Hawkeye Stages’ 70th anniversary marked by delivery of new coaches

As Hawkeye Stages is celebrating its 70th anniversary,  the Iowa operator is upgrading its fleet. It recently took delivery of two new motorcoaches, an MCI J4500 and an MCI J3500, completing an eight-coach order.

Over the past two years, the Iowa operator purchased six 45-foot J4500 and two 35-foot J3500 coaches with custom interiors and luxurious passenger amenities. The MCI clean-diesel vehicles featured plush seating from Amaya, an enhanced REI sound system, a rear window for more natural light, and Bendix Wingman Fusion – a leading Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) safety suite.

Hawkeye Stages
Hawkeye Stages is celebrating its 70th anniversary.

The purchases are part of Hawkeye’s strategy to keep a young, pristine fleet that is equipped with the latest safety options.

“The new models have brought the age of our 19-coach fleet to the youngest we’ve ever had, allowing us to maintain a quality brand standard,” said Steve Tjossem, the third-generation co-owner of Hawkeye Stages along with his wife, Kari. “We are still a bit amazed to walk through the garage, seeing the stunning new MCI coaches and the competitive advantage – firepower – they provide us.”

Decades of growth

Founded in 1954 by Tjossem’s father, grandfather, and uncle, Hawkeye Stages started with line-run service, moved into charters, added tours, and grew through diversification and customer service. In 2006, Hawkeye Stages started a new business called Legacy Tour & Travel, and later formed Legacy Student Travel. Now combined into Legacy Travel Group, the company has provided a total travel experience for the past 10 years. 

“All three customer segments have been critical to our success,” said Tjossem. “Each division makes the other stronger and allows us to operate more in line with who we want to be.” 

Legacy Travel Group members are Hawkeye’s largest clients. The company also has long-standing relationships with Luther College, in Hawkeye Stage’s hometown of Decorah, Iowa, and Wartburg College, in Waverly, Iowa, that go back to the company’s earliest days. 

With garages in Decorah, Newton, and Waterloo, Iowa, the company has served customers from all over the state as well as parts of Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin,. offering travel options throughout the U.S. and elsewhere. 

Return to MCI

Hawkeye purchased its first MCI coach in 1982 and continued purchases until 2000. After a pause, Hawkeye returned to MCI with its most recent order.

“It feels right to resume and strengthen our partnership with MCI,” said Tjossem. “MCI’s post-sales support has been excellent and provides reassurance that we made the right decision. Good relationships hold more value than ever.” 

Brent Maitland, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, MCI, echoed Tjossem’s sentiment.

“We are happy that Hawkeye chose MCI for their new coach purchase,” he said. “We will continue to earn their confidence by providing a consistently high level of service and support to keep their fleet on the road.”

Tjossem has worked to make way for the fourth generation of leadership by including his children Kirsten and Tanner Tjossem in the business. He has also strengthened employee teams by implementing a 36-hour work week and acknowledging the need for a healthy work-life balance. 

“Our staff has a lot of autonomy, so it’s critical to have the right skill sets in place,” said Tjossem, who grew up working beside his father, Lawrence Tjossem. “It has been a rewarding experience to be a part of this business. Our hope is that the next generation takes full advantage of the opportunity to learn and benefit from the vast experience in our company and then offer their fresh perspective to make us an even better business. We feel good about our future.”

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