Operations

Florida Coach Operator Buys Out Friendly Competitor

Posted on January 23, 2013
North Florida charter bus operator Sander Kaplan (L) sealed a deal this week to buy competitor Fabulous Coach Lines, owned by Raymond Land.

North Florida charter bus operator Sander Kaplan (L) sealed a deal this week to buy competitor Fabulous Coach Lines, owned by Raymond Land.

North Florida charter bus operator Sander Kaplan (L) sealed a deal this week to buy competitor Fabulous Coach Lines, owned by Raymond Land.
North Florida charter bus operator Sander Kaplan (L) sealed a deal this week to buy competitor Fabulous Coach Lines, owned by Raymond Land.

GAINESVILLE, FL — A Candies Coachworks, a leading charter bus company in North Florida, is closing a deal this week to purchase its closest competitor, Fabulous Coach Lines of Branford, Fla.

This will increase the fleet of A Candies Coachworks from 10 to 15 buses, said Sander Kaplan, owner of A Candies Coachworks and a A Candies Limousine, a 2008 LCT Operator of the Year Award winner. Exact terms of the non-brokered, simple cash deal were not disclosed.

A Candies will immediately absorb the Fabulous Coach assets and client lists, running the combined operations under the A Candies brand. All existing clients and reservations have been transferred over to A Candies while all Fabulous transportation contracts remain valid.

The purchase includes five Prevost H345 buses. Kaplan also is buying a Lincoln Town Car stretch limousine and a Lincoln Town Car Executive L sedan from Fabulous that will be added to A Candies Limousine, a separate chauffeured transportation division owned by Kaplan that now has seven vehicles. Kaplan founded A Candies Limousine in 1986 and A Candies Coachworks in 2006.

A Candies Coachworks already owns eight Prevost motorcoaches and two 28 passenger minibuses, a Krystal KK 33 and a Turtle Top 5500. About 85% of A Candies business overall comes from buses, and about 15% from its chauffeured transportation division.

The deal came about after Kaplan learned that Fabulous Coach Lines owner Raymond Land, 25, wanted to pursue other business ventures. Land, who started the company at age 17 and once ran about 65 buses at its peak, will continue operating line runs from Valdosta, Ga., to the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa, Fla., and two more line runs that go from North Florida to Biloxi, Miss. Fabulous ran about 30 buses just before the sale. The other buses not sold to A Candies will be sold to other operators or kept for the line runs. Land also plans to serve transportation- and transit-related businesses as a consultant as well as run another business, Totuit of Gainesville, which focuses on developing transportation-related apps for universities, which he founded last year.

In a letter to Fabulous clients on Jan. 16, Land wrote: “Your patronage is not taken lightly. The impact that you, our customer, have made on our business has defined us. Now, we are excited to move on to the next chapter of opportunity and provide this excellent transition to share our business with our closest competitor and friend.”

In an interesting twist to the business deal, Kaplan, 47, told LCT he once served as the limousine chauffeur for Land on his high school prom night about eight years ago, when he reserved an A Candies stretch limousine.
 
“I called Ray Land and said, ‘We could do a win-win; are you interested in selling some of your company?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ We struck a deal the next day. He was thinking about this for some time.”

Land told LCT that while he found the charter and tour business exciting, it is very demanding and does not allow enough time for his other business interests and ventures. "As I look to my future, there are other things I want to do," he said, adding they are things with less stress than running motorcoaches. Land said he and Kaplan had a good affiliate and referral relationship over the years. "He was once a limo company and I was the motorcoach company and we worked together all the time," Land said. "He was an obvious choice" to sell to, and is now the largest coach company in North Florida, he added.

The acquisition marks the beginning of a growth mode for A Candies. By adding the Fabulous fleet, A Candies builds from its base of transporting college and high school athletic teams and adds an array of charter tour runs from Fabulous.

A Candies Coachworks plans to hire about 10-15 of the 50-60 Fabulous employees, who may apply for the positions, Kaplan said. A Candies already has a staff of 30 employees.

“This was an opportunity we wanted to take on,” Kaplan said. “We are a very stable company and were looking for growth anyway when this happened. We already opened up a terminal in St. Augustine, Fla., and hired sales staff to work that area. When this happened, we hit the reset button and now are in a growth transitional period.”

— Martin Romjue, LCT editor

Related LCT article: Motorcoaches Prove More Lucrative Than Limousines


Related Topics: business deals, charter and tour operators, Florida operators, mergers & acquisitions, Prevost, Sander Kaplan, tour buses

Comments ( 3 )
  • Patricia Brady

     | about 4 years ago

    Do you have bus service out of Valdosta Georgia day trip to Tampa please let me know times and days

  • See all comments
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