The Road Explorer - Spring 2018 - 15
Classic, Autumn and Apollo. "It's quite
entertaining to hear us talk about them
in the office."
As a testament to her success, Ricci
was nominated for a 2017 RBC Canadian
Women Entrepreneur Award. She also
has a big heart as a community supporter,
with numerous groups aided, including
the Women & Children's Shelter of
Barrie. Angel Tours' latest long-term
commitment is supporting the Kitikmeot
Heritage Society, which preserves
and promotes the history, culture and
language of Inuinnait.
With a strong support team, Ricci
understands no one can succeed on their
own. And while she certainly has been
the guiding light at Angel Tours, she also
gives credit to the Ontario Motor Coach
Association for its guidance.
"OMCA membership has tremendous
value. I've been a member since I founded
my company. They're a great resource,
and always have information you
need in advance," Ricci said. "They're
always available to help us. They're
stellar individuals who are passionate
about what they do, and they are great
advocates when speaking on our behalf."
It's not easy operating a thriving motor
coach operation during these economic
times, and it certainly hasn't been a
smooth road for Ricci during her 20 years
of service. But with a passion for helping
people - both clients and staff - this
entrepreneur and role model has found
the perfect formula for success.
Angela Ricci, Owner-Operator
Angel Tours &
The Road Explorer: Talk about the
trials and tribulations of founding a
new motor coach company within a
Angela Ricci: All of the information
and education that was out there was
from men within the old boys' club. It
was interesting how so many of them
were very receptive and nurturing, and
so passionate about their industry. They
were very eager to share information
and to teach me. But I remember one
gentleman who said, '(Expletive) woman
thinks she can run a bus company?!'
I wanted him to know he wasn't sounding
too business-like at the moment, so I told
A bus named Trillium.
him, 'It sounds like you're having a bad
day, let's talk another time.' And I hung
up the phone.
With a 20-year history, you must be
proud of where you are today, being one
of the few female owner-operators in
There is a lot of pride behind me
being a female operator in this industry,
perhaps the only woman who founded
her own bus company from the ground
up and continued to operate it. But
there are challenges. We have perhaps
3 percent females driving in our
industry. So, you ask yourself, how do
you encourage females to come into our
industry when it is so male dominated,
and knowing all of the stuff they might
have to deal with as females? What
makes it more difficult is that the younger
generation does not communicate well
face-to-face. They're lacking verbal
skills. They may not deal well with
confrontation or disappointment.
On that note, we hear so much
about the lack of young people entering
construction trades. What about the
motor coach industry: does it face the
There's a big deficiency of drivers and
mechanics - in fact, everything related
to our industry. I would say this has been
going on for eight years. There aren't a
lot of younger people coming into our
industry. So when we do get them in, as a
mentor, my goal is to get them enthused
about what we do, to retain them and
keep them interested. We're an industry
that cannot be replaced by robotics.
Autonomous buses of the future, full-size
motor coaches with 50 passengers; we're
a long way from that reality, especially
driving on a highway. We are always
going to need new people - drivers,
mechanics and everyone else important
to our industry.
Passengers, too, have changed.
They are much more sophisticated
when it comes to research, knowledge
Let's rewind 30 years ago, when
people did not have information at their
fingertips. There was more value in the
tour company, the tour director, the tour
guide. You entrusted them to have all the
information necessary and to be able to
assist you and escort you to an unfamiliar
destination. Today, we have the Internet.
You can search for information by
yourself. You know what you're looking
for. You have GPS tracking. You can
talk to your phone and find what you
need. Those are all great things. And
people don't necessarily travel in a group
anymore. They travel by themselves
and still feel comfortable because of all
There are many reasons for your
success. Where does it start, in addition
to looking after your own staff?
Part of it stems from branding. We've
stuck to a true brand, and have played
around with the word 'Angel' and what it
means to our company. There's a big trust
factor in this business. You need to be
upfront and honest with your customers.
And if we've made a mistake, then we
always make it up to our passengers.
Also, we spend time educating our group
leaders. I've actually gone to their homes
to help educate them on computer use,
for example. Communication is key.
With your Barrie expansion and new
garage, you'll not only be able to grow,
but you'll also help the industry as
We'll have a secondary location where
we can continue our charter operation.
Barrie is a good choice for us. Our
buses are parked in Vaughan, but our
marketing office has been in Barrie for
20 years. I'm really excited about our
new garage, which will provide a great
opportunity for us to teach, to open
the door to skilled trades. Apprentice
mechanics can come to us to learn in a
garage. I'm excited to be passing the torch
to the next generation.
Read The Road Explorer online at www.naylornetwork.com/omc-nxt