Larry Leverton took a job driving school buses in 1957 after a layoff. Known for his dedication, he doesn’t plan to quit anytime soon.
Sonny Merryman Inc. of Evington, Va., was named Thomas Built's Dealer of the Year for the fifth time — the only dealer to have done so.
“At Thomas Built Buses, we believe in continuous improvement and innovation, two quality standards that Thomas Built employees and our dealers strive for every day,” President and CEO Kelley Platt said. “This year, we raised the standards for our dealers, and Sonny Merryman met that challenge, exemplifying continuous improvement and innovation exhibited through its commitment to customer satisfaction, exemplary training and strategic planning for the future.”
At the dealer event, President’s Club and President’s Club Platinum awards for dealership excellence were also presented to select dealers in recognition of achieving key performance indicators. A dealer must reach the President's Club Platinum level to qualify as the Dealer of the Year for its region. Here is the list of winners:
• Midwest Region: Kerlin Bus Sales & Leasing Inc., Silver Lake, Ind.
• Northeast Region: W.C. Cressey & Son Inc., Kennebunk, Maine
• Southeast Region: Sonny Merryman Inc., Evington, Va.
• Western Region: The Bus Centre, Acheson, Alberta
President's Club Platinum
• American Bus Sales & Service Inc., Annapolis, Md.
• BusWest, Carson, Calif.
• Carolina Thomas LLC, Greensboro, N.C.
• Interstate Transportation Equipment Inc., Hopkins, S.C.
• Kerlin Bus Sales & Leasing Inc., Silver Lake, Ind.
• Matthews Bus Inc. Florida, Orlando, Fla.
• Mid-South Bus Center Inc., Murfreesboro, Tenn.
• Nelson’s Bus Service Inc., Whitewater, Wis.
• Sonny Merryman Inc., Evington, Va.
• The Bus Centre, Acheson, Alberta
• Transportation South Inc., Pelham, Ala.
• W.C. Cressey & Son Inc., Kennebunk, Maine
• Autobus Thomas Inc., Drummondville, Quebec
• Lewis Bus Group Inc., Salt Lake City
• Matheny Motor Truck Co., Parkersburg, W.Va.
• Midwest Bus Sales Inc. KS/MO, Bonner Springs, Kan.
• Nesco Bus & Truck Sales Inc., Bay Shore, N.Y.
• Omaha Truck Center Inc., Omaha, Neb.
• Rohrer Bus Sales, Duncannon, Pa.
• Thomas Bus Gulf Coast GP Inc., Houston
Also at the dealer meeting, Thomas Built recognized its top dealer trainers of 2013.
Michael Stotler, Thomas Built's manager for service education and the Center for Education, presented the 2013 Thomas Dealer Trainer of the Year award to Dave Nelson of Nelson’s Bus Service in Whitewater, Wis.
Nelson, co-owner of Nelson's Bus Service and a member of the Thomas Built Train the Trainer program, was recognized for providing hands-on service maintenance and training to his customers.
The Train the Trainer program was developed to provide customers opportunities for local technician training. Thomas Built educates trainers across the country on how to provide customers with hands-on experiences and up-to-date technician information.
The program currently has 44 trainers, who conducted a total of 660 classes in 2013. Since its inception in 2009, more than 30,000 technicians have been trained through the program.
“The dealers who are involved in the Train the Trainer program are delivering in very big ways this year,” Stotler said. “Altogether, our trainers conducted approximately three classes every business day in 2013 — leaps and bounds above when we started the program in 2009. Dave Nelson is a great example of how powerful this training program can be. His commitment to training his customers and their technicians about Thomas Built Buses is a testament to his dedication.”
The winner of the Thomas Dealer Trainer of the Year award was selected from five regional winners:
• Midwest Region: Dave Nelson, Nelson’s Bus Service, Whitewater, Wis.
• Western Region: Trace Tolby, Auto Safety House, Phoenix
• Southeast Region: Ali Rampartab, Matthews Buses Florida, Orlando, Fla.
• Northeast Region: Phil Heller, Rohrer Bus, Duncannon, Pa.
• Central Region: Shawn Klein, Omaha Truck Center, Omaha, Neb.
The IC Bus parent company bestows its Diamond Supplier Award on a group that represents the top 2% of its supply base.
Mobile Wi-Fi provider SinglePoint Communications partners with Passengera, a Prague-based technology provider that delivers an onboard infotainment platform for transportation operators.
The Vulcan Series DVRs, cameras, and Pro8 software provide high-definition video with the ability to schedule or automatically download video clips.
A new state law aims to accelerate the process of getting a commercial driver’s license by enabling private vendors to conduct the knowledge and skills tests.
Auto Safety House, the Thomas Built Buses dealership for Arizona, will operate as a brand under the ownership of W.W. Williams, a provider of repair services and products.
Kiesha Shannon of Ohio pleads guilty to attacking her daughter’s bus driver and is sentenced to three years of probation. The judge says he had limited sentencing options, which is why he didn’t give her jail time.
The dealership’s event recognizes top pupil transportation providers, including the 2017 Alabama Love the Bus Driver of the Year.
NYAPT asks the state Legislature to continue the funding it is currently providing; add funding for pre-K students, bus monitors, and security; and increase support for the school bus driver training program.
The research by West Virginia University scientists sheds light on the sources and amount of greenhouse-gas methane that is emitted in the natural gas supply chain.
SynTec Seating Solutions is offering black back seat covers for its S3B and S3C school bus seats.
The new 10-year deal makes Duval County Public Schools the contractor’s biggest customer.
Mid-South Bus Center in Tennessee and Warner Bus Industries in Saskatchewan are the latest dealers to become certified in the collaborative effort between the school bus manufacturer and its dealers.
New legislation designed to support a growing number of homeless students leaves some transportation providers grappling with logistics and costs. More training and inter-staff communication are recommended.
The state acquires 26 Blue Bird propane buses as part of its efforts to update its aging fleet.