Leabourn Passenger Services Ltd | Driving business success in the North

For more than half a century, the Leabourn family has been transporting people from A to B.

Based in Wellsford, north of Auckland and with workshops in both that town and Kaiwaka, Leabourn Passenger Services is predominately a school bus operator, but has more than 80 vehicles in its fleet ferrying people in buses, vans, taxis and cars.

Former accountant Lyndon Leabourn has been at the helm for the past 10 years, the third generation of the Leabourn family to run the business.

“My grandfather started Leabourn’s with one bus in Kaiwaka,” says Lyndon. He also had the only taxi in the area – not many people owned a car in those days. When my father joined him in the business, they bought another bus and operated Ministry of Education (MOE) school contracts. I joined a decade ago and have been solely running and growing the business since 2007.”

De-regulation of the transport industry in the 1980s, which saw the MOE pulling out of providing school transport services, enabled Leabourns to expand rapidly. “Our fleet grew from six to 20 vehicles with a staff of eight full-time and 60 part-timers,” says Lyndon. “We have also purchased other transport businesses over the years, increasing our offering to include special needs transport, event and festival shuttles and rental cars. And our Chrysler 300C and vintage bus are popular with wedding parties.”

Leabourns has been providing the North with vital tourism coach services for the past 25 years, taking visitors and locals alike on chartered tours of the Bay of Islands, Taupo and Hawke’s Bay. Every year, Leabourns takes a group of seniors to North Island destinations, but this coming June, they will host the group to Rarotonga; the first international package tour the company has organised.

Watching the company flourish and helping the Leabourns with their financial management for the past 25 years has been Moore Stephens Markhams’ Auckland office, initially with Geoff Hatten and more recently, director Jess Gilmour.

“The firm was recommended to us by our lawyer,” says Lyndon. “We work very closely with Jess, who has been looking after our business for the past 10 years. She’s really good and I think she’s a ‘different’ type of accountant in that she’s very proactive in understanding our business, including coming up to Kaiwaka and Wellsford to meet with us and see our operation in action.”

Lyndon says that if any big decisions are to be made, they’re always run by Jess first. “Although I have an accounting background, for any large purchases or expenditure I will chat to her and keep her in the loop.

“Jess has also been really good at identifying new software for our business and managing its implementation with staff. She is always at the end of the phone, is very approachable and always available.”

For the next 12 months, Lyndon is focusing on bedding in another new purchase – a Ruawai school bus company. But as for the longer term, he says topics like succession planning aren’t on the table yet. “With two sons aged 9 and 11, it’s not something we’ve discussed yet!”