Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

December 29, 2013

Booming Buses: Wine, tourism help fuel new industry

TRAVERSE CITY — They’re like ambassadors behind the wheel of a rolling party, the people who guide tourists and locals safely home after a day or night of alcohol-fueled fun.

But the men and women who operate party buses and limo services in the Grand Traverse region aren’t just drivers. They’re entrepreneurs.

Take, for instance, John O’Brien, owner of Celtic Transport and Logistics.

O’Brien launched his company eight years ago as its lone driver, and he piloted a used bus he bought from a nursing home. He wasn’t doing a glamorous job. Rather, he ferried party people safely home from downtown bars each night.

It didn’t take long for O’Brien to parlay hard work into a thriving business. He moved wedding parties from spot-to-spot and shuttled wine fans along the vineyard circuit. He didn’t realize at the time that he was on the leading edge of an industry ready to explode.

“We’ve been very fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to experience this growth,” O’Brien said.

And grow he did.

Read more in today’s Northern Living section on page 1E.

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