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June 28, 2011  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

From Buggies to Buses: 135 Years in Transportation

Wolfington Body Co. began as a builder of horse-drawn carriages in the 19th century. The company adapted with the times and went on to thrive as a school bus distributor.

by Thomas McMahon - Also by this author

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The company eventually became a bus distributor, but it still uses the Wolfington Brougham as its symbol. The luxury carriage was drawn by a single horse and driven by a coachman.
<p>The company eventually became a bus distributor, but it still uses the Wolfington Brougham as its symbol. The luxury carriage was drawn by a single horse and driven by a coachman.</p>

Developing business
More than half a century after it became a bus distributor, Wolfington ventured into school bus contracting in 1987.

“It was a diversification that we decided to do,” Richard Sr. says. “The operating side of the company and the sales side go well together.”

Wolfington now runs about 250 school buses, transporting students for school districts in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Another significant change for the company came about 15 years ago, when it took on the responsibility of being a school bus chassis dealer in addition to being a body dealer.

“The shops that the body dealers ran 15 to 20 years ago didn’t have to have the sophistication that we have today,” Richard Sr. says. “So we had to upgrade our shops to bring them to the 21st century.”

He credits IC Bus for its support in that transition. The manufacturer, for which Wolfington Body Co. is a dealer, provides training for mechanics and sales people.

“They’re a very service-oriented manufacturer,” Richard Sr. says. “It’s done wonders for us. Because of this, we are a much bigger, stronger company than we were 15 years ago.”

One of Wolfington’s innovative offerings is its accelerated school bus replacement program for school districts.

“Instead of buying a bus and keeping it for 10 to 15 years — and having to build a shop, hire mechanics and do all that — we’ll replace the bus every two or three years with a brand-new bus,” Richard Sr. explains. “The bus is always under warranty, so the district never has to do any heavy maintenance to it.”

After the districts run the buses for two or three years, Wolfington offers them for sale to the private sector. Richard Sr. says that the program, which began nearly 50 years ago, has been beneficial for the company and for its customers.

Family company
Wolfington Body Co. currently has three locations, in Exton and New Buffalo, Pa., and Mt. Holly, N.J. In addition to IC Bus units, Wolfington distributes Type A buses from Collins Bus Corp. and a variety of commercial buses.

Richard Sr. is head of the overall company. Son Richard Jr. is general manager, while daughter Eganne Wolfington McGowan runs the transportation services operation.

In all, Wolfington Body Co. has about 100 full-time employees and about 300 part-time employees.

In April, the company held an open house to celebrate its 135th anniversary. On display were new buses as well as a restored 1898 Wolfington Brougham carriage.

When asked what has kept the company going so long, Richard Sr. thinks for a moment.

“Just the fact that we’re born and raised salespeople,” he says. “You never stop selling.”

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