Fresh out of college and ready to start his own business, Shannon Kaser launched what would become Royal Excursion in 1998 with one 12-passenger van.
“I always had a passion to run my own business,” he explains. “There was no reason for me to be in the transportation business, but it just kind of hit me after I graduated college.”
Initially, Kaser put tiny ads in newspapers and picked up people in parking lots for trips to and from a local casino and also did some shuttle work for local hotels. A year later, Kaser bought a limo bus — a cutting-edge vehicle at the time, he explains — and soon, his first motorcoach.
Today, Royal Excursion has grown into a full-service ground transportation company with 58 vehicles and 130 employees, providing tour and charter services, transit and paratransit services for the City of Elkhart, and scheduled services, mostly out of its home base in Mishawaka, Ind.
“When I initially started, I never thought I’d have motorcoaches, or really be able to keep almost 60 vehicles busy, but things evolved the way they did through hard work, timing, and really, a little luck,” says Kaser.
To keep each piece of business running efficiently and to maintain accountability, Kaser segmented Royal Excursion into three separate departments, with specific managers and team leaders for each. With a range of vehicles, which includes sedans, minibuses, party buses, limousines and motorcoaches, Kaser explains that his company is diversified enough to tackle any type of work.
“We’re unique because if it’s one person going to the airport or 500, we have the capability to provide that transportation,” he says. “We also have many options in terms of amenities that we put on those vehicles, so there’s something for everybody.”
The diversification also helps Royal Excursion maintain its workforce to some extent.
“Driving over the road isn’t for everybody, so what’s really nice is that if our drivers or management don’t feel like it’s the right fit, we have different areas to put them in,” he says. “If they prefer a set schedule and driving short distances, they can try driving transit instead of charter, for instance. Drivers are really the face of our company, so finding the right fit and keeping them happy is really important to us as we continue to grow.”
Recently, Royal Excursion took delivery of the first newly-enhanced Temsa TS 35E in North America from CH Bus Sales.
The mid-size motorcoach, constructed from stainless steel for extra durability and safety, offers the same amenities and ride as a full-size coach, but is ideal for smaller groups. One key enhancement to the TS 35E is the three-piece bumper and rear engine doors that allow for easier maintenance and better access. The new vehicle is Royal’s fifth Temsa in its fleet.
“First of all, the people at both Temsa and CH Bus Sales struck me as people who are truly invested in building and selling a quality product,” says Kaser about his decision to begin adding Temsa vehicles to his fleet. “Also, a lot of operators that I respect began using them and had nothing bad to say, so both of those things really gave me the confidence to try it out.”
Royal’s newest Temsa is equipped with Alcoa wheels, 110-volt plug outlets, highest quality leather seats, an REI A/V system, side and driver shades, and wood grain rubber flooring. New additions to the enhanced TS 35E include a Cummins EPA 16 engine; new front, rear and entryway styling; an enlarged driver’s area; a new dashboard cover with black LCD screen and buttons similar to the TS 45; hinged tail lights and an enlarged engine door for easy access; and standard electronic stability control.
“We’ve had great success with the Temsas in our fleet,” says Kaser. “I base that on three separate criteria: how do my mechanics like them, how do my drivers like them and how does the customer respond to them. Over the years, all three have been extremely positive.”