CINCINNATI — The past year has brought some significant changes for First Student. Last fall, the company merged with Laidlaw Education Services, which was the largest school bus contractor in North America. In May, First Student and parent FirstGroup America moved into a new headquarters in Cincinnati. In another key development, Carey Paster, previously the president of First Student, was promoted to CEO and president of sales, marketing and commercial development for FirstGroup America. Paster recently discussed these changes with SBF Executive Editor Thomas McMahon. SBF: What led to your transition?
CAREY PASTER: Since the acquisition of Laidlaw by FirstGroup America in October 2007, we have achieved a great deal in successfully integrating the two companies. Now we are focusing on delivering our strategy for the future, which includes continuous improvement in our delivery of a safe, customer-focused operation. Therefore, the company is now structured in two segments: Commercial Development and Operations. We are continually focused on increasing operating efficiencies and growing the business by identifying new business opportunities while maintaining current business.
What are your key responsibilities in your new position? Will you be working with FirstGroup America’s non-school bus businesses?
As CEO and president of sales, marketing and commercial development I will focus on growing the business and delivering customer excellence to the existing customers of First Student, First Transit and First Services. As president of First Student for several years and with more than 27 years of experience in the school bus industry, I have an extensive knowledge of school bus transportation. However, I am eager and energized to learn the new terrain of First Transit and First Vehicle Services, as I lead their commercial development structure as well.
Where was FirstGroup America previously based?
Our offices were previously located at 705 Central Avenue in Cincinnati, and we have moved to 600 Vine Street in downtown Cincinnati to accommodate our expanding employee population. The new office space, which represents nearly 82,000 square feet on four full floors, is occupied by FirstGroup America executives and provides the operational base for First Student, First Transit and First Vehicle Services.
Is there a new president of First Student?
My counterpart, Mike Murray, who previously served as president of First Transit, has been appointed CEO and president of operations for FirstGroup America, responsible for delivering operational excellence for First Student, First Transit and First Services.
How long have you been with FirstGroup?
I joined FirstGroup America in 1999, with the acquisition of Ryder Student Transportation, and was appointed senior vice president of operations for First Student. In 2001, I was appointed chief operating officer for First Student and remained in that position until March 2004, when I was named president. As I look back on the positions and my journey with FirstGroup America, it has really been a great ride, and I look forward to our continued company success and the new opportunities that are available with my new role.