When Api Dogan, owner of the Chicago-area Infinity Transportation, bought his first ECoach 45 from Executive Coach Builders for his fleet, he never imagined that it would lead him to divesting himself of his entire motorcoach fleet and transitioning to the Supercoach XL.
Dogan’s company opened in 2006 as a limousine and sedan service provider, but client requests led to the addition of small buses in 2010. By 2017, he had to think even bigger, so he added several 51 passenger ECoach 45’s.
Business continued to grow, so he bought 10 motorcoaches.
“We had no choice but to buy these to keep the accounts happy, because they needed a bus that fits more than 55 people with a bathroom and luggage space,” Dogan said.
Initially, it appeared the addition of motorcoaches was a good financial move, but he later realized the costs of operating the ECoach 45 was significantly less. This prompted him to thoroughly examine his motorcoach operations, and he concluded that because of the initial capital outlay and continued operating costs for a motorcoach, he needed to look for an alternative.
Meeting customer needs
He worked with David Bakare, owner of Executive Coach Builders, to create a larger version of the ECoach 45 that checked all the boxes for his business needs. He wanted the same Freightliner chassis used for the ECoach 45 but with 54 seats, a restroom and a belly luggage area that was comparable in size to that of a motorcoach. The result was the Supercoach XL. He ordered 25 of them prior to the pandemic.
In some ways, the pandemic slowed down the implementation of his Supercoach XL fleet, but in another way it expedited it by forcing Dogan to take a deep look at his return on investment on his motorcoaches. By the end of 2022, he ordered more supercoaches and totally divested himself of his motorcoach fleet. He now operates 45 Supercoach XL’s built by Executive Coach Builder, with plans to add 18 more within the next 12 months.
Dogan said Infinity primarily provides transportation for large events such as school activities, sports teams, weddings and conventions.
“We have never had one customer complain about the comfort of the Supercoach XL,” he said. “These buses are able to handle every single job more effectively than traditional motorcoaches can handle.”
He has worked with clients to change the language in the RFPs, or requests for proposals, so the Supercoach XLs are an acceptable option along with traditional motorcoach models.
“They want 57 passenger seats. They want luggage space. They do not care if the engine is the front or the back. They do not care if it’s an MCI, Prevost or Supercoach XL,” he said.
Executive Coach Builders began using the Freightliner chassis in 2015 with the debut of the ECoach 45, followed by the 57-passenger Supercoach XL in 2018.
Bakare credits the company’s innovation to listening to customers like Dogan, who had been talking to manufacturers for years about his vision for a more cost-effective vehicle built on a conventional front engine chassis.
Dogan said that not only is the acquisition cost of the vehicle much less, but the operational expense is half of that of a motorcoach. Mechanical maintenance such as oil changes, tires, brakes and batteries cost less because parts are widely available.
“We were saving 50 to 60% on fuel because of the increased mileage,” said Dogan, noting the Super Coach XL gets 10-12 miles per gallon, which can be three times the mileage of motorcoaches. “We’re also saving on maintenance parts and mechanics salaries.”
A significant portion of the savings is going back into the business – and employees’ pockets.
“We are making way more than what we were making before, and we’ve been able to increase our drivers’ pay,” Dogan said. “We are paying our drivers more than anyone else can pay. Not only that, we are offering them benefits such as health insurance and giving a 4% match on their 401(k)s.”
He says that because of the lower expenses, Infinity has an advantage over his competitors when bidding on contracts.
Also, for the first time, this year the fleet is uniform, producing even more maintenance savings.
“Every single bus has the same engine, same AC system,” Dogan said. “It’s a dream come true for our mechanic and operations manager.
“We used to have our fleet manager running crazy because of the maintenance and running around with the downtime of the motorcoaches. Now, we no longer need a fleet manager because our operation manager can easily handle the fleet of Supercoach XLs with two mechanics.”
Dogan said the supercoaches are very reliable, and when they do break down, they are easy to repair.
“There’s so many places where our supercoaches can be fixed, unlike motorcoaches, because they’re built on the Freightliner chassis,” he said, noting that there are multiple Freightliner dealers in the Chicagoland area, and hundreds of service centers across the country for the U.S. truck manufacturer, a division of Daimler Trucks North America.
The insurance on the vehicles is also less expensive because repairs cost significantly less. Because repairs often are simple, they often can be done in-house without resorting to insurance claims.
Design cuts operating costs
The engine is in the front, unlike rectangular rear-engine motorcoaches. This design eliminates the need for having a third axle to support the weight in the back. The bus weighs a third less than traditional motorcoaches, a 20,000-pound difference. Additionally, when looking at the body lines of the Supercoach XL, it is obvious that the aerodynamics lends itself to greater fuel efficiencies than the flat windshield design of the traditional motorcoach.
The vehicle’s main entrance, which features a motorcoach-style door, is in the very front of the cab, allowing for more coach-style seating.
Rick Fugitt, General Manager for Executive Coach Builders, appreciates how Dogan has built his fleet. He is one of our many success stories and is a great example because he has tried the Supercoach XL and it has proven to be a viable alternative for him.
“He’s a big asset for our company and believes in the product,” Fugitt said. “We use his name a lot when we sell a product because he has tried the product, and it has proven to be a viable alternative.”
Dogan says he created Facebook group devoted to Supercoach XLs, that has grown to 1,200 members who either have the vehicles or are considering buying them.
“I created the page so people can reach out to me and ask questions. There is a huge interest in this product right now,” Dogan said.
“As a business owner, what is exciting is that thinking outside the traditional business model has afforded us the opportunity to create new avenues to make money, provide a better service to our clients, expand our affiliate network and take care of our biggest asset, our employees. What a win, win, win, win!”