Girardin Minibus Inc.’s foray into the school bus industry
began in 1958 when the Quebec government
centralized the province’s education system,
necessitating the transport of students to schools in
Founder Lionel Girardin saw this as an opportunity, and he
acquired one of the first school bus contracts in the province.
He purchased the company’s first bus from a scrap yard and
restored it with help from his sons André and Marcel.
The company was initially based in the small village of
St.-Félix-de-Kingsey in Quebec, but to foster growth, Lionel
and André established a new location in Drummondville
(the current headquarters) several years later.
In 1968, Girardin acquired a franchise to distribute buses
manufactured by Blue Bird Corp.; the companies have maintained
a successful partnership.
When Lionel Girardin passed away in 1972, André and
Marcel took over the company. It has since enjoyed milestones
on the manufacturing front, with models including
the MB-II minibus and the G5 school bus.
Girardin continues to operate as a family-owned business.
André’s son Steve is president of Girardin Minibus, while
Steve’s brother, Dave, is president of dealer A. Girardin Inc.
The Girardins celebrated their company’s history and
50 years in business on May 23 with team members, suppliers,
Blue Bird officials and school and commercial bus
owners, among others, at the Hotel des Seigneurs in St.-
Trade show highlights
The day’s events, which drew approximately 900 attendees,
commenced with a trade show featuring a Girardin Minibus
booth with information on its school and commercial buses,
as well as booths for the company’s major suppliers.
Girardin Parts, which sells and stores school bus components
from a 22,000 square-foot warehouse, had two booths
at the show — one with chassis components and the other
with bus body parts and supplies from such companies as
Rosco Vision Systems and Weldon Technologies Inc.
Allison Transmission Inc. and Cummins Inc. were also
represented. On display at the Cummins booth was an engine
used in Girardin units, and there was a slide show that
explained how selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology
works. (SCR is the emissions solution that Cummins is
utilizing to help school bus manufacturers meet the EPA’s
2010 emissions standards.)
At wheelchair passenger safety solutions provider
Q’Straint’s booth, components of the company’s occupant
securement products were on view. Q’Straint celebrates its
25th anniversary this year. In a testament to the closeness of
the Girardin family, Q’Straint President Jean-Marc Girardin’s
three children now work with him at this family-owned business and are helping him to prepare for the next generation
of Q’Straint leadership.
(Jean-Marc Girardin is one of Lionel Girardin’s five sons.
In the early 1980s, Jean-Marc directed the opening of Girardin
Minibus’ factory in Cambridge, Ontario, to produce the
Wheelchair lift provider Ricon Corp. has also enjoyed a long
and successful relationship with Girardin Minibus. Ricon’s KSeries
KlearVue lift was on display at the trade show. According
to Jean-François Viau, regional sales manager, the company
released a new and improved version of this lift and its
other wheelchair lift for school buses, the S-Series unit, earlier
this year. They are built based on the company’s next generation
model for the K- and S-Series line — the “L” model. (The
older, first generation model is the “F” model.)
For information on the new K-Series KlearVue and S-Series
lifts, see the February 2009 issue of SCHOOL BUS FLEET.
There were also several school and commercial buses at the
trade show, including four small school buses manufactured
by Girardin (one was the G5) and three large school buses
manufactured by Blue Bird.
Blue Bird launches the TX3
Toward the end of the trade show, Blue Bird officials unveiled
the company’s TX3 school bus. Two versions were on
view — one with English text and another with French text.
Attendees had an opportunity to board both buses, sit in the
driver’s seat, look under the hood and examine the other
The Blue Bird TX3 is the same Type D All American school
bus that the company unveiled at the National Association
for Pupil Transportation Trade Show in Myrtle Beach, S.C.,
last October. Blue Bird officials said the bus has been branded
as the TX3 primarily for eastern Canada as marketed by A.
Girardin Inc. to its option content specifications.
Ending on a festive note
Attendees enjoyed refreshments at a cocktail hour that followed
the trade show and then went to dinner, which was accompanied
by entertainment from Samina, a jazz singer.
In addition to the live music, Steve and Dave Girardin introduced
a video that synopsized the company’s inception and
achievements over the past 50 years, and they thanked attendees
and members of the Girardin family for their support.
Also during dinner, the winners of a contest held during
the trade show were announced.
(Bus company owners entered to win one of three seven-day
cruises for two people to the east Caribbean on the Oasis
of the Seas ship by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.)
The contest winners were Doris Besson of Autobus Gérard
Besson, Carole Grondin of Autobus Carole Grondin Enr., and
Remy Boivin of Autobus Montmagny Inc.
The evening ended with a concert from a French disco
group named the Boogie Wonder Band.