team up to buy Madison Trolleys
owners say both trolleys
will remain in Madison
(October 2005) The twin Madison Trolleys have been sold
but will stay in Madison, Ind.
by Don Ward
new Madison Trolley owners include
(from left) Jim Grant, Ann
and Rick Lostutter and Dave Adams.
Owners Keith Brubaker and Dave Daghir had been advertising
their desire to sell the trolleys early this year. In late September,
a partnership comprised of Jim Grant, Dave Adams and Rick and Ann Lostutter
bought the two trolleys for the advertised price of $40,000. They will
take over the ownership on Nov. 1, following Brubakers planned
end of his trolley season on Oct. 31, which also ends his decade-long
run with the popular vehicles.
Our purchase will ensure that the trolleys stay in Madison, and
I think thats what everyone wants, said Grant, who owns
the Main Cross Antiques and Madison Fudge Factory.
Adams, a Madison city councilman and a former Madison Main Street director,
has been active in promoting downtown Madison businesses and the weekly
Farmers Market. Both Rick and Ann Lostutter are Indiana natives
who moved to Madison from Salinas, Calif., a little more than a year
ago. They have experience in tourism-related activities by planning
large nonprofit events. Lostutter currently works as a web and graphics
designer from his downtown Madison home. His parents, Don and Linda
Lostutter, also reside in Madison. Don is a former basketball coach
at Madison Consolidated High School. Ann is a certified kitchen designer.
The Lostutters own 51 percent of the new partnership, which will take
over the existing Madison Trolley Inc. business entity. The trolleys,
which began a decade ago as a nonprofit entity under the name, Madison
Tourism Council, will continue to operate as a for-profit operation.
Brubaker bought out most of Daghirs part in the trolleys a year
ago and changed it to for-profit status.
by Don Ward
Madison Trolley has been operating
in Madison for a decade.
Since moving to town, we have been looking for something
that would involve us in both the business community and civic activity,
Lostutter said. Jim approached us about this, and it sounded like
a fun thing to do.
I think there is a lot of potential to expand the season for the
trolleys here in Madison from six to nine months. Weve also got
other promotional ideas, said Grant, who has marketing experience
with larger firms prior to moving to Madison in 2000. Grant also has
been active in tourism in Madison and in May received a statewide Hospitality
Award. Adams received the countys annual Hospitality Award on
the same day.
We plan to meet with the tourism board soon to discuss our ideas
for possibly operating the trolleys into December for the Candlelight
Tour of Homes, but maybe not this year, Grant said. Wed
like to operate them all year, except for January, February and March.
The CVB board was presented with a letter from Daghir at its Sept. 14
meeting asking the board to consider buying the trolleys to ensure that
they remain in Madison. After much discussion of the rising cost of
insurance and the work required to operate and maintain them, the board
decided to approach Madison Mayor Al Huntington about having the city
purchase, store, maintain and operate them.
We just dont have the money to buy and operate them,
said board president Bob Woldschlag.
With the recent sale, the issue is now moot.
Brubaker, 62, is semi-retired but has been operating the trolleys since
their existence, along with part-time drivers Judy Duncan and Becky
King. Both women have expressed interest in continuing to drive the
trolleys for the new owners, whoever they might be.
In addition to weekly guided tours offered at $10 per day, Brubaker
over the years has been contracted to ferry passengers around town during
weddings, reunions and other special events, and for large groups arriving
by steamboat, passenger barge and bus.
This year, the trolleys have operated Friday through Monday only but
were available for charter any other time. Most rides originate at the
Lanier-Madison Visitors Center at 601 W. First St. For many years, the
original open-air trolley was limited seasonally by weather. The second
enclosed trolley was added just two years ago.
We have grown steadily over the years and generally give up to
3,500 paid rides per season, Brubaker said. That does not
include the groups that we contract out with.
In his letter to the CVB board, Daghir estimated that the trolleys
annual gross revenue is approximately $40,000, with a net profit of
between $5,000 and $8,000. But the rising cost of insurance and fuel
may change those estimates.
This years insurance premium of $3,700 was projected to double
to $7,000 for next year, Daghir said in his letter. A government-related
owner, such as the CVB or city, however, could possibly be exempt from
new insurance requirements being imposed by the Indiana Department of
Transportation for next year.
The new private owners will be subject to these new insurance requirements.
Even with the new insurance costs, the trolleys can still be profitable,
Brubaker said. We made money every season, and we didnt
do everything we could have to market them. So there is a lot of potential
for the new owners.
Back to October 2005