CHARLOTTE, N.C., August 12, 2022 – A smart, easy, affordable way to travel to and from Winston-Salem and Fayetteville, North Carolina, has arrived. Mid-State Express provides daily round-trip intercity bus service to and from Winston-Salem and Fayetteville with stops in Lexington, High Point, Asheboro, Siler City and Sanford.
The service was launched in July by local operator Sunway Charters in cooperation with the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT).
Outbound service at both the Winston-Salem and Fayetteville Transportation Centers begins each day, on-time at 9 a.m., with return trips departing at 2 p.m. Mid-State Express service operates seven days a week, 365 days a year to better connect riders who want to commute to jobs and schools, visit relatives or get to medical appointments and other places without a car.
Sunway Charters has dedicated four highway-style intercity coaches to the service. The 56-passenger coaches feature reclining forward-facing seats, individual reading lights and airflow controls, power outlets and free Wi-Fi. Each coach is equipped with a wheelchair lift in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Sunway Charters also operates the Mountaineer East/West intercity bus service from Winston-Salem, serving Boone, Wilkesboro, Hamptonville and Greensboro, and the Mountaineer North/South route, serving Charlotte, Gastonia, Lincolnton, Hickory, Lenior and Boone.
In partnership with NCDOT, Sunway Charter’s fixed-route services give passengers a comfortable and affordable alternative to driving between major cities throughout the state. Travelers can reach an even wider selection of destinations when they coordinate their travel with Amtrak and other individual carrier bus services linked to several of the stops on the routes.
For detailed information about the locations of stops and departure times and to purchase tickets online, visit sunwaycharters.com/bus-tickets. Passengers must have exact change to purchase tickets on board the bus.
With locations in Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Jacksonville, and Myrtle Beach, Sunway is the largest charter service for the Carolinas. Learn more here.
By Russ Peterson|2022-10-03T21:18:59+00:00October 3, 2022|Uncategorized|Comments Off on New Mid-State Express bus service connects Winston-Salem to Fayetteville corridor
Sunway Charters Charlotte introduces Kendra Washington as terminal manager
CHARLOTTE, NC. December 1, 2022–Sunway Charters has a reputation not just for great transportation services, but also for the culture they create within, and the caliber of the people they hire.
As Owner Lee Helms always says, “I have a knack for putting the right person in the right job and letting them run with it.”. That’s exactly what he did when he hired Kendra Washington as the Charlotte facility’s dispatch supervisor. After less than one year, Sunway promoted Kendra Washington to the position of Charlotte Terminal Manager.
Prior to coming to Sunway Charters, Kendra had worked in the restaurant industry, where she learned much about managing the immediate demands and needs of her customers and juggling a lot of “plates”. During her time in that profession, she became a great problem-solver and developed outstanding customer service skills. In her role at Sunway, Kendra excels at keeping things organized and giving extraordinary attention to even the smallest details of the management of her terminal. Outside of the Sunway office, Kendra enjoys attending concerts and traveling. Some of her favorite destinations are Nashville, TN, and Cancun.
Within the Charlotte office, Kendra works closely with Sunways’ Director of Operations, Jacob Hooks, who oversees the functionality of all the Sunway terminals and the operations of the organization, while ensuring that Sunway Charters operates in compliance with federal and state safety guidelines. Jacob started his transportation career driving a school bus, which inspired him to enter the motorcoach side of the transportation industry. As a child, Jacob’s dream job was to be a bus driver, so he’s literally “living the dream!” When decompressing from a day at the office, Jacob also loves attending Broadway shows.
About Sunway’s Charlotte Terminal
As the corporate headquarters of Sunway Charters, the Charlotte never stops moving! Charlotte has the fleet diversity to cater to groups of many sizes, starting with 14-passenger minibuses, their illustrious trolleys, and all the way up to full size 55 passenger motorcoaches, with many other options in between.
Charlotte, also known as the Queen City, is constantly growing while still striving to bring that small town feel to a big city. So, whether you want to catch a Carolina Panthers game in Bank of America Stadium or do some shopping at SouthPark Mall, the city of Charlotte has something for everyone!
Sunway Charters Charlotte – Specializing in:
Motorcoach charters for Sports Teams and School Trips.
Coordination of convention transportation to local attractions, restaurants, events.
Airport transfers/shuttles for groups and individuals.
Sunway Charters Myrtle Beach
Welcomes the Return of Terri Goldenbaum
as Terminal Manager
Sunway Charter has a reputation not just for great transportation services, but also for the culture they create within and caliber of the people they hire.
