CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Many businesses were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and some had to change how they work because of it. Locally, King Gray Coach Lines, formerly known as King Ward, is no exception.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced people to stay home and stay away from friends and families, so it's no surprise that King Gray had to completely shut down their business during those trying times.
"Our business is to move large groups of people from one place to another and that couldn't happen,” said Matthew Gray, co-owner of King Gray Coach Lines.
Calls were coming in, but not for the right reasons.
"Trips being cancelled with refunds being issued,” Gray explained.
They had to lay off all 65 employees, leaving just the two owners, and took almost every bus off the road for months. They did everything they could just to keep the lights on.
"Cut every expense we could find, sold the things we didn't absolutely need,” Gray noted.
King Gray had to switch gears in order to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. The company diversified their fleet.
"We just got some small 25 passenger and 14 passenger vehicles to do smaller groups…We got into running some small school vans for school districts bringing kids back and forth,” Gray added.
They also added a small travel business that works in connection with their bus business. Gray's travel coordinates planned trips to places like Saratoga, New York City, and more. They are now also offering planned trips to local casinos - a change to a service they used to offer.
“We're starting to run trips to all the casinos around again, Connecticut, we have a trip coming up with Encore,” Gray said.
Now, they have about 15 employees and are operating at about 15 percent of what they used to before the pandemic. Gray told Western Mass News that they are recovering, but still have a long way to go.
“I'm just excited for the fall and to get back to work,” Gray explained.