Wedge Tours & Charters is PEI’s newest bus tour and charter service.
The business is located in Summerside and tours go throughout the Maritimes, Newfoundland, Ontario, and Quebec as well as the Isles de la Madeleine.
They also offer shuttle service to and from major concerts, and specialize in transportation for sports teams, weddings, and business groups.
Aaron and Kendra Wedge also own and operate Cairn’s Motel in Summerside and Crystal Beach Campground in New Annan. The campground is managed by Aaron’s brother.
Kendra works full-time at Cairns Motel, which has 20 units. The couple took over the motel when they were 19, and have owned the motel for 20 years.
Amanda Barlow has worked in the travel tourism field and has a Tourism and Travel Management diploma from Holland College. “I was the marketing director of Golf PEI for almost 15 years,” says Amanda. “I developed and managed the reservation centre and then moved into marketing until I went on maternity leave for my first child. After my second maternity leave from other work in the industry, I really had to look at my options. This is when I started talking with Aaron and Kendra about Wedge Tours & Charters.”
How the business got its start
It started one and a half years ago. The idea for this type of business was sparked after Aaron needed a bus to transport people from their motel and campground to the annual Cavendish Beach Music Festival and everything was sold out.
“He found this great deal on a bus and thought he would buy it and transport people to a few events,” says Amanda. “Last year, demand for transportation was even higher, and he decided to buy a second bus.
“Last fall, I was coming off maternity leave and trying to decide which direction to take because I now have two small children and I didn’t want to travel to Charlottetown for work. Aaron and Kendra are close friends and we started talking about making this into a separate business.”
This past winter, the three partners laid out their plans, and then business started to really take off. “June 2016 was unbelievable, and we had a very busy summer. The volume of business has quadrupled from last year. We just bought a couple more buses, so we now have five full-size buses and one smaller one.”
The business serves customers from a few different demographics. “The majority of people who take our tours are seniors,” says Amanda. “For example, we do a trip once a month to Moncton to the Casino and Costco.
“The second type of customers are cruise ship passengers. The very first cruise ship docked at the Port of Summerside in June and we were in charge of the tours. Another ship is coming in October. So far, there has been very positive feedback from the cruise lines. We are hopeful for more success next year.”
Because of the depth of the water, only cruise ships which carry up to 1,000 passengers can dock at the Port of Summerside. The ship arriving in October holds 400 passengers and has a crew of 200 people.
In the winter, they provide transportation for hockey teams, including the Summerside Western Capitals, the Amherst Ramblers, and a few minor leagues as well.
About the staff
Aaron is a bus driver for Wedge Tours & Charters and his son Quinten oversees bus maintenance.
Amanda, Aaron, and two drivers work full-time. Three other drivers and two tour guides work part-time. In the busy months, all work mostly full-time hours. “The heavier work schedule will most likely continue until November,” says Amanda.
“We have a full-time cleaning person and two full-time mechanics. Every time a bus comes in, everything is checked before it goes out again.”
They have one female bus driver. “She used to drive a transit bus in Toronto and when they retired here, she saw our buses and approached us.”
Future business plans
Amanda says next year they will need more staff. “Business quadrupled this month and I would think from now until November we will triple our bookings.
“If we continue to expand at this pace, we will need more staff. Next year, I could see us having more coaches and needing more drivers, which is the biggest role to fill.”
Qualifications for a bus driver
A Class 2A license is required to drive a bus.
“Another important qualification is customer service skills and abilities. We are all about customer service. Drivers should be very friendly. A great personality goes a long way. Years of driving experience is also important.”
How to apply
“We haven’t advertised for drivers yet. Everyone who works here has come to us seeking work.”