Recently, Sunway welcomed back Terri Goldenbaum, who was with the company for several years until she decided to explore other industries and expand her experience outside of Sunway Charters. While she was away, Sunway was never too far out of Terri’s mind, and owner Lee Helms certainly had not forgotten Terri. On a social call, Lee took the opportunity to ask if Terri was interested in rejoining the company and shared what he had in mind. Before you knew it, Myrtle Beach had a new Terminal Manager.
Combining both her experience with Sunway, within the industry, and from her other past roles, Terri brings a fresh perspective and a list of ideas and goals to the position. Her previous experience includes being a Paralegal as well as a Central Reservations and Sales Manager for large motorcoach and public tour company in New Jersey. Terri excels at giving attention to her clients and in executing her ideas on marketing specific to her location and customers. Outside of work she enjoys problem solving and puzzles – perfect hobbies for this position!
Terri is joined by Sunway’s Maintenance Manager, Kirk Ehmann. Also returning to Sunway, Kirk is a highly trained and skilled mechanic specializing specifically in Van Hool motorcoaches, an important specialty due to the volume of Van Hool motorcoaches housed at Sunways’ Myrtle Beach facility. Kirk is also an avid trivia buff
About Sunway’s Myrtle Beach Terminal
As the largest charter bus provider on the “Grand Strand”, Sunways’ Myrtle Beach location is focused on meeting the needs of both the local clientele, such as schools, local sports teams, and church or club groups, as well as the very specific tourism market, which is made up of conventions, family reunions, visiting sports teams, military reunions, and golf outings, to name a few.
The Myrtle Beach area is known as the “Grand Strand” because it contains 60 miles of coastline. Because there are so many attractions, it is not unusual for a group’s one-day itinerary to include time shopping at the outlets in North Myrtle Beach, a tour of Atalaya Castle, and a nature walk at Huntington Beach, dinner at one of the restaurants on the Marsh Walk in Murrells Inlet, then ending with a show at Barefoot Landing in the evening. This typical day for a visiting group might be more than 80 miles of travel.
Sunway Charters Myrtle Beach – Specializing in:
Motorcoach charters for Family Reunions, Sports Teams, Schools, and groups.
Coordination of convention transportation to local attractions, restaurants, events.
Small and Large group movements.
Shuttle moves along the Grand Strand.
Airport transfers/shuttles for large and small groups.
For more information on how we can assist you with your transportation needs, please contact Terri at terri@sunwaycharters or 843-293-2100.
By Russ Peterson|2022-10-04T15:01:03+00:00October 2, 2022|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Sunway Charter Myrtle Beach Welcomes the Return of Terri Goldenbaum as Terminal Manager
Sunway Charters sees rapid growth serving the Carolinas and beyond
Adds five coaches and a new fixed-route service
CHARLOTTE, NC. JULY 11, 2022– As more Americans moved south during COVID, Sunway Charters’ owner and President Lee Helms knew when transportation returned to normal his Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm would be ready to meet the travel demand.
“Our entire industry has been through something unprecedented, but we knew there would be many new opportunities in our region when the economy finally got going again,” said Helms, who in June added five coaches to his expanding 140-vehicle fleet of luxury motorcoaches, midsize coaches, mini-buses, transit buses, and trolleys.
In July, Sunway added four of those coaches to its new Mid-State Express route. The fixed-route service provides daily round trips from Winston-Salem with stops in Lexington, High Point, Asheboro, Siler City, Sanford, and Fayetteville, supporting North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) intercity transportation. A round tripfrom Fayetteville will also stop in those same towns.
The South was the only region of the country that had a positive net migration during COVID, according to North Carolina’s Office of State Budget and Management blog, citing the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 estimates.
Sunway Charters’ business expansion reflects the trend. Besides its Charlotte headquarters, Sunway operates locations in Winston-Salem, Jacksonville, NC, and Myrtle Beach, SC, and runs charters, golf tournament transportation, event, corporate and airport shuttles, school trips, military transport, and more, including its expanding daily scheduled commuter service for NCDOT.
A natural entrepreneur
Sunway’s success began with Lee Helms’ entrepreneurial spirit and an ability to spot opportunities in other territory.
A Charlotte native, Helms worked for his father’s insulation company in his teens, where he would be up in hot attics of homes for hours as an insulation installer and later as an electrician. While Helms had other career plans, “the work ethic stuck,” he said. As an adult, he entered the bar and restaurant business, opening his own place in his mid-twenties, while serving as a Reservist in the Air National Guard. A decade later, he joined the corporate world becoming a sales leader for a national foodservice distributor.
