People

Michigan Operator Makes Profitable Use Of Experience

Lexi Tucker
Posted on March 4, 2020
Chuck Covington, CEO of People’s Transit and Global Ground Transportation Institute (GGTI) board member

Chuck Covington, CEO of People’s Transit and Global Ground Transportation Institute (GGTI) board member

ROMULUS, Mich. — Chuck Covington, CEO of People’s Transit and Global Ground Transportation Institute (GGTI) board member, understands the value of diverse viewpoints. Considering how many different fields he’s worked in, he has knowledge of many aspects of the transportation industry that have helped him grow his company and evolve to meet the needs of clients.

Knowledge Is Power

Covington studied political science in college and earned a bachelor’s degree in management. He didn’t really know what he wanted to do, but had a varied resume spanning different fields. He was politically involved in university and student administration and became a vacuum cleaner salesman when he graduated. This helped him gain an understanding of business development. He then came to Flint, Michigan and worked as a production control supervisor for General Motors. From there, he moved on to Ford Motor Company and ended up in staff programs where he wrote purchasing policies.

He then joined North American Automotive Operations, a division of Ford Motor Company, and became a buyer of the parts they used to put vehicles together. These positions gave him an overview of all the different sides of the business. “I realize now for years I was being prepped for ground transportation,” he says. At that point, he also started a travel agency on the side. This took off, and one man couldn’t serve two masters. Within six months of leaving Ford, they ended up becoming his largest customer.

Ever Evolving

People’s Transit started as People’s Travel back in the mid-80’s moving people as an agent to the airlines, which primarily dealt with corporate travel. In the mid-90’s, Ford asked them to help in consolidating their ground transportation. As the travel industry changed, Covington became more familiar with ground transportation. An opportunity came up at Ford that led to him operating 15 22-passenger employee shuttle buses for their workers at Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. After that, they ended up doing work as a concessionaire at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, which brought them into luxury sedan service.

“We went from buses to sedans, which is the opposite of many luxury ground transportation companies,” he says.

His goals in mobility are to keep educating himself and his staff, continuous improvement in paratransit, and pairing the right people with changing needs based on new technology or the specific kinds of medical care they require.

“Whichever model or segment you’re in, I have found in luxury sedan service you can be doing an employee shuttle, fixed route…there’s no one-size-fits-all service model. You must be careful not to get locked into comfort zones. Each client or group has their own culture and way of doing things, so it’s always pertinent to do your homework and find out what that region/area’s customers hot buttons are in terms of likes and dislikes. I always tell our employees no matter how your day is going, when you are picking up a client, consider you may be the only person the client gets to see that day.”

Why GGTI?

Covington decided to become a board member of GGTI because he knows the importance of staying active in the global market. “I knew the history of Bobit and its related business and they’ve helped me get out of my tunnel and stay confidently abreast of trends in the industry. When I first heard about GGTI, it just made sense because it’s international. I’m looking forward to discovering some global best practices, new types of tech and vehicles, and the sharing of member experiences.”

As a board member, he promises to keep an open mind and work together with others to determine how the GGTI can best be relevant for its constituents. That includes looking at major industry issues.

“One of the exercises we went through when I was working with parts was supply base reduction. If you have 90 suppliers providing parts for you, that means you must visit all the sites they come from and it stretches you out a bit. If you reduce your supply base, and work with, say, 10 vendors, it gives you a chance to be more in control of your workflow. I believe insurance companies are trying to do the same thing to ground transportation providers. If my belief is valid, this is something that needs to be discussed.”

Covington wants the group to become visionary rather than reactionary.

Related Topics: ADA vehicles, customer service, eNews Exclusive, Global Ground Transportation Institute, medical transportation, Michigan operators

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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