Brian Scott’s beginnings in the motorcoach industry started pretty early — as early as 5:00 a.m. That was the usual hour he and his sister Pam started washing buses for the family shuttle service.
“My sister and I were the only kids in our high school who were up that early on the weekends,” laughs Scott.
Scott quickly immersed himself in all areas of the family business by learning bus maintenance and driving buses for extended tours, eventually moving on to sales and driver hiring. Now, at the age of 33, Scott is vice president of the family motorcoach company, Escot Bus Lines in Largo, Fla.
“I love seeing our customers on board the buses and seeing happy customers getting off,” he says. “Those are the things that make me want to come to work in the morning.”
For his leadership and commitment to the motorcoach industry, Scott has won METRO Magazine’s 2002 Operator of the Year Award.
“We are very honored and proud. It is something that makes everybody in the company feel good,” Scott says.
Lottery forced strategy change
Scott’s parents, Lou and Diane, started the family business in 1983 with two minibuses, providing shuttle service to local dog and horse racing venues. The Scotts soon leased their first motorcoach and began providing charter service.
In the mid-1980s, Florida introduced the state lottery, which soon overtook the track in popularity. So much so, the family shuttle service virtually disappeared overnight. Luckily the Scotts still had the charter service, on which they focused all of their efforts to help it grow.
Today, Escot Bus Lines has 26 buses, 50 employees and carries more than 300,000 passengers annually.
The company continues to be a family-owned and -operated affair. Scott’s father Lou is president, mother Diane is comptroller and sister Pam works as operations manager. Even the family dog Mo, making an appearance on the company Website (www.escotbuslines.com) as mascot, is a part of the Escot Bus Lines team.
Although offers have been made to buy the company, the Scott family declines to sell. In an industry fraught with consolidation, family-owned operations stand out because they can offer customer service with a personalized touch, says Scott.
“We can react to a customer’s needs much faster than other companies,” says Scott of the company’s personalized service. “Customers know they’ll be able to talk with a Scott even if they call on the weekend.”
Standing out above the competition has been a consistent goal for Escot Bus and also the key to its success. “Nobody else in the area was offering the latest equipment that was available — we just decided to run with it,” says Scott.
By building a fleet of new European-style coaches, and developing a solid reputation for good service and clean equipment, Escot Bus Lines has grown into one of the most established and successful motorcoach companies in the Tampa area.
The fleet, a combination of MCI, Setra, Van Hool and Goshen coaches, is equipped with such amenities as REI video systems, CD players and reclining seats by National Seating, covered with Holdsworth fabrics.
Coach exteriors are emblazoned with colorful national flags of Escot’s diverse tourist clientele.
Escot specializes in charter and multi-day tours, once traveling as far as Alaska. During the summer and fall, the New England states are popular destinations, while the Midwest is popular in the spring and winter.
In addition to long-distance charters, Escot provides quality service to its local clientele, including schools, tour operators and cruise lines.
Some of Scott’s goals for the future of the company involve increasing the fleet size and opening a satellite office in areas of the state where quality coach service is not available.
Scott has served on the United Motorcoach Association’s board of directors for the past year, and is a past president of the Florida Motorcoach Association (FMA), where he was instrumental in helping to pass a diesel fuel tax rebate for Florida coach operators that went into effect in 2001.
“He and the board worked together to develop minimum practice standards for operators,” says Brenda Thomas, FMA executive director. “Brian was one of the finest presidents the FMA has ever had.”