BUS REPORT Fall 2010
As Thomas Built Buses approaches its 95th anniversary, I find myself regarding the company with the respect I would accord a family elder. At this venerable age, Thomas truly is the patriarch of the school bus industry. There's a lot to be learned from a company that has survived – and thrived – for so long. In a world where companies come and go, Thomas is a noteworthy exception.
Although I'm a newcomer to the company, it's apparent to me that the company benefits from an extraordinary focus on a shared goal. From its inception in 1916, Thomas, its employees, dealers and customers have shared a commitment to providing dependable, safe, reliable transportation.
And, even more noteworthy, that's a goal shared by the entire school bus industry. According to the American School Bus Council, school buses are recognized as the safest mode of transportation in the world, with over 10 billion student trips per year, serving over 24 million school-age children annually. No other form of transportation can cite safety statistics as impressive as those. No other industry is as focused on a single mission.
Although our values haven't wavered, founder Perley Thomas might not recognize today's school buses. Over all these years, the company has never stopped innovating. Just look at the changes in the past few years alone. There's been an amazing acceleration in technology, resulting in cleaner fuels and greener solutions. New hybrid-electric diesel technology. The introduction of fuel-efficient SCR. The increased demand for CNG buses. A new plant built specifically for production of the truly innovative C2. The result: the best of innovation, firmly rooted in tradition.
I suspect that the school bus transportation industry will continue to be challenged by funding issues, with teaching staff, infrastructure and transportation all vying for limited budgets. Economic realities mean that our customers often have long term relationships with their vehicles – ten, fifteen or even twenty years isn't unusual – placing more emphasis on durability and the importance of ongoing service and support.
As we learn from the past and look ahead to the future, Thomas Built Buses will be right there, an industry leader helping provide safe transportation for school children across North America.
Kelley S. Platt
President and CEO
Thomas Built Buses