Jeff Polzien has decided to come out of retirement to return to the industry he loves. This week, he closed on a deal to purchase Pacific Monarch, on California’s Monterey Peninsula.
The United Motorcoach Association chairman said he was nostalgic for his early operator days before his company, Red Carpet Charters, became so successful.
“In all honesty, I built a company that was so big it was stressing me out to run it, so I sold it,” Polzien said. “I missed being the owner of a small, single-location company like I had years ago. So that’s what I’m doing now.”
Back to smaller operation
Pacific Monarch is located in Marina, California, with an office, garage and a fleet of about 13 coaches. About 18 people are on staff. Opened in 1985, the company has been active in the California Bus Association.
His partner in the venture is Kevin Guth, who does mergers and acquisition in the industry as part of Proteus Capital.
Going forward, the company will be more active in UMA, said Polzien, who has been on the Board of Directors of UMA since 2001 and served as Secretary and Treasurer before becoming Chairman in 2020.
Polzien said he feels an affinity for the down-to-earth people who are drawn to the industry. He enjoys the customers, the vendors and especially the employees.
Jeff Polzien began with three buses
Polzien was a certified public accountant with a love of transportation when, in 1984, an opportunity to acquire three old buses from a defunct tour operator fell into his lap. The timing was good for an inexperienced operator with an understanding of business to try to break into the motorcoach industry because deregulation had made it more competitive.
Red Carpet Charters grew from its base in Oklahoma City and operated nearly 60 motorcoaches with satellite facilities in Tulsa and Dallas-Fort Worth. Student Transportation Services LLC was launched in 2005 and grew to a fleet of about 350 school buses, providing transportation to districts in Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana.
In 2018, Red Carpet Charters and Student Transportation Services merged into Kincaid Coach Lines of Edwardsville, Kansas. Stepping away from the mammoth business allowed Polzien to sharpen his focus on his role as UMA Chairman, which proved time-consuming over the past two years as the industry struggled under the challenges of COVID-19.
Beautiful home base
The only hiccup in getting back into the industry is his non-compete agreement, which forced him to look for a business far from his longtime home of Oklahoma City.
He’s looking forward to spending time on the Monterey Peninsula. It doesn’t hurt that the central California community is known for its breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and world-class golf courses.
“It’s really tough duty for a golfer,” said Polzien, who plans to work on his golf game when he flies into Monterey to check on the business. During the warmer months, he’ll make that trek with his own small plane. “I’ll probably add a couple of days to the trip before or after for a little golf or take in the sites. I’ll enjoy that.”