HIGH POINT, N.C. — It was a big day for Thomas Built Buses.
On Wednesday, the school bus manufacturer hosted members of the media, including SBF, to unveil several new developments at the company.
First off, Thomas Built has again stepped up production levels and staffing. The move comes in response to large orders for its Saf-T-Liner C2 school bus products from the state of North Carolina and other customers, company officials said.
Fifty new line positions were posted in January, since the company's recall list was exhausted due to recent ramp-up activity and rehiring.
"We are delighted with the positive response of the state of North Carolina to our recent bid, and honored to be considered the preferred choice for the state's school districts," said Kelley Platt, president and CEO of Thomas Built Buses. "Customers are recognizing the value and quality of our products as they focus on the total cost of ownership in today's challenging environment. We look forward to welcoming our new employees to the Thomas Built family."
Field support expands
The company also announced that it has reorganized its field sales and service teams.
As part of the reorganization, a new fifth region has been created, reducing the number of dealers assigned to district sales and service managers, and allowing the managers to provide more attention for each dealership and those regions' customers.
“In 2007, Thomas Built Buses integrated its sales and service functions to enhance the entire customer experience,” said Ken Hedgecock, Thomas Built vice president of sales, service and marketing. “And now this newly expanded sales and service field organization will build on that foundation, allowing us to partner even more closely with our dealers and customers and provide more face time. There is no substitute for having the right people in the field, providing assistance.”
Staffing the five regional groups are:
Central: Randy Walker, sales; John Byerly, service
Midwest: Terry Darr, sales; Jeff Allgire, service
Northeast: Tommy Smith, sales; Steve Groat, service
Southeast: Mike Adams, sales; Ronnie Cobb, service
Western: Robert Kanter, sales; Rich Thornburg, service
Vance Nofziger will lead the dealer sales team, and Mitch Miller will lead the dealer service team. Cory Compton, government fleet sales manager, will focus specifically on sales to the federal government. Dee Dee Campbell will continue in her current role as manager of sales operations, and Joe Craver will continue in his current role of direct sales manager.
Also, Paul Start will lead a newly created market growth development team, responsible for developing effective, customer-centric programs. Sid Adams and Chris Blaha also will join the market growth team.
“We know that this is a challenging time for the pupil transportation industry from both budget and resource perspectives," Hedgecock said. "We want to arm our customers and dealers with the tools they need, and these changes are part of that commitment.”
Fuel economy test
In other news, company officials said that a recent independent, third-party test of a Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner C2 against an IC Bus CE Series "provided evidence that SCR [selective catalytic reduction] technology delivers 7 to 27 percent better fuel economy and, when factoring in the cost of diesel exhaust fluid [DEF], is the more cost-effective choice."
Thomas Built commissioned the fuel economy evaluation of a C2, powered by a Cummins ISB6.7 liter engine, and a CE Series, powered by a MaxxForce DT 7.6 liter engine. Both engines were 2010 diesel emissions compliant. The Thomas Built bus was equipped with SCR technology, and the IC Bus model was equipped with EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) technology.
Thomas Built officials said that the test results, provided by Bosch Automotive Proving Grounds in December, showed that the Thomas Built C2 "delivered a fuel economy advantage over the IC CE Series, regardless of the route (urban or highway) and transmission mode (economy or performance). The fuel economy advantage, after factoring in the cost of DEF, can add up to an annual operating cost savings of $603 to $1,417 per bus."
Test results are available at thomasbus.com/fueleconomy.
Finally, Thomas Built was named a 2011 Environmental Steward by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.