Mayo Tours is moving forward after a late-night fire on July 31 destroyed the company’s shop and the two coaches inside.
The Holmes and Mayo families had been at the South Central Motorcoach Association (SCMA) regional meeting in Peachtree, Georgia, and were spending a few days making some vacation stops on the way home when they received the late-night call about the fire.
“We were in Alabama when we got the call at almost midnight that there was a fire,” said Scott Holmes, who owns the business with his wife, Rachel Mayo Holmes, and her brother, Preston Mayo.
The fire destroyed about 90% of the company’s parts inventory at a time when the industry is experiencing supply chain issues. The business also lost six computers, including a diagnostic computer.
“It hasn’t been easy,” said Scott Holmes. “All of our coaches have been out. … So far, we’ve been able to manage with just working on one bus here, one bus there.”
The process of rebuilding
Holmes has been able to find a building nearby to rent until the shop can be rebuilt.
“We’re going to be able to move in there, hopefully, by the end of next week and get things started getting our service work and the repairs done and go back to a somewhat normal life,” he said.
Holmes has been warned that the process of rebuilding after a fire can take at least a year. The cause of the fire is believed to be an air conditioning unit or its plug.
“The fire marshal, he couldn’t say 100%. He thinks that’s the area in which it started, but he’s not exactly sure (because he) couldn’t find any evidence. He sifted through ash almost piece by piece to see if he could find something, and he wasn’t able to completely determine (the cause). But that was kind of the general area where he was looking,” he said.
Holmes’ fleet is down to 27 coaches. The two in the shop had been sold and were waiting for pickup when the fire happened and they were destroyed.
Decades in the industry
The family’s involvement in the bus industry began in the late 1970s when Rachel’s dad, James Mayo, started his bus company. He had entertainer buses, and he did hunting and fishing trips to Mexico. His son, Preston, began driving for him at 18.
In 1997, James and Preston Mayo along with Scott Holmes bought an existing local charter company to expand the entertainer fleet operation. James has since retired from the business.
The United Motorcoach Association Member is grateful for the industry support. There have been emails, Facebook messages and calls offering assistance and encouragement.
“We are still getting calls,” said Holmes. “I just called a company in Virginia, from whom I was looking for help with a trip. The first words were, ‘Man, I’m so sorry.’ I had no idea he would even know. The outreach has been great. I work with a broker in Texas who said, ‘I’ve got you. Just tell me when you need help with the cleaning up, and I’ll send you three guys with shovels in hand.’”