Kerlin Bus Sales and Leasing founder Ed Kerlin (third from left) has retired, but his family continues to run the company. From left: President Clifford Zehr, who is Kerlin’s son-in-law, Zehr’s wife, Cindy, who is chief financial officer, and Melanie Zehr, who handles marketing and is Clifford and Cindy’s daughter.
Kerlin Bus Sales and Leasing Inc. of Silver Lake, Ind., recently celebrated its 50-year anniversary as Thomas Built Buses’ dealer for the state, and for this family-run company, training for its customers is a top priority.
Kerlin offers training for both school bus drivers and technicians in an effort to ensure that they are well informed on the latest technology in the industry.
“Training is probably one of the best things we can do for our customers,” President Clifford Zehr says.
Keeping drivers, technicians up to speed
In the bus driver training courses, Zehr says drivers who are moving from 10- or 15-year-old buses to newer buses are educated on the new technology and how they should work with it.
The company also invites mechanics from every school district in the state, as well as authorized service center mechanics, to training classes twice a year. Kerlin trains on Thomas Built’s electrical equipment, and it also uses one whole day to instruct on different components of the buses.
Zehr says that the training teaches technicians how to troubleshoot issues using computerized diagnostic equipment, check a bus’ performance and check the fuel mileage of the bus. Technicians are also trained to go online to get the latest information on their buses and to download wiring diagrams.
“Being a mechanic is more than just being able to turn wrenches,” Zehr says.
He also notes that the training is very hands on, and that Kerlin tries to break down the information to make it simpler with less technical terminology. Zehr says he believes this is important because the technicians have to know what is happening and what they are looking at to be able to fix it.
“Knowledge is priceless, as I always say,” he adds.