The B and B team includes (from left) Brad Cohen, vice president; Steve Altschuler, fleet manager; Beth Cohen, president; Carol Frame, office manager; and Jeri McEwen, safety and training manager.
Humble Start on Road to Success
B and B Transportation Inc.
It all started with one stubborn bus.
These days, B and B Transportation Inc. serves 30 schools throughout Connecticut with a fleet of 61 school buses. But back in 1989, Beth and Brad Cohen’s new business venture was off to a shaky start.
The two had married in April of that year. A few months later, a local elementary school offered Brad a one-bus contract. So with the $2,500 that the newlyweds had in the bank, Brad went out and bought a $2,500 bus.
“He was so excited to bring it home to show me,” Beth recalls. “It was nice — as nice as a $2,500 bus can be.”
Once Beth had looked it over, she asked Brad to get it out of the driveway because it was blocking their cars. But when Brad attempted to start the bus, it refused to comply.
“We used all our money to purchase the bus, and we didn’t have anything left for repairs,” Beth says. “Somehow we managed, and this was the beginning of B and B Transportation.” Despite the initial technical difficulty, the company has maintained an outstanding record in the state’s once-a-year school bus inspections. Brad says that the B and B team has a good working relationship with state inspectors and actually looks forward to their visits.
Success in this area is achieved through a preventive maintenance program of lube, oil and filter service every 3,000 miles, a comprehensive safety service every three months and brake measurement every 6,000 miles or six months.
“Basically, the entire fleet rotates through the garage at least once a month,” Brad says.
Beth and Brad, who run B and B as president and vice president, respectively, say that they rely on a team of dedicated managers to keep the operation running smoothly. Fleet manager Steve Altschuler, safety and training manager Jeri McEwen and office manager Carol Frame have served the company for a total of about 22 years.
“We couldn’t do this alone,” Beth says. “They are a huge benefit to us, and our drivers are phenomenal.”
The first driver hired at B and B is still with the company today, and there’s a core group of drivers that have been there for 10 to 15 years.
Still, the driver shortage that plagues pupil transportation operations across the nation is no stranger here. Beth says that the unemployment rate in Connecticut is fairly low now, which adds to the challenge of finding drivers. Advertising in print and through word of mouth help in the search. Also, B and B has a training program that runs continually, so when a candidate meets the criteria to work there, he or she begins the program immediately rather than having to wait for one to start.
“Part of the challenge is that licensing for a school bus driver takes such a long time,” Beth says. “We have to do everything we can to keep their interest perked during the training process.”
To keep customers happy, the company commits itself to superior service, paying attention to such details as drivers being courteous and buses arriving on time.
“Those are the little things that our customers appreciate; it’s why they keep coming back,” Beth says. “Brad and I from the beginning said that if we were going to do this, we were going to do it right.”
— THOMAS MCMAHON
Students transported daily: 2,000
Schools served: 30
Transportation staff: 62
Average driver wage: $13/hour