“We get better every time,” says president Jeff Arensdorf. “We’re learned a little bit every time, so this is kind of the best of everything.”
The company is moving from 20,000 square feet at 21st and Tyler to 47,000 square feet on 15 acres at the northwest corner of K-96 and Ridge Road.
That’s up from the original 10 acres Village Travel acquired.
“We needed the dirt,” Arensdorf says.
He says he didn’t necessarily need more land but literally needed the dirt to elevate the 10-acre headquarters site by almost 6 feet to get out of the flood plain.
Arensdorf says Village Travel will benefit from the visibility K-96 offers and the ease of getting on and off of it compared to 21st Street where it is now.
“Out here on 21st, the traffic is nuts.”
There are other benefits with the move, such as tour customers no longer having to walk through the elements to depart.
“It’s a fully covered drive-through bay for our tour customers to unload their luggage,” Arensdorf says.
Village Travel’s current building has five bays with mechanic pits. The new building has 17 bays and the ability to lift buses in the air to work on them in addition to the pits.
Two of the bays will be for body shop work. The rest are for general maintenance.
Also with the new building, Village Travel will be able to park 52 coaches outside and 17 inside compared with only five inside now and 26 outside.
“When they’re all here, we’ve just been double parking them,” Arensdorf says.
Village Travel has 139 buses for its work in Wichita, Salina, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Springdale and Fort Smith, Ark., and Springfield, Mo.
When the company started in 1980 with office space at Twin Lakes, it offered ski tours. It added its first coach in 1981. In 1983, it added other tours and then moved to its current site in 1984.
“We maximized this place,” Arensdorf says.
At the new building, the company has room to add more office and shop space along with extra parking.
“All of our administration is centralized in Wichita, so as we’ve gotten bigger regionally, we’ve had to hire more people,” Arensdorf says. “That’s the biggest reason for building as big of a facility as we are.”
About this time last year, it also branched into the entertainer coach business. It uses 22 of its buses to transport entertainers and their bands and crews around the country and beyond.
“That’s a big deal,” Arensdorf says. “With that segment of the business, we compete nationally.”
He says that’s where the major growth potential is for the company as well.
Also, Arensdorf says there is a lot of consolidating going on in the tour bus industry right now as smaller companies sell.
“We’re a good prospective company to acquire them.”
With the move into its new space, Village Travel is completing a rebranding of its entire fleet.
Arensdorf says the company has been known by various names through the years as its business has grown and changed, such as Village Charters when it started and then Village Tours & Travel. Now it is simply Village Travel.
“It’s kind of fit in nicely with the new building,” Arensdorf says.
He says the company’s move happens Friday.
“Everybody’s really excited about it.”
Brad Saville of Landmark Commercial Real Estate is marketing the Village Travel space at 8620 W. 21st St. for sale or lease.
The four acres, with a 20,000-square-foot building, are attracting attention from a lot of potential users and developers “because it’s so well located at 21st and Tyler,” Saville says.
“It’s pretty rare to find . . . that much land available at that location,” Saville says.
“There’s just a wide variety of uses that could work there.”