24 hour ON-CALL SERVICE 1800 747 800

Edwards Coaches celebrates 60 Years in business

Brad Edwards tells New England Focus readers about this journey and the evolution of this great local company.

(New England Focus Magazine, Issue 120 April 2017)

Remind us about when and why Edwards Coaches first began?
In 1957 my parents Ken & Regina Edwards along with Ken’s brother Jim and his wife Joan, moved to Armidale from Ayr, Nth Qld to purchase the Armidale-Inverell bus service. During the 60’s the NSW Government introduced subsidised school bus travel. Ken and Regina won tenders for four school runs. In 1980 my mother and father retired to the Gold Coast leaving the business to me. I have now had the business for 45 years.

How has the company grown and evolved of the past 60 years?
In 1972 I went into partnership with my father Ken at Edwards Coaches and took over Viv and Rita Edwards’ Bus Service in Armidale. This more than doubled the size of Edwards Coaches to a fleet of 14 vehicles. The vehicles that I took over were a little bit tired you could say and it took many long days and nights for myself and my mechanics to get these vehicles up to scratch. The stories from those days are very funny but it secured a partnership between myself and my staff that has endured a wonderful mate ship ever since. Since my father’s retirement in 1980 Edwards Coaches has grown to a fleet of 44 and over 50 staff. In 2015, my son and right hand man, Markus Edwards joined Edwards Coaches, the third generation of the Edwards family. I am proud to see him join the family business.

How many buses do you now have and tell us about the very important team at Edwards?
Edwards Coaches currently has 33 school and town buses as well as 9 coaches. In the last year, Edwards has added 5 new seatbelt equipped school buses with more coming in the near future. As you can imagine with such a large fleet the team at Edwards Coaches is very important. All our drivers are experienced bus drivers, some with over 50 years with Edwards Coaches. In 1964 Max Cooper started working for Ken and Regina as a casual driver of the Puddledock school run. In 1977 Max became a full-time staff member for Brad driving the school run mornings and afternoons and service work during the day. This also led to driving Coaches on weekday and weekend charter work. Max has very fond memories for those days, ‘a great place to work, getting paid to see a lot of Australia and great people to work for’.

Tell us about the services the buses provide?
Edwards Coaches operates local passenger services, school services within the Armidale district as well as Coaches providing charter services mainly within the eastern States of Australia and the occasional weekend getaways to shows in Sydney and Brisbane. We also service Trainlink for emergency or pre-planned rail trackwork. We are also on standby for Qantaslink when required. One of the bigger services we provide is the bus service for the local A Day on the Green and the recent Armidale Airshow. Both were highly logistical operations but very rewarding as we play a small role in helping the Armidale Community showcase our great city. We were also pleased to be a sponsor for the 25th Anniversary of the Armidale Autumn Festival and getting the Marking Koala’s back to Armidale after 25 years.

Tell us about Edwards Aviation and how did this business come about?
I have been passionate about all things to do with aviation since I was a young boy. I first started flying gliders at Armidale Airport at 11 years of age and when went solo at 15 and had an instructor rating at 16. I obtained my license to fly powered aeroplanes in the early 80’sand flew my own aircraft, a Mooney M20, a small single engine aircraft, for a few years. I slowly progressed to bigger and more complex aircraft. Around 2000 I obtained my commercial pilots license. In 2003, I purchased a Cessna Citation Jet, I then started Edwards Aviation offering aircraft charter to Armidale residents and clients around Australia. I now operate three Citation Jets and three twin-engine aircraft to all parts of Australia and overseas and employee three full time pilots and three casual pilots.

What services does Edwards Aviation offer?
Edwards Aviation offers premium aircraft charter that provides an exclusive, private and luxurious service. You have the opportunity to decide when you would like to depart or arrive without the irritation of airport crowds and security. Our services are available 24/7 so we depart when it is convenient for you. We are available at short notice to fly you wherever you would like to go. We offer the safest possible aircraft for air travel.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a part of such a successful, respected and long serving business?
It’s great to see that business has grown over the years as a reward for all the hard work and late nights, but I have been extremely fortunate to have had so many great people working around me to help along the way. It wouldn’t be possible without them. I am lucky and proud to have a lot of long term staff, including two of our drivers that have been with us for over 50 years. Words cannot express my gratitude to the Armidale Community for 60 years of support and patronage of Edwards Coaches. We look forward to working with you for many years to come.