JOLIET, Ill. — North America Central School Bus Holding Co. LLC is undergoing changes to its leadership team after one executive has left the company and another plans to retire.

Effective Jan. 1, 2013, Steve Hemmerlein will join the company as the CEO; current CEO and founder Bruce Barr plans to retire.

Effective immediately, H. Kevin Mest will serve as the interim CEO until Jan. 1. Barr will serve as a consultant to the company until Jan. 1 to assist with a smooth management transition.  

Mest will also assume the position of chief operating officer, replacing Ron Howard, who left the company to pursue other interests.  

The new team also includes Patrick Earley as chief financial officer. Officials said the team will be responsible for leading North America Central School Bus as the fifth largest student transportation provider in the industry.

“We are pleased to have both Steve and Kevin on board as we continue to expand our business across the country,” said Robert Dove, chairman of the board of directors. “Each has a proven track record of strategic leadership with a strong focus on safety and customer service. Their combined experience and expertise will help us continue to grow and partner with the communities that we serve."

Dove also thanked Barr for his contribution to the company and his dedication to safety and excellent customer service.

“After over 30 years in the student transportation industry, I have decided to retire to spend more time with my family and other business interests,” Barr said. “I am very proud of the company that I founded and built. Carlyle has been an excellent business partner, and I wish Steve, Kevin and Pat all the best with the future management of the company.”

Hemmerlein will join the company with 20 years of experience in the student transportation industry. Most recently, he was senior vice president at First Student, where he was responsible for the Midwest and Southern regions. Previously, at Laidlaw, Hemmerlein held various roles from contract manager to senior vice president, where he was responsible for its operations in the Midwest and West regions.  

Mest joined the company in May as the regional operations manager for its Southern region in St. Louis with over 25 years of experience in the industry. He started with Laidlaw as the regional vice president of operations for the Northwest region. 

North America Central School Bus Holding Co. LLC comprises operating units doing business as Illinois Central School Bus, Missouri Central School Bus, Kansas Central School Bus, Indiana Central School Bus, Minnesota Central School Bus, Wisconsin Central School Bus and Massachusetts Central School Bus.

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