This article is brought to you by the Women in Buses Council.
Sandy Borowsky is vice president of Starr, an ABA member bus charter and tour company based in Trenton, N.J. Sandy is a third-generation bus company owner—her grandfather, Gilbert Sussman, founded Starr in 1947 and her parents are Alan Glickman, Starr’s CEO and Renee, a Starr Travel Agent. Sandy is also an active member of the ABA Women in Buses Council.
Q: How did you get your start in the motorcoach industry?
Sandy Borowsky: Buses are in my blood, that’s for sure! My grandfather founded Starr in 1947; my dad, Alan Glickman, is our CEO; and now our company is reaching into its third generation—me! Here’s a funny story about how I got started: I was in my late 20s and working as a buyer for a major department store chain in Los Angeles when my dad hired a recruiter to fill the open charter manager position at Starr. The recruiter suggested he ask his daughter if she would be interested in coming to work for Starr, and to make a long story short, here I am—19 years later! (And yes, my dad had to pay the recruitment fee to the recruiter since she “found” me!)
Q. What does Starr offer to its customers and community that is unique?
SB: I feel like a broken record when I say this, but it’s so true: At Starr, we build relationships and partnerships with our customers and within the community. We feel that providing bus charter service and vacations by bus are not commodities and cannot be treated as such. We provide a service—and an experience—that is customized to meet the needs of each and every client. Whether it’s how we communicate, how we prepare, how we react, or how we provide, we look at each situation and every trip and handle it individually. We do this with our clients, our community, and even our staff. Our ultimate mission is to create long-term relationships with our charter and tour customers. We never anticipate a one-time sale—we always work towards a longer relationship. This applies both to bus charters as well as tours.
Q. Describe your leadership philosophy.
SB: Have you ever heard the phrase, “there is no `I’ in the word leader”? No? Maybe you’ve heard “there is no `I” in team”? Well, there is no “I” in either of those words! Accordingly, I believe a great leader is always part of a great team. And in order to be effective, that leadership team must have very strong communication skills and a healthy partnership to be effective. I don’t believe one person can offer all the skills and qualifications to successfully run a company, which is why it’s important to diversify within your leadership team. As Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” This is very true in business and what I try to practice at Starr.
Q. What advice do you have for someone just starting out in the motorcoach travel and tourism industry?
SB: I fully believe in the power of networking and I have always been a networker. As a college student, I always made sure my different groups of friends knew each other because it allowed me to spend time with more people at the same time. This theory stays with me today, more than 25 years later. I also believe in expanding one’s network—both personally and professionally. The more people you know, the more knowledge you build and the more things you can do and share.
Q. Why did you get involved in ABA’s Women in Buses?
SB: WIB is a great way to network. It’s a group of women in the same industry facing many of the same challenges. In the few years that I have been a part of WIB, I have expanded my network to include suppliers and operators across the U.S. and Canada. With this expanded network, I can reach out to these new contacts when I have questions, a new product to sell, or just want to run an idea by someone. As ABA’s Women in Buses Council builds its network and gains momentum and experience, you can be certain that positive results will happen both to the women in the industry and the industry itself.
Q. What new technologies are you excited about in the future of the bus industry?
SB: At Starr, we are excited to implement many new safety-related technologies as they become available to the bus industry.
New safety regulations such as the requirement for electronic logs (a new technology) is very important for the future of our industry. Those companies that use this technology as mandated will provide safer transportation to the traveling public, and our industry will experience reduced accidents and incidents.
New technologies such as GPS monitoring will help companies regulate and control maximum speeds, which will further reduce accidents. Starr already utilizes managed speed technology. GPS routing and navigation improvements for buses will aid drivers on non-regular route travel—taking the place of printed maps and written instructions. Traffic monitoring through GPS technology will aid drivers by helping to find the shortest and safest routes. Technology providing lane departure assistance and following distance controls will also help to improve our industry’s safety performance.
Starr is on the forefront of implementing these new technologies, which are all very exciting for our industry.