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This is How We Started:
From the Thomas Miller, President
My business partner and I grew up in St. Cloud Minnesota we went to the same school, at the young age of 20 and 21 years old we were eager to own our own businesses. After graduating from St. Cloud Technical High School, I decided to travel around the country solo for a couple of years. Fresh out of high school in 1981, I was looking for some direction in my life, so I moved to Wyoming, and then on to Arizona. I worked various jobs such as an electrician, tire store technician, construction and a cable TV auditor. I also had learned some automotive skills from my father's business in Clearwater, Mn. My father owned an automotive repair and wrecking yard business. His business was at our home, so I was raised learning a sense of business and automotive skills. These skills were a very important part of my success early on.
My break came in 1984 when I partnered up with a high school buddy and started Antelope Valley Airport Express Inc. an airport shuttle & charter bus company to service passengers from the High Desert and the Santa Clarita communities to LAX. Both communities did not have shuttle service to the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) at that time. In fact, we were one of the first 5 shuttle operators at the time. We purchased three used vans and built a custom luggage trailer. We started with 4 scheduled round trips to LAX per day and within 3 weeks we were up to 6 trips per day. Times were tough; we were renting a townhouse and used the garage as a repair shop to service the fleet. We were undercapitalized so we had to drive most of the trips, driving ten hours each day and covering the office. Between trips I would find time to maintain the fleet. It proved to be a greatly needed service in a community with such a tremendous population growth that offered no other service of its kind.
I got married to Karla in 1990 and we bought our first house in Lancaster. The house was on a commercially zoned lot, so we moved the vehicle fleet over to the house. We continued to use the two local hotels as our pickup points. With the help of a SBA loan, In 1991 we built a 7,000 sq. ft. building behind the house with an office and a repair shop to accommodate the business. Since our pickup locations were at local hotels, we did not get much foot traffic at our office. My wife and I raised two young children while conducting business from the Lancaster office until 1996 when we were able to purchase a more traditional house for our family. Consolidating my home and office together proved to be a key component to our business success while trying to raise a family and run a business that operates 24/7.
Up until 1997 our fleet consisted of vans and minibuses. A local motor coach bus operator sold their own business and moved to Los Angeles creating an opportunity to expand into larger motor coaches. In 1997 we added our first 57 passenger deluxe motor coach and soon after that we were able to add two more. I realized we had outgrown 1.25 acre property in Lancaster and had my eyes set on bigger plans to build an AV Fly Away Bus Terminal offering long term parking as well as additional rental units to help support such a large project. To confirm my dream was possible, in 1999 I hired two out of the area consultants to develop a business plan. By 2000 we purchased 5 acres of land in Palmdale. The land was perfect and visible from the freeway; thus, the AV Fly Away Bus Terminal was born. Due to the lack of infrastructure in the area it took AV Fly Away seven long years of planning and building to complete. We moved in June of 2007. I played an active role in the design, construction and building the facility. Our new terminal now consists of eight acres offering over 200 parking spaces and a shop big enough to accommodate our 45 ft. motor coaches. Our modern two-story office overlooks Lake Palmdale and offers a large comfortable lobby, and it also serves as our Palmdale pick-up point. The AV Fly Away is convenient and easy to find, visible from the 14 freeway.
Fast forward to 2020 where we now make 10 scheduled shuttle trips to LAX each day. We have expanded beyond the shuttle service, we now provide charter service for public & private schools, cities, aerospace companies, clubs and organizations, colleges, as well as the JetHawks baseball team.
We believe the future of the transportation industry looks good, as the baby boomer generation gets older and a larger number of the population will no longer be able or willing to drive, this will leave the bus industry playing a major transportation role. Airport security has made airline travel less personal and testimony from our experience and we believe the hellos and goodbyes are easier said at long term Fly Away parking lots closer to home.
Today we look to the future and never rest on the achievements of the past.
"I am proud of the accomplishment of this company and owe a special thanks to our customers, employees and the people who helped us along the way.
Thomas L. Miller, President
Antelope Valley Airport Express Inc.
DBA. Antelope Express