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Coach conversions and the conversion industry in general have been a topic of telephone calls as well as e-mails and the subject of several questions in recent months. Inquiries have ranged from conversion shells to conversion companies and the value of used converted coaches. Where do things stand today and where are conversions going in the future?

Since the July issue of National Bus Trader is traditionally dedicated to conversions, we decided to cover some of these topics in an article. Our old friend Mike Middaugh, who once was on the staff of Custom Coach and now runs executive coaches commercially, volunteered to provide additional thoughts based on his half-century of experience in the industry. We certainly would welcome additional thoughts and comments for the future.

By The Numbers

Converted coaches have been an important and integral part of the coach industry for decades. Our records show that as coaches become older, they are more likely to end up in private hands for private transportation. At one time there was a brisk business in selling used coaches to individuals who set about doing what many people call “back yard conversions.” This particular end of the market has declined in recent years for reasons we will get into later.

Conversion shells have also been an integral part of the new coach market for decades. According to our records, for a least a decade from the late 1990s through 2007, conversion shells represented at least 10 percent of the new coach market. What appears to be the high point was 2004 when 20.4 percent of new coaches were conversion shells. But 2003 came in at 17.3 percent and both 2000 and 2005 exceeded 15 percent. This percentage dropped to 14.2 percent in 2007 and continued dropping after that.