HIGH POINT, N.C. — A group of employees from Thomas Built Buses spent the weekend of Aug. 12-13 driving 10 school buses — and a van for the return trip — from the company's headquarters here to Trenton, N.J., to ensure on-time delivery of a recent order.
“Third party driveaway companies are in high demand this time of year and weren’t available to deliver the school buses on time, so we decided to do it ourselves,” said Ken Hedgecock, Thomas Built's vice president of sales, marketing and service, who was one of the drivers.
Cincinnati-based contractor First Student Inc. ordered 101 Saf-T-Liner C2 SCR-equipped buses from Thomas Built for the new school year. Employees drove 10 of the buses more than 500 miles to make sure that they arrived before drivers were assigned this year’s routes.
Hedgecock credited Thomas Built’s sales logistics manager, Sid Adams, with coming up with the inventive delivery solution. Ray Fattore, director of vehicles and parts procurement for First Student, was so impressed by the offer that he, too, volunteered to drive one of the school buses in the caravan.
In addition to Hedgecock and Adams, the Thomas Built drivers were Joe Craver, direct sales manager; Ronnie Cobb, government fleet service representative; Terry Darr, market analyst; Eddie Gregg, direct sales service representative; Ricky Myers, call center manager; Jed Routh, product planning manager; Jim Smolder, call center technician; and Ed Swain, Type C product manager. Each of the participants holds a current CDL.
“We sincerely appreciate Thomas Built Buses’ commitment to quality and customer service,” said Linda Burtwistle, president of First Student. “Their focus on personally transporting each school bus up the coast showcased a true partnership between our organizations and allowed us to begin training and practice runs well before school began.”
Hedgecock added that the trip was "an opportunity to show our commitment to our customers by pitching in while gaining some valuable first-hand experience with product performance. And it was a beautiful drive up I-81 through the Shenandoah Valley.”
The company conducted an unofficial fuel mileage test during the one-way trip, reporting that the new school buses averaged 9.05 miles per gallon.