A company rebrands to do more
BUSRide Motorcoach Industry Achievement Award winner J. Alan Thrasher and Reggie Haslam lead the Vectour Group in group coach moves
By David Hubbard
J. Alan Thrasher, co-owner and president of Thrasher Brothers Trailways and COO of the Vectour Group, Birmingham, AL received the BUSRide Motorcoach Industry Achievement Award in February during the UMA EXPO 2012 in Long Beach, CA. The award recognized Thrasher for his lifelong association with motorcoaches, inspired by his father, Jim Thrasher and the Thrasher Brothers gospel singing group now honored in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
The family coach business began in 1971 and later became a Trailways affiliate. Thrasher’s first job at age 11 was washing buses. He continued in the business throughout high school and college before going on the road for the next 10 years driving entertainer coaches. He returned to Birmingham and launched his own entertainment coach company in 1989.
In 2007 he joined his sister Alyce Davidson in acquiring the family business, and in the same year joined forces with Atlanta businessman Reggie Haslam Sr. to create what was then International Trailways, an innovative business model for ground transportation management. Haslam operated his own Haslam Coach in Atlanta for 25 years before moving to Birmingham to work with Thrasher Brothers Trailways.
Recently renamed the Vectour Group, the company is now expanding to focus on a wider range of services for more diverse consortiums of operators. The company does not own its own coaches. Rather it coordinates with other highly respected motor coach companies around the nation to form large scale temporary operations in any state or country for multiple coach moves. Thrasher says the goal is to not overshadow anyone, but achieve greater results by using pooled resources. Major events have included participation in the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, BC, Canada, the Democratic Convention in Denver, and the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, KY.
The contract for the 2010 Winter Olympics required just over 500 vehicles, 1,000 drivers, 20 mechanics and 30 staff members. According to Thrasher and Haslam these 58 companies from 34 states under the Trailways banner that served the 2010 Winter Olympics stand on record as the largest move of motorcoaches and drivers into another country from the U.S.
“People don’t understand how long it takes to plan really large events,” says Thrasher. “Reggie and I ate and slept in offices, airports, hotels and apartments, flying back and forth regularly for three years. We lived in Vancouver for nearly a year and only came back to Birmingham for Christmas. The buses came in January and left in late March.”
Later in 2010 Thrasher and Haslam also contracted with BP Oil for three months along the Gulf Coast during the oil spill clean-up.
“Vectour Group targets not only large events in sports, entertainment and commercial events, but also long-term contracts to provide transportation services to cities, municipalities, federal and state government entities, schools and colleges,” says CEO Reggie Haslam. “This company has always been about more than just buses.”
This summer the Vectour Group will establish a base in the U.K. to help British coach operators transport spectators to and from the Summer Olympics taking place in London and throughout England. The Vectour team has spent the last two summers in the U.K. visiting and meeting with independent motorcoach operators throughout England and Scotland. Thrasher says the independent operators say they look forward to working together under our new concept.
No stranger to events of such magnitude, Haslam had already worked the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 and Salt Lake City in 2002.
“When we first formed this company we really were two guys with an idea with nothing to lose,” says Thrasher. “We had everything to gain if we worked together, believed in an idea and followed our hearts.” BR