Former agency owner makes clean break during pandemic

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The Bailey’s Zero Hazard team after a staff meeting in July.
The Bailey’s Zero Hazard team after a staff meeting in July.

On March 16, charter bus company Bailey Coach in Spring Grove, Pa., completed its last revenue run before the coronavirus pandemic halted business.

Two days later, president John Bailey, a former travel agency owner, made the difficult choice to lay off all his employees, save himself and his daughter, Courtney Bailey. The two would stay on as unpaid employees to answer phones and cancel trips.

John started Bailey Coach in 1998, while he was still operating his $40 million, family-run travel agency, Bailey Travel Service. He began with two buses and the knowledge gained from working for a bus company in the mid-1970s, doing everything from office operations to driving buses and cleaning the vehicles.

Bailey Coach’s fleet eventually grew to 15 buses and 15 sedans and vans for airport transport. He employed a staff of 62, averaging 400 dispatches per month and transporting some 130,000 people each year.

That all came to a halt when the pandemic hit. 

“I just really had a difficult time knowing that I couldn’t do more,” he said.

The day he let his employees go, Bailey wandered over to the area where post-trip cleaning was done and spotted the electrostatic sprayer Bailey Coach had bought to disinfect the inside of vehicles.

“When I saw this thing, the light bulb went off. Why not offer sanitizing services to area businesses?”

John quickly made up a flyer and sent it out to Bailey Coach’s email list. His bank called, wanting its headquarters sanitized. Then, the bank wanted its 15 branches sanitized once a week.

Word spread, including via some local media reports, and John suddenly had a new business: Bailey’s Zero Hazard. 

He bought seven more sprayers and is also distributing sprayers ($650 each) and a sanitizing hypochlorous acid ($35 a gallon) from provider Zero Hazard. 

Bailey’s Zero Hazard now disinfects 70 to 80 businesses weekly.  

John has brought about 18 employees back to work in the sanitizing business, and he hopes to bring back more as Bailey’s Zero Hazard grows.

Meanwhile, Bailey Coach is beginning to see a little business, with a handful of airport runs every week, but its motorcoach business is still paused. 

The Bailey family’s roots in the travel industry are deep. John’s uncle, Glenn Bailey, was a schoolteacher in York, Pa. He took a group of students to the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair via train. It was a success, and he started doing more trips.

During World War II, John’s parents, Fred and Melna Bailey, were in the Army. They met in Europe, and when they returned to Pennsylvania in 1949, Fred and Glenn opened up Bailey Travel Service in York.

John started working at the agency in the 1960s, helping escort groups and tours. Bailey Travel Service was known for its one-day charters to Bermuda. When Walt Disney World opened in 1971, the agency would also run one-day trips to Orlando.

John took over operations of the agency in the late 1970s. He grew the business over the years. In 2010, he merged Bailey Travel with Travel Time Travel in Lancaster, Pa., and two years ago, he sold the agency to Travel Leaders Group.

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