The Sixties – Stout’s in The Beginning
Before the country had witnessed the first manned spaceflight, Harry Stout Sr. a decorated WWII veteran, had launched what would in time become one of the most respected transportation companies in the industry.
It began when he shifted his career path from rubber factory worker to driver. His strength and stamina were evident, even early on, for he drove not just for one company but two. He would awaken at the crack of dawn and deliver milk and butter for Stoy’s Dairy.
Without a break he would travel to his second job, driving a school bus for Ewing Charter Service. It did not take long for his entrepreneurial drive to kick in to gear. He found himself buying a “his and her “milk trucks; one for himself and one for his wife, and lifelong companion, Marian. The family business was born.
With children in tow – Peggy with Dad & Harry Jr. with Mom, the Stout‘s would load up their trucks and make their deliveries. Harry Jr. recalls the excitement of the early morning trips all the while, secretly inside him, his own dream was developing.
With an unprecedented motivation, Harry Sr. left Ewing charter and established his second business, Stout’s Bus Service. After their children were old enough to attend school, Marian became one of the first female school bus drivers in the area.
Stout’s Bus was founded with the forward thinking that emulates the mindset of the present day Stout’s. Buying two buses instead of one, allowed for a back-up if one was taken out of service. Buying used vs. new was smart money, two 1953 Chevy school busses for around $2k.
The Edgewood Inn, which was a parking lot for Harry, soon became obsolete and he needed a place to call his own. He found “Skunk Hollow”, a swampland which had long been a dumping ground for toxins and oil. Where another man might have seen wasteland, Harry saw potential. The monumental task of cleaning up Skunk Hollow was typical of his passion for “making something bad – good” and “making something good – better.”
He built Stout’s Bus Service at 20 Irven Street, Ewing, NJ, where the present company thrives today.
The Seventies – A Decade of Turbulence and Change
For Stout’s, it was a time of growth and solidarity.
An unyielding commitment to company and community… innovative thinking… alternative perspectives and truth in business were, and are, the very soul of Stout’s.
Harry could be found at his desk from early morning till late night, always working towards “something better”. He, along with the Ewing township police traffic department, implemented safety meetings and driver training classes on a regular basis. He introduced first aid training to his drivers. Harry was one of the first to install two-way radios in his vehicles, as well as his personal car and home.
The company motto, “Precious Cargo” punctuated his commitment to his company and community. Drivers received safety awards, attendance rewards and endless “at-a-boys” symbolizing Harry’s appreciation for them. He employed neighbors and friends, provided for their families’ needs and set up a babysitting center on the company grounds to assist mothers who wanted to work. As a result of his selfless spirit, many employees remained with Stout’s until retirement.
Vicki Cribb, a 30+ year employee, remembers Harry as always treating his drivers like family. It is this connection between employer and employee that drives Stout’s standards to unprecedented levels, then and now.
Now employing both children, Peggy and Harry Jr., Harry and Marian surged forward, tackling the new challenges that faced the school bus industry: such as, occupant restraints, Handicapped Children Act of 1975, racial integration, and mass transit competition. Harry Jr. absorbed his father’s drive and entrepreneurial spirit at an early age. Working three jobs; a sanitation worker, school bus driver and part-time bartender. He clocked more working hours while being a student, then some full-time adult workers. His wife Dena repeated history, as she too drove for Stout’s with her first son, Tim, riding along. Even before their marriage Dena was actively involved in the business, typing routes on her electric typewriter. It wasn’t until their second child was due that she decided to become a stay-at-home mom, yet even then her support, as Marian’s, was relentless. Stout’s thrived on the support and grew ever stronger.
Stout’s Bus Service Grows… Stout’s Charter Is BORN!
Harry – a.k.a. Shane, was pushing his parent’s school bus company to new heights with extra-curricular trips. He was adding revenue, not overhead, which powerfully displayed his natural “business man” abilities, yet his gut feelings yearned for more.
And Then There Were Two
A part-time driver position at STARR gave Shane the training necessary to drive a motorcoach. Before long, his instincts led him to his father with the confirmation that his own business was what he needed to fulfill his dreams. Trepidation aside, his father supported the idea with a loan for $20,000, which Shane used to buy two 1974 GMC 4905 coaches from STARR and Stout’s Charter Service, Inc. was born, becoming one of only 1,500 motorcoach companies operating in the U.S. His dad went a step further, scouring the entire phone book to create a mailing list of potential clients, and the envelope stuffing began.
Shane and his wife, Dena, invested countless hours in the business. Shane recalled an indispensable figure in the early days – Sidney Miles, the unsung hero who handled countless odd jobs. “Without him, Stout’s wouldn’t be where it is today,” said Shane.
