SBF’s Frank Di Giacomo (left) presents the Contractor of the Year award to members of the Kobussen family: Ann, Scott, Joe, Dan, Melissa (Miller), Marion and Jim Kobussen.
Photo by Bob Kapsy
If the length of a contract is any indication of a bus company’s quality of service to a school district, Kobussen Buses has some strong evidence: The contractor has been transporting students for Kaukauna (Wis.) Area School District for nearly 75 years.
And then there’s the contract with nearby Neenah Joint School District, which began in 1967 and continues to this day.
Kobussen Buses Ltd.’s dedication extends beyond its district customers. Over the years, members of the Kobussen family have served as key contributors to school transportation associations, and they are known for lending a hand to colleagues.
“I’ve been in the business 40-plus years now, and I’ve known that if you ever had a question, you could pick up the phone and they’d take the time to talk to you and help out,” says Magda Dimmendaal, president of the National School Transportation Association (NSTA) and CEO of another Wisconsin bus company, Dousman Transport Inc. “Whether you were in the area and had a bus breakdown or whatever, they’d be right there to help you out.”
For their commendable efforts in their local communities and in the broader pupil transportation community, SCHOOL BUS FLEET has named the Kobussens its 2012 Contractor of the Year.
Frank Di Giacomo, publisher of SBF, presented the award to the Kobussens during NSTA’s annual convention, which was held in Milwaukee in mid-July.
Family business roots
With “bus” being part of the family name, it would seem that the Kobussens were destined for the transportation business. But founder Elwood Kobussen was a farmer first.
In 1938, the Kaukauna Area School District asked Elwood if he would be interested in transporting rural students to the high school, and he accepted the offer. Thus began Kaukauna Bus Service.
Over the years, more and more Kobussens came aboard the family business (which was renamed Kobussen Buses Ltd. in ‘68). Today, it is still owned and operated by the family. Joe, Dan, Ann, Scott and Melissa (Miller) Kobussen are the shareholders.
The Kobussens have long been involved in industry associations. Both Dan and his father, Jim, have served as president of the Wisconsin School Bus Association.
Dan is currently a board member for NSTA, and he is vice chair of its association and industry development committee. He has also represented Wisconsin and NSTA at the National Congress on School Transportation.