'PARAMOUNT': OUR FAMILY NAME SINCE 1944
The history of Paramount Coaches is a story immersed in excellence. It was founded by one person’s sheer ingenuity and perseverance that saw an opportunity and drove it to success. The legacy of Paramount Coaches is all in their name and the hard work it takes to live up to it.
Mr. Joseph Grech was not only the founder of Paramount Coaches but also a pioneer who changed the country’s transport system. The name he gave to one of his first buses changed the nickname of his entire family and come to represent his paramount service and that of the company he then formed.
Being a keen follower of the Mosta village feast, he used to call his buses, “The Assumption”, but a suggestion made in 1944, by a relative on seeing his new modern truck, changed Mr. Grech’s mind where he branded his business as ‘Paramount’.
A Young Businessman Is Born
Mr. Joseph Grech entered the business world at the young age of 18. His father owned a commodities shop but was reluctant to let his shop fall into his young son’s hand at first. It was because of this reason that Mr. Grech went to work as a bus conductor with his brother.
Eventually, the father let the son run the shop, and the enterprising young man started expanding the business by getting a wider variety of stuff to sell. When war broke out he was appointed a distributor for rationed goods on a commission basis in Mosta, and later he became the official distributor for more villages. They had 32 commodities ranging from Thermos flasks to soap.
The Proud Owner of Buses
His first encounter with the bus-owning business came when he was encouraged to buy a bus which operated on the Cospicua-Valletta Route. “Its registration number was 3217 and it costs £1,900. He decided to buy it and sold it again within six weeks, making some £500 profit.
Then he made another deal, this time buying a permit to operate a bus on the Birkirkara-Mosta route. The number of permits had been restricted in the 1930’s so to operate a bus you had to buy either a permit or a bus with a permit. He bought permit number 2806 and turned a military truck he had into a bus. It was this bus which had the luxurious finish which led to the company name.
The Start of School Service
Mr. Grech did not look back after that and was later also asked to operate a daily service for school children who lived on the outskirts of Mgarr. This was the first school transport to be provided. Then other schools started requesting the service and tenders were issued. Being the only one able to offer the service, Mr. Grech used to get the tenders.
As the number of vans doing the rounds to collect school children grew, he devised a numbering system on vans so that children could identify which van was going to which school. This system was later adopted on bus routes when buses ceased to have a colour coding system, to indicate their route, and were all painted green.
The Successes and Pitfalls of Growth
Mr. Grech ensured that Paramount Service was always punctual and never left children stranded, By the 1960’s he was providing a service for all private schools as well as the schools run by the British forces in Malta. The Royal Navy no longer issued calls for tenders but kept, renewing his contract for ferrying the Royal Marines.
Although Paramount had some 27 buses and vans, Mr. Grech had to sub-contract to keep the business running. This provided challenges with other bus owners and local authorities since what Mr. Grech was doing was never seen on the island and was either misunderstood or envied.
Establishing A Coach Business
When Agatha Barbara, then the minister responsible for transport, established a tariff per mile for trips made, Mr. Grech changed the nature of his business from buses to coaches. Mr. Grech recalls working long, hard hours. He would start the week at 6 a.m. driving people from Mosta to Cospicua to carry drydocks workers on Monday.
Then he would make three successive trips with school children and at noon he would ferry a shift of workers to Ta’ Qali. This hard work paid off as the reputation, the pristine service and size of the business grew over the years.
A Paramount & Modern Coaching Company
Mr. Leo Grech, Mr. Joseph Grech’s son, is now in charge of the family run business. He has continued to expand the business and now controls one of the largest and most modern transportation fleets in the Maltese Islands. His latest investment was in a state of the art coach Depot and Coach station offering extended and modern capabilities to the company. Working on his father’s footsteps, Mr. Grech continues to bring determination in growing this business and ensuring that the name of the trade is still ‘Paramount’.