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Road to new market goes through Elmira

Sponsored by REAP (Research Entrepreneurs Accelerating Prosperity), Quarry Communications and Christie Digital Systems, the Felt Lab facility provides a unique setting for artistic and innovative collaboration.

A new business has literally rolled into Elmira.

Kunkel Bus Lines Ltd., a family-owned and operated transportation company from Hanover, has established a new depot in town offering buses and coaches for hire.

The company’s goal has always been to provide personalized service, combined with a high level of customer satisfaction.

Allan DeBoer is working to establish a Kunkel Bus Lines depot in Elmira. He acts as the depot manager, sales associate and part-time driver for the company. [colin dewar / the observer]
The bus line was founded 60 years ago by Jim Kunkel. Eventually his sons Stephen and Michael took over the family business and have been expanding the line ever since.

Originally the company serviced all of Grey and Bruce Counties before moving west of Oshawa and entering Waterloo Region.

“We found that we were servicing a lot of the area from Kitchener, Toronto, Elmira, Guelph and London already, we have seen that our prices are competitive with other companies in the area, and we made the decision to officially open a depot in the region,” said Allan DeBoer.

DeBoer is working to establish the company in Elmira and works as a jack-of-all-trades, as he is the depot manager, sales associate and works as a driver for the company.

“I sell clients their trips and then I take them on those trips. I do it all,” said DeBoer. “We service this corridor quite a bit and (Kunkel) thought that if we have a depot down here there would not be as much deadhead [empty buses heading back] and that will make our prices even better for our customers, allowing us to service them better.”

With available land and a suitable location near Arthur and Union streets close to Highway 85, the company decided Elmira was a perfect fit.

“We felt that Elmira was fairly central in the region as well as having a good proximity to our main depot in Hanover. Elmira being a small community was a perfect fit, as Kunkel grew from a small community in Mildmay and then moved to Hanover. The company has always been community minded and we like the small community feel.”

Kunkel is a full-service company, with coaches and school buses with approximately 150 units running daily during the school year. There are 10 coaches in the fleet.

Anyone can rent the coaches, as Kunkel is a wholesale company, meaning they will rent to anyone including other coach companies who need extra help if they are having a busy season. They have worked for Greyhound and Coach Canada and are available to small independent local groups who might want to do a trip to Toronto for the day to go to the theatre or ball game. The company is also equipped to handle stag and does, weddings or parties.

The coach line is capable of doing local runs or wherever their clients want to go across the province or trips south into the United States. The company has three 30-passenger mini-coaches that work well for small functions.

There will be two coaches located at the Elmira depot, with more available anytime they are needed.

“This is a small division of the company. Kunkel doesn’t want to come in and drop 10 coaches in here. The plan is to start small and build it up into a thriving business in this area over time.”

Safety is a large priority for the company, DeBoer stressed. Buses are checked regularly and highway coaches are checked every month and must pass a safety check on a regular basis.

“We as a company are safety conscious and want all our drivers to be so as well when they are on the road: it is better to arrive alive with no dents in the bus than to be in a hurry and cause issues.”

Currently the office is located upstairs of the Elmira Truck Service building at 25 Earl Martin Dr. The plan, according to DeBoer, is to expand the business and eventually purchase a building with wash bays and hire mechanics and personnel to operate the depot.

“We would like to hire local drivers and as the business grows we want to see local people being hired on.”

For more information about Kunkel Bus Lines visit their website at www.Kunkelbuslines.com.

 

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