His entry into the charter bus industry began when his cousin, who owned a tour operation, won a contract in 1999 to manage a golf tournament at North Carolina’s Pinehurst and called on Helms for help.
“We managed a big crowd,” recalls Helms, who continued to work with his cousin in management, booking school travel and bringing customers back after 9/11.
By 2002, Helms was the owner of a small trolley business in Charlotte, North Carolina. In 2004, he was ready to move beyond trolleys when he purchased his first coach, an MCI F3500 that was the last to roll off the company’s Sahagun, Mexico assembly line.
But by 2011, Helms was looking to accelerate the growth of his business when he found Sunway Charters & Tours, a small coach company in Myrtle Beach, SC, for sale. After buying Sunway, Helms began by changing the name of his company from Trolleys of the Carolinas to Sunway Charters. The acquisition added casino trips, cruise ship runs, and cross-country tours.
In 2015, Helms doubled his current territory and expanded his fleet by acquiring North Carolina’s Horizon Coach Lines, which was struggling at the time. With the purchase, he gained Horizon’s Charlotte, Winston-Salem, and Jacksonville locations along with their scheduled service operations. Sunway’s fleet went from 20 vehicles to 100 overnight.
“I knew we could turn the business around,” said Helms. “We already had our Charlotte location, so we sold theirs along with some equipment and kept the scheduled service operation with North Carolina DOT intact and ran that through COVID which really helped us.”
Sunway connects communities by operating intercity bus service from its Winston-Salem and Charlotte locations. In partnership with NCDOT, these services give people a comfortable and affordable alternative to driving between major cities throughout the state.
Sunway operates the Mountaineer East/West intercity bus service from its Winston-Salem location for Boone, Wilkesboro, Hamptonville, and Greensboro. Its Charlotte location serves the Mountaineer North/South route for service in Gastonia, Lincolnton, Hickory, Lenior, and Boone.
Each of Sunway’s locations also has its specialty. The Charlotte location provides service for the NBA, several city tour organizations, and they are the official transportation provider for the Charlotte Sports Foundation. Winston-Salem works with Wake Forest Football, local universities Greek-life, and the High Point Furniture Market.
Jacksonville supports Amtrak in providing “thru-way” service in the eastern parts of North Carolina. They also are heavily involved in military moves for nearby bases. Myrtle Beach is the official transportation provider for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans while also partnering with Hilton Grand Vacations to provide shuttle service to their excursions.
Helms’ early success at Pinehurst also kept Sunway building a niche and gaining a reputation as a quality transportation provider for golf tournaments. Sunway serves the Wells Fargo Championship, traditionally held in Charlotte, NC; annually transports the players and their families during the Augusta National Women’s Amateur in Georgia; and provides transportation for other PGA tournaments throughout the South and even the Northeast. Sunway coaches helped carry crowds to 2022 U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club in Brookline, MA, held in June.
Creating a culture that works
Helms says, “It’s important to have a good CFO, who brings clarity to financial matters, and for me to understand each person and put them in the right job, so everyone is doing what they are supposed to do.”
Sunway rewards employees for jobs well done with annual pay increases and increased hourly rates for drivers to help offset the pandemic strain.
Based on social media feedback from customers, Helms’ approach encourages team members to dedicate themselves to the safety and comfort of Sunway’s passengers. Glowing reviews about Sunway driver Shameeka Simpson, who became like family to a group traveling to Charleston, SC, has made her one of the company’s most-requested drivers.
Sunway also gets high marks from customers for stepping in on the occasional hiccup with other carriers or assuring groups during severe weather conditions that Sunway will always stand ready to transport them safely.
Leading by example
Active within the bus industry for two decades, Helms served as President of the North Carolina Motorcoach Association from 2018-2021. Under his leadership, they began having an annual meeting between neighboring states’ associations to increase regional networking opportunities and provide cost-effective vendor participation.
Helms also serves on the board of the Motor Coach Association of South Carolina and is an active member of the North Carolina, Virginia, and New York motor coach associations and the United Motorcoach Association (UMA).
“I am dedicated to improving the efficiencies and resources for the industry,” said Helms. “I enjoy building businesses. I have a knack for it.”
In 2018, Sunway Charters was named in METRO Magazine’s Top 50 Operators as the 25th largest operator in the nation and continues to climb.
By Russ Peterson|2022-09-01T22:13:33+00:00July 11, 2022|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Sunway Charters sees rapid growth serving the Carolinas and beyond