HUTCHINSON, Kan. — In a deal that promised to make North America’s largest producer of Type A school buses even larger, Collins Industries Inc. purchased “select assets” from Les Entreprises Michel Corbeil Inc.
The news came a week after a September announcement by Corbeil that it was shutting down its bus manufacturing plant in Saint-Lin-Laurentides, Quebec.
Randall Swift, president and CEO of Collins Industries, said that the purchase will give the company’s bus division “a significant platform to continue our growth in the Type A bus market.”
Officials at Collins Industries, which manufactures buses under the Collins Bus and Mid Bus brands, said they plan to market the Corbeil brand name in the northeastern U.S. and Canada through dealer and national account relationships. Collins Bus Corp. President Kent Tyler said that the purchase “should send a clear message to our dealers and customers of our commitment to this industry.”
After Corbeil shut down its manufacturing plant in late September, President Camile Chartrand told Canadian media that the company was no longer competitive with American manufacturers, citing an increase in the value of the Canadian dollar and a decrease in demand for school buses as reasons for the shutdown.
In recent years, the 130,000-square-foot facility built about 2,500 bus bodies per year. The company offered a range of Type A school buses on GMC, Ford and Chevrolet chassis.
In related news, Collins Industries announced the closing of the Mid Bus Inc. production facility in Bluffton, Ohio, and plans to move Mid Bus production to its main facility in South Hutchinson, Kan., by Nov. 9.
“With underutilized manufacturing capacity in our Kansas plant, coupled with recent manufacturing initiatives, we concluded that we could absorb excess volume and alleviate costly duplication of resources through moving the Mid Bus product line to Collins Bus Corp. in South Hutchinson,” Swift said.
Company officials met with affected employees in the Bluffton plant to announce the impending closure. The company said that it intended to provide affected employees first consideration of any employment opportunities for which they are qualified at Collins Bus Corp.