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February 2013

2013 METRO Operator of the Year: Young Transportation

T. Ralph Young, owner of Asheville, N.C.-based Young Transportation, has been down a long road in the motorcoach business, a journey his father began in the 1930s.

T. Ralph Young Sr. owned a trucking business on the outskirts of Asheville, N.C. His employees wanted to go to the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, so he installed seats, put a canvas over a truck and off they went.

“They rode on [wooden] board seats for six-hundred-and-something miles,” Young says.

The trip went so well, the employees requested a bus to take them to and from work and shopping, and in 1937, Young Sr. began running one. He obtained authority from the state of North Carolina in 1939 to operate a schedule run, farebox business running from Asheville to three rural communities.

Business bustled throughout the war years. However, after World War II ended, cars became more popular and business declined, so Young Sr. sold two of the three line operations and concentrated on his trucking company and buses, as well as a service station and grocery store he owned.

Meanwhile, Young grew up in the business. His dad had him sweeping out buses and trucks from age nine.

During the business slump of the post-war years, Young Sr. developed heart problems and decided to close the operation in 1960. Young sold one of the operation’s three buses in Kentucky. After he returned from delivering it, he learned his father had a heart attack and passed away.

Young bought the buses from his mother for a fair market price and asked her to finance them.

He initially struggled with the operation. “I thought, ‘What am I doing? I’m not making any money. I could go out and get a job.’ But I never pursued it,” Young says. “Not knowing what to do, I just kept on playing with it and bought a bus to replace the one that sold. It all developed from there.”

He started charter service in 1961, and as the business grew, he cut schedule run service. In 1975, Young incorporated and changed the business name from Asheville-Elk Mountain Bus Line to T.R.Y. Inc., doing business as Young Transportation.

Today, Young Transportation is comprised of three thriving segments: group tours, charters and destination management.

Turnaround
Young ended up growing the business considerably over the years after purchasing 40 new buses in 1982 to provide shuttle and charter services to the Knoxville, Tenn. World’s Fair, a move that paid off significantly in name recognition for the company.

“It gave us so much credibility and free advertising.” Young says. “TV stations would send a crew here in a helicopter to interview us. It was really a turnaround for the business. We were getting calls from people we had never quoted before.”

In 1982, to expand and improve business, Young acquired Accents on Asheville, a destination management company that provides customized tours in North Carolina.


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