Rising costs, challenges

Frank Di Giacomo, Publisher
Posted on December 1, 2004

For better or worse, the 2004 presidential election is behind us. If you were in Cincinnati for the National Association for Pupil Transportation’s conference and trade show, you might have witnessed President Bush’s motorcade speeding away from a huge rally at a local ballpark on Halloween.

As you know, Ohio was a linchpin state in the election, pushing Bush over the top. It remains to be seen how his second term will play out, but I will never forget the sight of the president’s armada of blue-and-white police cars, black SUVs and limousines hurtling past the hotel and into the night.

Like President Bush, we in the pupil transportation industry have much to accomplish in the next few years. According to our discussions with many of you in Cincinnati, you’ve got challenges that are growing in size and number.

The transportation mandate for the No Child Left Behind Act is starting to be felt by many school districts. School choice programs and the transportation of homeless children are also straining your resources. The driver shortage, too, is picking up momentum.

Yes, costs are higher. . .
That’s why it’s so unfortunate that prices of school buses are on the rise. As you may have read in the Q&A with John O’Leary, president of Thomas Built Buses, the cost of manufacturing school buses is steadily mounting as demand for raw materials such as steel and plywood increases globally.

This is, of course, no fault of the industry’s bus manufacturers. They need to pass along these increases to their customers because margins are already so slim and investment in product development must continue.

If this industry doesn’t maintain a strong supply base, your equipment choices will be narrowed and the quality of the product will diminish. It’s imperative that the manufacturers and their component suppliers stay in good health. Your ability to convince your school boards or purchasing departments to invest in new buses is particularly critical at this juncture.

Yes, I’ve beat this drum before. And I will continue to beat it because I know it’s important. I have first-hand experience with the significance of investing in a product and seeing the dividends.

. . . but investments pay off
Like most good companies, SCHOOL BUS FLEET believes in product development. To that end, we retain an editorial adviser who critiques several issues a year and provides our editors with lengthy and detailed reviews. We invest in this guidance because we understand that we’re fighting for your time. With the help of our adviser, we’ve devised a formula that draws readers into the magazine and provides them with easily digested information that is both practical and urgent.

We must be doing something right. For the past three years, SBF has won an in-house competition called the Eddy Awards. Considering that Bobit Business Media, our parent company, publishes 21 magazines, this three-peat is remarkable!

I think our investment in product development is worth every penny. I hope you do, too. If you have ideas on how to make the magazine more responsive to your needs, please send me an e-mail. I’m sure the bus manufacturers would be equally interested in hearing from you. Don’t be afraid to contact your local dealers or factory representatives. They’ll appreciate your interest. I know that I do.

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