wynne, age 68, does not plan to slow down. She commutes daily out to Irving from her high-rise condominium in downtown Dallas, and still puts in 17-hour days when necessary.
Wynne evokes one of her longevity idols, Ebby Halliday, a Realtor and businesseswoman who was one of the first successful female entrepreneurs in Dallas. Halliday died in September 2015 at the age of 104. “I aspire to be like her; she went into the office until just before her last day. Well, I don’t think I’ll work until I’m 104,” Wynne jokes, “but I’ve got another good five years before I even start to retire.”
In coming years, she plans to fully hand over the company to Bedford Jr., who has an 8-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son. “It’s nice to be able to work hard and build something up and give it to somebody instead of selling it.”
Related Topics: Bedford Wynne, business growth, charter and tour operators, Dallas operators, Joan Wynne, motorcoach operators, motorcoaches, operation growth, operator profiles, Texas operators, Wynne Transportation
Here are some sights and scenes from one wicked cool tradeshow.
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