The Herald, Sharon,
PA Published Thursday, Nov. 20, 1997


Bortner sells bus, tour business

By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor

Bortner Bus & Tour Co. has ended its 53-year run as an independent bus carrier with its sale to Global Passenger Services LLC, the company said Wednesday.

No sales price was disclosed. The deal, which was completed last Thursday, also included the sale of Bortner School Bus Inc. to Global, a newly formed bus carrier based in Farmingdale, N.J. For now, both Bortner companies will retain their names.

When first approached by Global executives several months ago about a possible sale, Ed Bortner, sole owner of both South Pymatuning Township bus companies, refused to consider a sale, he said.

A week later Global executives returned and coaxed Bortner into at least considering it. After mulling over the idea, Bortner allowed Global to kick the tires. Within two months the deal was sealed.

A rapidly changing environment in the charter motorcoach industry ultimately led Bortner to sell the company.

``Right now little companies like mine are being taken over by larger ones,'' Bortner said.

With a typical tour bus fetching between $350,000 and $400,000 each, growing a charter bus company for a small operator has its limitations. Bortner owns nine tour buses, three mini-buses and 15 school buses.

``Global has the resources where if they need buses they can put them here next week,'' Bortner said.

In the few days since the deal has been completed Bortner already sees cost savings because of Global's size. When ordering spare parts for buses, Bortner discovered Global gets a 12 percent discount from a supplier.

Bus purchases under Global could result in up to a 10 percent savings which means bus prices would be shaved between $35,000 and $40,000, he said.

As part of the deal Bortner will remain on board as a consultant for three years. But a key part of the deal was that all 54 of the business' employees will stay in place.

``I've had tremendous loyalty from employees and it meant a lot to me to keep them here,'' Bortner said.

Still, parting with the business that was his family's bread and butter for years was a hard decision, Bortner said.

Started by his parents, Gertrude and the late Paul Bortner, the business at first operated out of their home.

Bortner, who lives across the road from the bus companies' offices, took over 26 years ago.

A Global spokesman on Tuesday declined to comment on the deal.

Since forming in July, Global has bought a Florida-based charter bus company and a tour bus operation in New York. Global is channeling its newly purchased companies into two operations, Travelways Inc., a motorcoach and entertainment transportation company and Student Transportation of America Inc., a school transportation provider.

Global has partnered with Golder, Thoma, Cressey, Rauner Inc., a private Chicago investment firm which has committed $1.2 billion to fund Global's acquisitions. Global is headed by Denis J. Gallagher, former chairman and chief executive of Sightseeing Tours of America Inc., a New York sightseeing concern.

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