Saturday, April 19, 2014

Black Small Businesses Vs. The State

The Government’s Appalling Campaign Against Small Bus Companies - “They took a man’s livelihood and threw it in the dirt.”

Jeff and Judy Rodgers, owners of Southeastern Tours, 1994. |||

Jeff and Judy Rodgers, who met in high school and have three grown children together, started a charter bus company called Southeastern Tours 20 years ago in their hometown of Greenville, North Carolina. Jeff had been working as a bus driver for Greyhound and dreamed of running his own company. In 1994, in partnership with Judy’s mother, the couple took out a loan, built a garage, and launched their business. They struggled for a few years, but gradually built a loyal clientele. As recently as eight months ago, the company was thriving with seven buses and gross annual revenues of about a million dollars, including a contract with Amtrak worth $48,000 a month to transport passengers between train stations in North Carolina.

Today Southeastern Tours is on the verge of bankruptcy. In December, Amtrak canceled its contract with the company, transferring its business to a different carrier. Unable to make their monthly payments, the Rodgers returned six of their seven buses. They may lose their home of 22 years, which served as collateral on a business loan. “I don’t have anything to fall back on,” says Jeff. "This company was my livelihood. It’s how I pay for my food and everything.”

What led to the rapid downfall of Southeastern Tours?