The company’s first trip was a two-bus move to a Phillies game for St. James Church. Ironically, one of the buses cancelled. Harry reluctantly sent the second driver, Mark Case, home. At that moment he realized that his role as entrepreneur had transformed to leader. He would now, and for decades to come, control the welfare of those he employed. This awareness, along with attentiveness to the needs of customers, were invaluable factors to the rooted success of Stout’s.
Stout’s bought two more vehicles in 1984 and shortly after, traded one for another, and then another. The fleet was taking shape. However, it was 1986 when the Stout image embarked on a monumental transformation. Shane and Dena flew to Germany and toured the Kassbohrer factory, the manufacturer of SETRA, a European touring coach. The outside was vividly painted, making it livelier than the silver paneled American units. The vehicle kneeled, allowing easier boarding. The interior featured plush seats, arm and foot rests and panoramic views.
The sixth motorcoach added to the fleet would propel Stout’s into a class of its own, for this type of vehicle was scarce among US operators. Adhering to his dad’s favorite saying – “Columbus took a chance,” Shane did the same with the new style coach and it paid off.
He eventually stopped driving to focus on the operations of the company, educating his staff about his passion for service and his drive to be the best.
The Nineties… World Wide What?
Shane recalls him and his wife, Dena, spending countless hours at their small office on Spruce St. Accompanied by an office manager, dispatcher, clerk and a handful of drivers, they worked relentlessly to build their young company. Their hard work would pay off during this decade of monumental growth.
Many employees would come and go, yet an amazing 20, who came aboard in the 90’s, remain today. Shane’s leadership was intense and challenging. His team responded with an unyielding commitment to excellence and they would go on to be instrumental in the company’s growth.
(Footnote: July 11, 2014 -the number stands at 17 – 1 has passed and 2 retired).
As travel and tourism grew in the U.S. so did the operation. With his team’s experience being deeply rooted in transportation and logistics Stout saw an opportunity to dissolve the tour department and focus on his greatest asset, the motorcoach. Stout’s fleet was second to none. He constantly reinvested in new coaches keeping the fleet 5 years or newer at all times, boasting of all the latest amenities.
He formed relationships with tour operators, such as Sunset Tours, owned by Richard Schulman, to develop the tours, while Stout’s focused on the motorcoach. An aggressive and disciplined sales staff would execute his business plan and Stout’s grew to 21 vehicles over the next few years.
Shane was living his dream, yet he truly realized his accomplishments as he watched two of his three sons, Tim and Shawn, join the payroll. They were ready to make their mark on the family business. Tim graduated from college and would lean towards the school bus company, which Shane and his sister Peggy took control over following the well-deserved retirement of their dad in 1992. Shawn graduated high school and while attending college would favor the motorcoach company.
It was an incredible decade only to be surpassed by the next. Stayed tuned as we survive the Y2K scare and move into the 21st century.
The 2000’s The Evolution of Stout’s Transportation
What was coined “Skunk Hollow” in the 1960’s has been transformed into a state-of-the-art 8,000 square foot office e building with a 3-bay garage and wash bay. The blue prints behind the construction boast of energy efficient utilities, an environmentally friendly heating system utilizing waste oil as fuel, and a welcoming décor. “An investment of pride”, says Stout, “A work place that will set the stage for our future.”
Stout’s Charter Service would relocate its two locations, office and garage, to Irven St. and share the new facility with Stout’s Bus Service, bringing the two family businesses together under one roof. Stout’s purchased 3 properties adjacent to Irven St. which they used to comfortably accommodate the increased need for employee and vehicle parking. Each company would function as separate corporations, but operations would naturally begin to overlap. Shane watched over his two companies as the infrastructure began to fuse together. After a couple years he made a bittersweet, monumental decision to sell Stout’s School Bus
Service. He brought together his strongest players and built what is known today as Stout’s Transportation.
The sales force focused their energy on new markets: corporations, universities, international passengers, cruise companies and even Health and Human Services, which practically doubled the fleet in less than a year. Technological advances kept pace with the demand and provided the logistics needed to maintain the company’s level of customer service. The garage began offering repair services to local bus, truck and RV companies.
Before the decade came to a close all three of Shane and Dena’s sons would add
a page to the family business portfolio.
Tim and Shawn became partners and created “Four Seasons Transportation” which they run together,
While maintaining their full-time status with Stout’s Transportation. Harry IV would emerge as General Manager to his father’s latest endeavor… the purchase of a franchise called CiCi’s Pizza Buffet.
“Things are going well,” Stout said. “We have a great staff and we have everything in place for continued expansion. We can’t wait to see what the next decade brings.”