Metro Magazine

SEP-OCT 2014

Magazine serving the bus and rail transit & motorcoach operations since 1904

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 63 of 143

60 < m ETRO m AGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2014 Gladys Gillis her company implemented in the de- sign and build of their new facility, Gil- lis is the most proud of the rainwater har- vesting system. Additionally, Starline Luxury Coach- es has been named one of the top 100 fastest growing companies in the region more than once over the last 10 years. Gil- lis is also on the board and the executive committee for the UMA, is involved in the Northwest Motorcoach Association, and recently became a proud member of the International Motorcoach Group. According to Gillis, it's critical for her to stay active in the industry, citing a num- ber of unfunded mandates, such as mini- mum wage and paid-time of mandates. "It's possible that if you're not speaking up for yourself, no one is," she says. When she isn't running her company, Gillis spends time on her boat in the San Juan Islands, does single- track moun- tain biking, and for the last couple of years, has been doing an ongoing RV trip around the country. — Kelsey Nolan Gladys Gillis, the CEO and co-owner of Starline Luxury Coaches in Seattle, says "it never occurred to me that I might own a bus company or be in small business." Instead, she studied industrial technol- ogy, energy sources and power at Cen- tral Washington University expecting to teach shop. But after she completed her student teaching, she says teaching chil- dren wasn't for her. She was then hired on at the engineer- ing department at Boeing where she stayed for 13 years. Tough she had a few diferent roles, her fnal position with the company was manager of cost and qual- ity initiatives which, she explains, is the marriage between organizational devel- opment and process engineering. "I had so much fun doing that job they should have charged me as I came through the gate every day," Gillis says. In 1998, Gillis's business partner Becky Pritchett, now the president of Starline Luxury Coaches, who had previously owned a limousine and taxi company in Medford, Ore. approached her about starting a bus company, because women were seldom seen in the industry and the two of them could qualify for a disadvan- taged business enterprise (DBE). Gillis explains that through a DBE with an in- ternational school bus company, Starline Luxury Coaches got its start with three paratransit mini-buses. In addition to running those three mini-buses during the day, Gillis and Pritchett chartered them at night and on weekends allowing the company to buy more buses. After 16 years, Gillis now co- owns a 70-bus operation with two loca- tions and 125 employees. Her main pri- ority is to ensure that her six departments are running smoothly, drama-free and in compliance. Gillis' patience, calmness and innate sense of process clarity help her manage her employees. One of the things Gillis says she is most proud of the company for is that over the course of the last 14 years, Starline Luxu- ry Coaches has paid more than $30 mil- lion in payroll to some 800 employees. Te company has also spent another $30 million in the region, helping to boost the economy. "To think you've built a company that provides a decent income to people who want to work here and has put a consider- able amount of money into a local econ- omy to keep it moving — that feels like a real achievement," she says. After Starline Luxury Coaches moved to a new facility in 2010, it implement- ed a number of environmentally-friendly initiatives, including the use of a rainwa- ter harvesting system. Since the Pacif- ic Northwest is so rainy, Gillis installed a 3,000-gallon holding tank underneath the parking lot that captures rainwater, which the company uses to wash its bus- es each night. In 2011, Starline received awards for its sustainable eforts, includ- ing the United Motorcoach Associa- tion's (UMA) Green Highway Award. Of all the environmental initiatives WOMEN IN TRANSPORTATION In addition to running Starline Luxury Coaches with her partner Becky Pritchett, Gillis is also heavily involved with the UMA and the Northwest Motorcoach Association. CEO TITLE Starline Luxury Coaches ORGANIZATION Seattle CITY

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Metro Magazine - SEP-OCT 2014