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March 01, 2006  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

SBF's 2006 Contractor Showcase

Meet three of the nation's largest school bus contractors, and find out what separates them from the rest of the pack.

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Implementing ideas for growth and efficiency

Durham School Services
Downers Grove, Ill.

What’s your company’s outlook for the 2005-06 school year?
Our company is looking forward to continued growth and pursuit of efficiencies in 2005-06.

What’s been the most positive aspect of this school year thus far?
Our continued safe performance and retention of qualified professionals at all levels within our organization, as well as the addition of personnel from outside our organization who are giving us a different perspective.

Are school district budgets returning to normal?
If normal means “stretched,” then yes. There’s no question financial resources available to school districts are being reduced while demands are being increased.

How have you managed costs this year? Have you been able to reduce overhead?
We have developed strategic initiatives targeting those areas of cost that are most controllable by us. Additionally, we have worked with our customers to take cost out of their operations, which enables us to reduce our cost as well. Overheads are being controlled but not necessarily reduced.

Have you seen any changes, positive or negative, in the employee labor pool? How are you dealing with driver shortage, if you have any?
The available pool of individuals qualified and willing to work in the school bus industry appears to be dwindling. Stringent qualifications and challenges with people and machines in our industry make it easy for people to look elsewhere for employment. Where driver shortages do exist, we rely upon all available resources, internal and external, to make sure our customers’ needs are met.

How are you being affected by rising fuel costs?

What’s your company’s greatest strength?
The ability and willingness of all our personnel to demonstrate expertise, creativity and flexibility in meeting the needs of our customers and employees.

What’s the greatest single skill you have that makes you qualified for your job?
I am able to identify and surround myself with talented individuals.

Who has had the greatest influence on you with your career?
The superintendent of schools for whom I worked when I was in education and the chief executive for whom I worked during my first year in business.

What’s the last thing you do before leaving the office?
Turn off my computer, walk through the office and say good night to those who are still working.

— Questions answered by John A. Elliott

Fleet Facts
Fleet composition: 9,000+ vehicles
States operating in: 21
Canadian provinces operating in: N/a
Students transported: 800,000
School district contracts: 300+
Company head: John A. Elliott, president and CEO
Phone number: (800) 950-0485

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