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KCK-Built Limousines for Solemn Occasions, Not Revelers
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SPV Coach Company Plant Manager Mark Gaither discusses design modifications on what will become a Cadillac hearse with company President Sean Myers and Jason Cartwright who serves as Vice President.
Credit:  Michael McClure

The limousines manufactured by an area company are absent wet bars, colorful lighting and elaborate music systems. Seats face the car's front, providing privacy, instead of the usual bench-style seats in which passengers face each other for ease of conversation. Built-in tissue boxes serve as a clue to the purpose of these luxury limos, which, like other up-scale Cadillacs, sport genuine leather seats and thick, cushiony carpeting on the floor.

These custom-built limousines have a unique calling, minus the usual limo revelers, on their way to happy occasions, such as prom or a wedding party. The atmosphere inside these cars is much more subdued. They're used to transport passengers during a family's most difficult time--on the way to the cemetery to bury a loved one.

Sean Myers, president and chief executive officer of Southwest Professional Vehicles (SPV), Inc., takes the company's responsibility seriously. Myers believes that when families are transporting the remains of a loved one to their final destination, the journey should be made in style. That's why his company is constantly upgrading their special-made vehicles to include new amenities not found in other Cadillacs. These include not only special-made tissue boxes, but also more high-tech features, such as built-in DVD players, designed to allow loved ones to watch the same family videos many funeral homes now show at memorial services.

"To our knowledge, it's the first time in our funeral niche, that it (adding DVD players) has been done," said Jason Cartwright, SPV vice president of manufacturing.

But SPV's manufacturing process doesn’t produce just limousines to transport loved ones. The company also creates hearses, otherwise known as funeral coaches, to transport caskets to cemeteries.

A long process awaits each limousine and hearse before reaching its final destination--funeral homes. First, Cadillac ships sedans to SPV. The company, whose plant is near 10th Street and Central Avenue in Kansas City, Kansas, has earned "Cadillac Master Coachbuilder" program status, meaning they are legally allowed to alter the vehicles, while maintaining the manufacturers' warranty, Sean Myers explained. The car body is fitted on a special "bench jig" used to hold it in place and support the vehicle while it's "stretched." The device holds the car in perfect alignment while it's altered.

These vehicles start around $75,000 and can go for more money, depending on amenities and add-on features.

Funeral coaches, or hearses, are created using specially-designed Cadillacs minus the rear end features, such as back, trunk, bumper, back window, etc. Also created on the "bench jig," the back end of funeral coaches are created in the shop, said Myers, who lives in the Plaza area with his wife and two young children.

Because the present SPV location was once ACME Radiator and Air Conditioner Repair, local residents are accustomed to stopping into the shop for car repairs. Therefore, Myers decided to add car repair, on any type vehicle, to the shop’s list of available services.

"We just share our expertise, which we have going through special certification, to repair other people's vehicles," Myers said. "It's been surprising how many people need help with their cars."

SPV officials and employees proudly hold other distinctions. SPV is one of the only Cadillac Certified Master Coachbuilder companies in the world to restore and rebuild funeral coaches and limousines damaged in accidents. Sometimes, funeral homes sell their used coaches and limos to SPV, where they are rebuilt and sold to smaller funeral companies. Rebuilding old or wrecked limousines is where the company makes the most money.

"That's our bread-and-butter," Myers explained.

SPV holds yet another distinction among Cadillac manufacturers. They use genuine leather on their add-on seats, rather than vinyl. Myers said SPV makes quality a priority.

"They (other companies) are just trying to make money," he said. "We're trying to build a good car."

But cars used for funerals are different than regular passenger vehicles. Myers said the year these funeral cars were manufactured, and mileage on the odometer, are less crucial in funeral cars. It's not unusual for the mileage on a 19-year-old car to read 50,000 or less. That's because most funeral vehicles travel only a few miles from the funeral home to the cemetery.

"Funeral cars are like parade cars," Myers said. "They stay in the garage, and get washed and waxed and then go three miles."

Cartwright said the vehicles' special designs make the work interesting.

"It's very creative and exciting," he said, adding that the company "creates different body lines, features and options" not found in other Cadillacs.

SPV Coach, which is in the process of moving its operating base to Kansas City, Kansas, is the largest distributor of luxury limos to funeral homes in the country. In addition, about 5 percent of the company's vehicles make their way to foreign countries, Cartwright said. Those countries include Belgium, Korea, Russia, South Africa and Mexico, Myers said.

The company also creates hearses designed to carry caskets to cemeteries.

SPV currently employs 17 people, but soon will expand to a total of 25, Cartwright said. That expansion will happen because the company is moving its headquarters from Dallas to Kansas City, Kansas. Small sales offices will continue to be located in Georgia and North Carolina. Over the next few years, the company plans to employ up to 45 people.

"We've made a great investment here in Kansas City, Kansas," Myers said, "and we'd like to centralize our business here."

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Comments 6 comments for this article
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Added: December 09, 2009. 11:16 PM CDT
Ask him who signs all his legal documents,I'm pretty sure it's not him.
Anonymous
Added: December 09, 2009. 10:19 PM CDT
Crook and a thief
Sean Myers doen't care about his customers, he only cares about money. He doesn't even give a crap about his employees, he will fire them just to make his self look better. Sean Myers is a fake and a busines loser.
You Know
Added: December 08, 2009. 03:19 PM CDT
Sean Myers is nothing more than a crook and a liar. He sell his own mother if he could get enough money, and as for the quality of his cars, he could care less if they fell apart as long as he gets his money.
Anonymous
Added: December 07, 2009. 03:02 PM CDT
Sean Bland
Wanna play Mr. Bland???? You are a loser and will always be a loser.
Anonymous
Added: December 07, 2009. 02:59 PM CDT
You are a jerk
Anonymous
Added: November 13, 2009. 12:32 PM CDT
I Like to Drive
I would be happy to drive anyone for free. I am a licensed driver.

Alan L. Maki
Brown Stone Drivers

58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell: 651-587-5541
E-mail: [email protected]
Anonymous
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