MINNEAPOLIS — Veteran school bus operator Riley Williams has been honored posthumously as School Bus Fleet’s 2015 Contractor of the Year.
Williams, who was the president and owner of Woodstown, New Jersey-based school bus contracting company B.R. Williams Inc., died in June.
Carol Williams, Riley’s wife, and Chloe Williams, their daughter, accepted the award on his behalf at the National School Transportation Association (NSTA)’s awards ceremony in Minneapolis on Tuesday night.
In presenting the award, SBF General Manager James Blue pointed to Williams’ “passion for transporting students and for giving back to the community. He started in the business in 1975 with little knowledge about school buses, but he quickly learned the ropes and showed that he was dedicated to the safety of the students. He worked hard to build strong relationships with schools and to earn the trust of the community.”
Williams also quickly began growing the eight-bus company, which he and Carol had acquired from his parents, by gaining new contracts with neighboring school districts. The company now operates about 180 buses and serves more than a dozen districts in New Jersey.
For several decades, Williams shared his insights with colleagues in industry associations. He got involved with NSTA early in his career, and he served two terms as president of the New Jersey School Bus Owners Association. After that state association split into two groups, he was instrumental in reuniting them years later.
Williams was also recognized for his philanthropic efforts. For example, his company organized a Stuff the Bus campaign and collected 17 busloads of food and supplies for Hurricane Sandy victims in 2012. Williams himself drove one of the buses to deliver the aid to North Jersey.
After he turned over the reins of the company to his daughter Chloe in the late ’90s, Williams continued to stay involved by driving school buses part time. He said that this ground-level contact with the company’s drivers was important because it helped them feel comfortable with him.
An in-depth profile of Riley Williams and B.R. Williams Inc. will appear in the September issue of SBF.