Photography Andy Calvert
For five successful years, Brett Roes and his family have run Eagle Christian Tours of Rome, Georgia: a full-service bus company that offers not only tours, but also serves as a charter bus service for thousands of youth groups, churches and college athletes.
“At first, the goal was to just have one bus and take one tour a month,” says Roes, “but we’ve doubled in growth every single year since we’ve been in business.”
The bus business runs in the family, and it started for Roes when he was young. “My dad owned a trucking company and rigging business. And he was a gospel singer, so I grew up around buses and music. Buses are like boats. They get into your blood, and you end up building relationships with them,” he says.
With a career originally in Christian ministry, Roes came back to his bus roots in 2008, when he took a group of seniors from Northside Church on a bus tour of New England. “The tour was a huge hit. It was two weeks and when those people came back, they were raving fans,” says Roes. For several years after that, the senior group continued to take an annual tour, visiting other regions of the United States.
Then, in 2012, after leaving church ministry and taking a sabbatical, Roes and his wife, Becky, decided to buy a 1986 Eagle motor coach and start a small bus business. By the summer of 2013, Eagle Christian Tour Company was in full swing, and the Roes family has not looked back since.
The business is truly family-run with not only Brett and Becky’s involvement, but other generations as well. Their son, Carson, is Brett’s business partner; their daughter-in-law, Elizabeth, is the office manager and could “run the place by herself. Their son, BJ, helped refurbish the very first bus and now does all the washing, cleaning and turn-around for the buses, and their daughter, Mary, manages the software, work orders and other behind-the-scenes work. Their youngest son, Christian, a current University of Georgia student, works at the company every summer and plans to work full time after his graduation in 2019.
Additionally, Brett and Becky’s parents are involved. “My dad, Bernard Roes, who’s now 84, comes [from Maine] and winters here. He comes out and works here every day: in the shop making tools and parts, etc. If you need something, he’ll make it from scratch,” says Roes.
Becky’s father, Sam Naff, Jr., is the Chief Financial Officer of the business. “My father-in-law is my advisor, and he’s been involved from the beginning,” says Brett. Finally, while alive, Sam Naff, Sr. was also a part of the bus business, as he dedicated every single bus. Though he passed away at 98 years old, he continues to be a part of the Eagle Christian Tour legacy.
This legacy includes tours for both groups and individuals. Group tours are built around the group’s size and need, including custom family vacations. Individuals can also sign up for certain bus tours via open enrollment. One such upcoming tour includes the annual music show tour for Christmas in Nashville.
Interested parties can sign up for a bus tour on their website: http://eaglechristiantours.com/