Maintenance, training are key
Colleagues say that Kobussen Buses is known for having a top-notch fleet.
“Their buses are always clean and well maintained,” Dimmendaal says. “They run the company with pride.”
Scott Kobussen notes that all shop personnel are required to have some schooling, and the company pays for further educational opportunities.
Among the instruction for Kobussen’s bus drivers is skid-pad training at Fox Valley Technical College.
“They take the bus into a full skid,” Dan Kobussen says. “It helps them understand braking and loss of control. They know how to handle the bus better.”
Kobussen Buses started a driver training program in the early ‘70s — even though it wasn’t yet required by the state of Wisconsin. During this time, Jim Kobussen became a certified driver training instructor and began teaching classes at Fox Valley.
“My dad put a lot of effort into working with the technical college,” Dan says. “They have since become a leader in driver training in Wisconsin.”
The focus on training has been a key factor in the company’s exemplary safety record. Monthly driver meetings are held at each terminal, covering a wide range of topics.
Also, every terminal has a safety director, who is “constantly doing driver observations out on the road to keep everyone up to par,” Scott says.
In recent years, Kobussen Buses has made significant investments in new buses, equipment and facilities.
“They’re always at the forefront of new technology,” Dimmendaal says. “Rather than fighting mandates, they see the benefits of the improvements.”
Scott Kobussen says that the company — which runs 31 motorcoaches in addition to its 452 school buses — took delivery two years ago of some of the first motorcoaches in the U.S. to be equipped with lap-shoulder belts.
Three years ago, Kobussen Buses opened a new terminal in Madison, Wis. (All of the company’s 12 school district customers are in Wisconsin.) Among the features of the facility are geothermal heating and a two-way radio system that records all transmissions and can check drivers in and out.
But perhaps more than anything, it is the company’s commitment to its customers that keeps them renewing their contracts.
“We flex with the school districts as much as we can,” Dan Kobussen says. “We’ve reduced prices for them when they’re in a tight spot.”