From bread deliveries to charters

Arrow Stage Lines celebrates 90 years of family, faith and buses

NORFOLK, Neb.—In 1928, Carl Busskohl started transporting mail and bread from Norfolk, Nebraska, to Sioux City, Iowa, and back in his Buick touring car.

Not long after, the locals were asking to ride in the empty seats and Carl realized he could charge a fee (25 cents, one way) for the trip. That realization resulted in the birth of Arrow Stage Lines.

Today, 90 years later, Arrow operates nationwide with 210 motorcoaches and 35 mid-size/mini-coaches out of locations in 12 cities spread across seven states.

“My great-grandfather put a lot of hard work in the business,” says Alex Busskohl, corporate operations and marketing specialist for the company. “He did a lot of people-moving during the Great Depression years focusing on line-run routes and military moves. That’s basically how he got this thing started.”

From transporting mail and bread and a few people, the operation has grown to providing charters, tours, shuttles and scheduled route service to any organization or group that has a desire and need for group land transportation.

The key to Arrow’s success, says Luke Busskohl, COO, and Alex’s older brother, is the great people who have, over the years, embraced the core values of the company, which include integrity, teamwork, safety and consistent customer care.

Carl’s son, Doyle, was born in the same year the company was started, 1928. He joined the company in 1950 after graduating from the University of Nebraska. It was Doyle who created the vision of a family owned transportation company.

Today, Doyle has four children (Steve Busskohl, Shari Riggert, David Busskohl and Susan Busskohl) and three great-grandchildren (Luke Busskohl, Cassie Riggert and Alex Busskohl) who are all involved in the operation of the company.

The 90-year-old patriarch has not been moving as fast as he used to but still has a strong, inquisitive mind that keeps his family members on their toes.

“Doyle really pushed his people hard to provide world-class customer service. He insisted on clean, well-maintained buses that were comfortable and safe to ride in,” shares Steve, Luke and Alex’s father, also president and CEO of the company. “Our mission statement today was crafted around these three main desires of his.”

While 90 years is an impressive number for any business, it’s especially impressive for Arrow being a family run bus company in its fourth generation of family leadership.

“Right now, we feel pretty fortunate that so many of our leaders are living out what it means to be a servant leader. This attitude has made a huge difference in our corporate culture,” notes Luke. “When you get a majority of your people looking out for the best interests of one another, it overflows to great customer care and successful trips for our clients.”

While the company has grown to over 600 employees, the family atmosphere has helped retain many long-time employees, some who have been with the company for 35 years or longer.

Even more impressive for the business is how diversity of opinions is handled among family members. Steve remembers his grandfather Carl saying that in a family business, the key is to “agree to disagree, agreeably.”

“It’s not like we don’t have differences, because we do,” says Steve. “But at the end of the day, due to our love and mutual respect for one another, we have never let our differences fracture the family.”

Not unlike many family businesses, the “faith factor” is the underlying element that truly holds us together, he says.

“The bottom line is the belief that ‘God owns it all,’ and we are simply stewards and managers of what He has given us,” points out Steve. “God has certainly blessed us over the years and our success, ultimately, is because of His favor and grace.”

Steve and Doyle both say they are tremendously grateful for the success of Arrow Stage Lines over the years and realize that it is through the strong and courageous efforts of so many outstanding drivers, mechanics, dispatchers, cleaners and administrative staff that have made Arrow what it is today.

“As the company continues to grow, the Busskohl family truly believes that their greatest days are ahead,” states Steve. “While new technologies will continue to change the way we do business, we know that the foundational values of faith, family, servant leadership and customer care will continue to be the bedrock of how we grow.”

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