Sunday, February 1, 2009

Times-News Black History Month: Maxwell at the wheel of his own coach business



KINGSPORT — A few years ago, Charles Maxwell was working as a driver of a coach company when his employer went out of business, and he found himself out of a job.
“So I just decided to go out on my own,” Maxwell said.
He took his future into his own hands, and in May 2005, Maxwell launched his business, Maxwell Coach Co., offering coach services throughout the region and beyond.

Maxwell operates two large capacity coaches — one equipped with 50 seats and the other with 49 seats.
Business has slowed in recent months, so last October, Maxwell purchased a 37-seat coach to handle in-town trips and day excursions. The new coach helped him land a contract with the Boys & Girls Club to transport passengers around town.
“With the schools and churches not traveling as much as they usually do, it kind of kept my bigger coaches sitting. So I needed to do something to bring in some income,” he said.
Maxwell does much of the driving himself. He also has four drivers who help out part-time when needed.
Just recently, Maxwell’s two large coaches were contracted to transport passengers to Washington, D.C., to witness the inauguration of President Obama.
Maxwell said he never dreamed of seeing an African American in the White House during his lifetime.
“It’s historical, moving,” Maxwell said. “I’m a person who believes in change.”
Maxwell, 41, was born in Washington, D.C., but grew up in Kingsport, graduating from Dobyns-Bennett High School in 1986. He said he didn’t experience blatant racism growing up here, and says the way you’re treated all comes down to your own attitude.
“You shouldn’t judge a person just because of the way they look. They may be the one who sticks their hand out to help you,” Maxwell said.
As for his business, Maxwell credited the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce and the Kingsport Office of Small Business Development & Entrepreneurship for their help. He also thanked the Kingsport Convention & Visitors Bureau for sending business his way.
And Maxwell thanked area schools, churches and other organizations for their support over the last several years. He especially cited the wrestling club of Grundy, Va.
“My biggest contract is in Grundy with the wrestling club. They’ve really stuck by me and been there for me,” he said.
Maxwell has four children — one attending East Tennessee State University, one in the U.S. Air Force, and two attending Dobyns-Bennett High School.
For more information, visit or contact Maxwell at or (423) 276-3677.