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October 25, 2011  |   Comments (1)   |   Post a comment

Young guns in the yellow bus industry

In this new feature, we turn the spotlight on the younger side of school transportation. Find out how these movers and shakers got involved in the industry, how they contribute to its success and what they see in its future.


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The best career advice that Dennis Huffmon has been given is to start the day before 7 a.m. and to not let anyone outwork you.
<p>The best career advice that Dennis Huffmon has been given is to start the day before 7 a.m. and to not let anyone outwork you.</p>
Dennis Huffmon
Vice President and General Manager, IC Bus - North America, Warrenville, Ill.

What are your key responsibilities in your job?
Ensure that IC Bus delivers long-lasting, reliable products by acting as a customer ally within the industry.

When and how did you first become involved in the school bus industry?
I joined the industry in 2007 as the assistant general manager for IC Bus. Past performance within [parent company] Navistar afforded me the opportunity to take on this greater role.

What did you do before that?
I have been with Navistar for the last 10 years. Prior to joining IC Bus, I was accountable for the used truck organization for International Trucks.

Tell us about any involvement you have with industry associations.
I'm a major supporter of NAPT, NASDPTS [the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services] and NSTA [the National School Transportation Association]. I have been working directly with ASBC [the American School Bus Council] to advocate for the yellow school bus industry.

What do you find to be most challenging in your job?
Today's economic condition and the restraint it has placed on our school districts. Like many, I have children — two boys — so I am fully aware of the resource issues our local districts have and the budget tradeoffs that are being made. As an industry, we must become a solution provider to create even greater value within the education system.

What's the best advice that someone has given you in your career?
Successful people start their day before 7 a.m., and do not allow anyone to outwork you.

How do you think the school bus industry will change over the next 20 years or so?
I think it will continue to evolve and be challenged to do things differently. The leaders within the industry today need to shape what it can and should become. Hence the work of ASBC. It's about how we become better — not only individually, but collectively.

Do you see a need for the industry to attract more young people?
I don't think it is a function of young or old; I think it's more of a function of fresh ideas, and those can come from anyone and from anywhere. I would tend to believe that there are a number of new people coming into the industry. For example, I see it within the IC Bus dealer channel.


Dallas Rackow sees GPS making significant changes in school transportation. She believes that the industry is undergoing a revolution in safety, security and efficiencies. 
<p>Dallas Rackow sees GPS making significant changes in school transportation. She believes that the industry is undergoing a revolution in safety, security and efficiencies.</p><p> </p>

Dallas Rackow
Director of Transportation, Freeport School District, Freeport, Ill.

What are your key responsibilities in your job?
I'm the director of transportation and am responsible for all aspects of the operation: maintenance, routing, budget, student services and human resource management.

When and how did you first become involved in the school bus industry?
It was a fluke, really. I was looking for a job that would have me home more (I was traveling a lot) and interviewed for the position more for interview experience than anything.

What did you do before that?

I was in human resources for an electronics manufacturer.

Tell us about any involvement you have with industry associations.
I'm a board member of the Illinois Association for Pupil Transportation.

What do you like most about being part of the school bus industry?
The ability to work with students and families as well as the opportunity to see the dedication the drivers, mechanics and office staff display every day.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of your job?
That's tough, but I would say the continuing budget issues.

What's the best advice that someone has given you in your career?

To do my best, to put myself in the other person's shoes and to give up on trying to make everyone happy.

How do you think the school bus industry will change over the next 20 years or so?
I see GPS technology changing how we do things, from routing to student tracking; I think the industry is in the midst of a revolution in safety, security and efficiencies.

Do you see a need for the industry to attract more young people? If so, how can it be done?
Definitely. I'm not really sure on how to attract others. There's not much glamour in pupil transportation, but the satisfaction of knowing that what you do every day matters to thousands of families and that you are part of a bigger wheel is pretty amazing.

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Sorry to differ with ms. Walton,but I fail to see the vast knowledge involved in the school bus industry. It's not exactly as challenging as per say a brain surgeon's or rocket scientist's education.

george lowinnger    |    Oct 25, 2011 11:37 PM

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