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

Around the Industry

Here's a look at what's new with several of this year's Top 50 Contractors as well as the group that brings many of them together: the National School Transportation Association.

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STA Acquires Positive Connections
Student Transportation of America (STA) of Wall, N.J., has acquired Illinois-based Positive Connections Inc.

Through the acquisition, STA gains 400 vehicles and more than $18 million in annual revenue. Company officials said the deal, which comprises six locations in Illinois and Minnesota, also establishes a new platform for operations and growth in the Midwest.

“With a company of this size, we have the opportunity to execute our strategy of adding regional density through acquisitions, bids and conversions in nearby communities and to expand further in other Midwestern states,” said Denis Gallagher, chairman and CEO of STA.

In SBF’s Top 50 Contractors list for 2005, Positive Connections was ranked No. 29. In this year’s list, STA remains at the No. 5 spot but has increased its total school bus fleet from 3,087 to 4,017, a gain of 30 percent.

Michael Perry and Diann Crawford will continue with Positive Connections, with Perry remaining president.

“We will continue to run our operations with a local face and brand, emphasizing our strong commitment to safety,” Perry says.


Cook-Illinois Runs with Biodiesel
At the beginning of the 2005-06 school year, Cook-Illinois Corp. began running biodiesel in most of its school buses, making it one of the few contractors in the U.S. to use the alternative fuel.

The family-owned and -operated school bus contractor, which is based in Oak Forest, Ill., has long been dedicated to keeping itself on the forefront of fuel technology, having used compressed natural gas in the ‘70s and propane in the ‘80s.

Cook-Illinois and its subsidiaries are currently running about 1,000 of their more than 1,400 total school buses on biodiesel in blends from B11 to B20. Chief Operating Officer John Benish Jr. says that within the next half-year, the company will be using biodiesel in all or nearly all of its buses.

Benish says that Cook-Illinois has seen clear benefits from using the fuel. “So far it’s been great — we’ve had a good response from the public and it’s better for the engines and the environment,” he says.


Riteway to ring in its 50th year
In 1957, with a fleet of four school buses, Rollie and Pearl Bast set out to serve the busing needs of the Germantown (Wis.) School District by creating Riteway Bus Service Inc.

As it prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, Riteway is still in the business of transporting pupils to and from Wisconsin schools, but now it does so with a fleet of more than 500 buses. Second and third generations of the Bast family continue to oversee the company.

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