Fairfax, VA – May 17, 2016 – Two well-known names in the passenger transportation industry – Hotard and Trailways — have come together as Eva M. Hotard takes the helm as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Trailways Transportation System, Inc. (Trailways), effective immediately. Ms. Hotard succeeds Gale C. Ellsworth, who is retiring after serving nearly two decades as the organization’s President/CEO. “Gale did an excellent job. We really can’t thank her enough and truly hate to see her leave—but wish her much happiness in her new phase of life,” stated Ron R. Moore, Trailways Chairman and President of Burlington Trailways in West Burlington, IA. A search committee composed of Trailways Board members unanimously selected Ms. Hotard from a field of more than 400 applicants.
“Eva ran a very successful bus company. She has been in the business for many years; worked her way up through the ranks and has a wonderful reputation as a talented business leader. She knows all of the trials and tribulations that independent bus companies go through. Eva clearly understands everything about the industry,” Mr. Moore said. “We selected her because of her experience and her leadership skills. Like Gale, Eva is also passionate about the industry. “
Search Committee Chairman Jonathan T. Berzas, President and CEO of Fullington Trailways in Clearfield, PA, stated: “Ms. Hotard is well respected in the motorcoach industry and brings a wealth of knowledge to the Trailways organization. She led a family motorcoach business based in New Orleans through a tremendous growth period. We chose her because of her extensive knowledge and experience in the industry.”
“The 80-year-old Trailways brand is very powerful. It’s a tremendous strength. So, building on the brand and leveraging resources are what I want to concentrate on,” Ms. Hotard said. “A strong brand helps everyone on the Trailways Team.”
“The companies in the Trailways system are exuding optimism to grow and to embrace the future. They work very well together,” she added. “With the experience of my own growth as a leader in the school of hard knocks, I can help to shorten the learning curve while the companies are in a growth mode. I’m going to be working with the stockholder companies to help them with revenue management, operations and driver management, including meeting the challenge of attracting and retaining the next generation of drivers. I’ll also work on developing a very strong sales culture.”
Safety will be another critical area of focus for Ms. Hotard. According to Trailways Chairman Moore, “Our goal is to position Trailways as this industry’s leader in safety, and Eva has a passion about safety.”
Combining the emphasis on safety with driver management, Ms. Hotard anticipates implementing at Trailways, elements of an online, modular, computer-based learning program for drivers. She has been collaborating with the Alliance Safety Council to introduce the program to the motorcoach industry to improve driver performance and to support company owners in risk mitigation.
“Corporate cultures that embrace learning and growing always end-up leading the pack. So, raising the standard of performance to become the model of great service to customers will be a top priority; and being able to work with companies in the industry that I grew up with—is very exciting to me,” Ms. Hotard said.
The Hotard Family has been in the bus business since 1935, when Etienne Hotard launched a line run service between the Eastbank River Parishes and New Orleans, LA. In 1960, Eva’s father started Hotard Coaches as a one-bus operation offering scheduled service between Vacherie and New Orleans. It later became known for its charter transportation services.
Eva Hotard, one of nine siblings, all of whom worked in the family business at one point, started her career with Hotard Coaches, Inc., in 1977. She was elected General Manager in 1984 and President/CEO in 1993, a position she held until 2004. Ms. Hotard had overall responsibility for the operating entities, two leasing entities and a partnership with land holdings. Under her leadership, Hotard Coaches grew from a three-vehicle operation to a fleet of more than 100 vehicles. It became one of the largest travel services companies in the Gulf South, with offices in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, LA; Biloxi, MS; and, Washington, D.C.
During her leadership tenure, the Hotard family businesses expanded to include a destination management company for large themed events and meetings; purchase of a receptive tour operator; plus, 50 percent ownership (in partnership with the New Orleans Steamboat Company) of Gray Line of New Orleans, Inc., a sightseeing company. She also led company initiatives to develop a customer service monitoring system, customized operating and fleet management software, convention sales systems and a system for training hundreds of good drivers.
In 2005, she drew upon her experience hiring and training key managers to execute growth strategies when she became a management consultant and executive coach. She formalized her consulting business as High Performance Quest, LLC, in 2010. With emphasis on leadership development and clear growth strategies, she focused on working with owners and CEOs of small and medium-size businesses to transform their companies into high-performance organizations. Ms. Hotard herself was trained in executive coaching by renowned leadership coach Lee Thayer. She participated for 10 years as a member of The Executive Committee (TEC), a CEO development organization.
“It’s a challenging transition for companies to grow from an entrepreneurial-style organization to a well-managed, styled organization. I enjoy working in that area,” Ms. Hotard said. “You have to be really strong in your systems, strategies and diligent in your management. That’s what makes you a strong competitor.”
“My passionate purpose is helping people journey from who they are to who they ought to be to lead high-performance organizations,” she added. “Leadership mastery is a journey like no other; it brings true meaning to life. Great leaders create a better future for their organizations. The Trailways Board is open to new opportunities; I’m looking forward to being of service to them.”
Ms. Hotard has held numerous leadership positions in industry associations over the years. She was a founding member and first chairman of the International Motorcoach Group (IMG), and has served on many organizational boards and committees—the National Motorcoach Network; Executive Committee & board, American Bus Association (ABA); board & Sales and Marketing Committee of Gray Line Worldwide; board of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau; and, board of the New Orleans Convention and Tourism Bureau.
In 2000, Ms. Hotard was honored with the METRO Magazine Motorcoach Industry Achievement Award “for her service to the industry’s associations and for her example and leadership as a successful provider of safe and high-quality passenger service.”
Her career has not been limited to the passenger transportation industry. During 2003-2005, as a partner in a start-up, ready-mix concrete company, Baker Ready Mix Concrete & Building Materials, in New Orleans, Ms. Hotard served as financier and played a key role in the planning process for all aspects of the business.
Serving as the lead on a complex real estate acquisition, Ms. Hotard and her brother, Eric Hotard, also became investment partners with French Quarter hotelier Michael Valentino in the purchase of the 225-room Canal Street Hotel in downtown New Orleans. The hotel is undergoing restoration and is scheduled to reopen in 2017.
Most recently, Ms. Hotard spoke on February 22, 2016, at a stockholder roundtable on “Customer Service and Driver Professionalism” at Trailways’ 80th Anniversary Stockholders Meeting and Conference in Cape Coral, FL.
Gale Ellsworth described Eva Hotard as a warm, solid, keen and savvy businesswoman. “Trailways is extremely privileged to have Eva join its Team. I am confident she will lead Trailways onward and upward,” said Ms. Ellsworth.
Print Press Release PDF: Trailways Appoints New President & CEO.5.16.16
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About Trailways: Trailways was founded in 1936 by five independent motorcoach operators. Today it consists of 66 independently owned and operated motorcoach companies located throughout North America and Europe, most family-owned. Trailways drivers operate a wide variety of more than 12,000 passenger transportation vehicles. Through the more than 100 companies in its Affiliated Partners Program, the organization also maintains a close working relationship with industry-related suppliers and vendors, as well as other tour and travel service entities. Visit: www.trailways.com; Phone: 703-691-3052