As it celebrates its 75th year in business, Hagey Coach & Tours
is still going strong as a U.S. family-owned business that has made it to the third generation of ownership.
"It's a real point of pride," explains GM Brian Hagey. "I grew up working part time for my grandparents, my parents, and now my aunt and uncle. There are a number of Hagey family members still working in the business."
The company held its 75th anniversary banquet at the end of June for more than 200 employees and friends where it often holds its parties — at its coach maintenance building at its Souderton, Pa., headquarters. "Yes, we keep it that clean!" laughs Hagey.
The company also celebrated by inviting customers to sign up for a one-time-only special tour rate of $15-per-person to Lancaster, Wildwood and Philadelphia in July and August. Several hundred people showed up for the special tour sale.
Like many regional coach firms, Hagey started as a school bus company. Founders Clarence and Elsie Hagey started the firm in 1936 by buying a Ford school bus that transported Franconia, Pa. children to school. Their first contract brought in $1.50 a day in the midst of the Great Depression.
Clarence and Elsie Hagey would branch into the tour business in 1947 with their first coach purchase and sell that side of the company to their eldest son Gerald and his wife Dorothy. They would sell the school bus side of the business to their youngest son Donald and his wife Linda in 1970. After Gerald's death in 1995, Dorothy Hagey sold the coach business to Donald and Linda Hagey, once again reuniting both sides of the business.
Brian Hagey, Donald's nephew, now puts the total fleet at 140 school buses, 18 motorcoaches and 23 vans. The coach business covers most key destinations along the entire Eastern Seaboard, including Canada, New England, New York and Washington, D.C., and its westernmost point of Branson, Mo. Today, the company's tours leave from Souderton/Franconia Township and also from Montgomeryville and New Britain.
Hagey points out that the company's passenger demographics began to widen 15 years ago.
"I think there's a misperception that coach travel is all about older riders. We've experienced an influx of younger riders and particularly of families in recent years," Hagey says. "We find that families like going on one-to-two-day trips - it allows them to get away, saves them the driving and the fuel cost and it turns out to be a very affordable mini-vacation. We've really become more of a family transportation company."
Hagey also points out that the company has also seen an influx in groups of international travelers on their lines, particularly international students attending local universities.
"We see a lot of international students being sent on class trips by local universities — the schools want them to see nearby cities and historic places like Gettysburg; Washington, D.C.; and New York City," says Hagey. "Fifteen years ago, we did not have that."
Hagey also says his family's coaches have been inside the White House gates several times, taking performers there since 1983.
Hagey Coach & Tours remains a very hands-on family business with parents, siblings and nephews involved in the company.
"My wife still teases me for taking her with me on a Saturday night to help clean buses, but that's the business...cleaning buses that is," says Hagey. "We are also very fortunate to have so many longtime dedicated and professional employees who know and enjoy the business."