MCI’s Unparalleled Service Network Keeps Champion Coach and Others on Track

It takes a service network as comprehensive as MCI’s to keep motorcoach fleets rolling reliably in today’s challenging motorcoach industry environment. 

Operators of MCI coaches know they can count on the leading manufacturer’s outstanding service network to reduce the cost of operations and provide better outcomes on the road. 

“In addition to the quality built into our coaches, MCI’s strength in service has helped small operators grow their business and large operators stay successful,” said Brent Maitland, MCI vice president. “And it’s always rewarding to hear from MCI operators about how well we’ve taken care of a problem or found a service or parts solution because we never stop trying to get through the challenges our customers face.”

Meet Champion Coach 

Handling the National Football League (NFL), baseball leagues and collegiate sports, Champion Coach keeps busy providing teams extraordinary service and a consistent product. Founders Craig and Hazel Dance saw an opportunity to raise the bar in sports travel and grew the 25-year-old Champion into a distinct brand with a fleet of 40-coaches, mostly MCI J4500s, by establishing strict safety measures, a code of professional conduct and relying on MCI for service support. 

“It honestly comes down to serviceability,” said Matt Dance, Champion’s director of safety and risk management, and the founders’ son. “If there’s a problem, we get a rapid response from our (MCI Technical Solutions Manager) field technician. We get a higher level of service from MCI.”

The Greenville, South Carolina, charter company transports professional and college athletic teams throughout the Southeast, with clients as far west as Texas and as far north as Illinois and Wisconsin. It often wins high-profile championship moves and serves the region’s largest corporate employers and national tour planners. 

Handling the Unexpected

At its start, Champion parked their new coaches at a nearby storage facility until they found a larger building with a service garage of its own, all the while supported by MCI and its support team.

Today, Champion operates a multimillion-dollar state-of-the-art service center and business office located on 18 acres off I-85 in Greenville, with three service bays, and its own technicians dedicated to upholding Champion’s reputation for punctuality and safety. 

Before any departure, a coach doesn’t leave without an in-depth pre-trip inspection. “We determine if a belt needs to be replaced or if an oil change is merited even if the coach might not be due for one,” explained Dance. “Techs also make sure all the cabin outlets and lights work, so as not to displease a passenger.”  

These practices, along with Champion’s preventative maintenance policies, might take a little more time, noted Dance, but result in tremendous savings in the long run and peace-of-mind for its drivers.

Over the road, Champion uses Saucon technology to track key vehicle data and is especially conscientious about tire wear and air pressure.

“With so much construction and debris on the roads today, tires, followed by belt replacement, have the highest probabilities of problems on the road,” said Dance. “No matter where we travel, we count on MCI’s emergency roadside assistance if there’s trouble, and find MCI’s Blackwood (New Jersey), Des Plaines (Illinois) and Dallas service centers accommodating to any urgent, routine or warranty situation.” 

Champion works closely with MCI’s sister company, NFI Parts, to make sure essential parts are reordered every 30 to 60 days, which has helped during recent supply chain issues, explained Dance. 

Dance sees his current position leading safety and risk management as something integral to the business, a responsibility shared by everyone who works for the enterprise. 

“Maintaining driver qualifications, inspections, preventive maintenance and fleet management are everyday duties done by people across the company that go hand in hand to fulfill our stringent safety goals,” he said. “I talk about this all the time.”

Having access to MCI’s technical expertise provides an extra layer of security. Dance uses MCI Academy’s online curriculum to train drivers and advance the skills of technicians, and he says he completed coursework on his own to acquire greater product knowledge. 

When a diesel mechanic with experience working on transit buses interviewed for a position at Champion, CEO Craig Dance reached out to MCI and asked if Dennis Walker, MCI’s TSM responsible for the Southeast region, could be present to help assess the candidate’s qualifications, trusting Dennis would help ask the right questions. Afterwards, Champion sent its new hire to train directly with MCI, confident he’d learn all about the MCI J4500 coach firsthand. 

“No other manufacturer has the depth of resources that MCI offers an operator,” Matt Dance said.

“MCI is always willing to do whatever it takes to strengthen our partnership,” added Craig Dance. 

Boots-on-the-Ground Support Teams

MCI’s service reach continues to expand. Operators are supported through MCI’s Technical Call Center and Emergency Roadside Assistant at 800-241-2947, and a brilliant team that has grown to 15 Technical Solution Managers (TSMs) with a commitment to finding solutions to whatever challenges motorcoach operators come across.

Throughout North America, MCI Service Centers employ MCI factory-trained technicians including experts at heavy-duty body work at locations in Des Plaines, Illinois; Hayward, California; Blackwood, New Jersey; Dallas, and Montreal, Quebec, Canada and a new location in Los Angeles, California. 

 “Considering MCI’s rich 90-year history, our core values remain unchanged,” Maitland expressed. 

“We are reliability driven and dedicated to building coaches with the lowest cost of operation and supporting our brand with a boots-on-the-ground support team that caters to operators’ needs.”