Midwest Transit Equipment employs over 200 people and has a $4 million parts inventory.
It has been 36 years since Jim Bridgewater Sr. bought Midwest Transit Equipment from a family in Illinois. Over the years the company has grown, more locations have been developed and the company became one of the largest bus dealers in the U.S.
Working to the top
Barry Huebner, president of the company, began working in the industry in 1973 as a mechanic in contract operations for a company that later became a dealer. He then went to work in sales for the dealership before it was bought out by Midwest Transit Equipment in 1987. He continued to work for the company, and in 1996, he moved to the corporate headquarters in Kankakee, Ill.
“It gives us a lot of empathy for our customers and what they’re doing every day,” Huebner says about working from the bottom to the top of the company. “We understand what they’re doing.”
Jim Bridgewater Jr., vice president of sales and marketing for Midwest Transit Equipment, started working in the industry just a few years after Huebner in 1977. Just like Huebner, Bridgewater started as a mechanic and worked his way up in the company through sales and management. “It’s been challenging and rewarding, but I’ve met a lot of talented people over the years,” Bridgewater says.
Both Huebner and Bridgewater agree that having mechanical experience has helped them immensely in not only working to the top of the company but in running it as well.
Holding high standards
Not only did Midwest Transit Equipment earn IC Bus’ North American Tom Cellitti Dealer of the Year Award for 2011, the company also earned a certificate of achievement, an award of honor and the millennium cup from the Millennium Risk Control workshop in Chicago in 2011. In 2010, the company earned the Distinguished Service Award from the Illinois Association for Pupil Transportation/Illinois School Transportation Association, and it earned an IC Bus quota buster award and was named an IC Bus regional dealer of the year in 2008. In 2005, it earned awards from IC Bus, Collins Bus and Mid Bus.
The company has earned many other awards over the years as well.
“We’ve consistently been a quota buster,” Huebner says about the company’s many accomplishments.
Midwest Transit Equipment strives to go above and beyond the business of the school bus industry. Since 2009, the employees and the company have donated $50,000 to United Way of Kankakee County. The company has sponsored a team for Relay for Life in Kankakee County, created a health and wellness program for employees and their spouses, and worked with many other charities. It also released a magazine, Transportation Solutions.