Mike Stotler  -

Mike Stotler

Mario DiFoggio remembered how green he was when he entered the school bus industry and started working at Thomas Built Buses. Then he met Mike Stotler.

“In true ‘Mikey’ fashion, as the teacher and expert that he was, he guided me through the many, many nuances of our industry,” said DiFoggio, manager of direct sales and marketing for Thomas Built Buses. “His incredible sense of humor and calm demeanor in the face of stress was certainly an attribute we all wish we had.”

Stotler, customer support manager at Thomas Built, died on Saturday, Aug. 20. He was 50. A Florida native, he was born in Orlando on April 10, 1972, to Richard and Beth Stotler. He had a successful career the past 15 years at Thomas Built, where he connected with customers and co-workers alike. He enjoyed golfing and race cars. He loved traveling the world with his wife, Laura.

“Mike’s calm demeanor, sense of servant leadership and witty sense of humor will be sorely missed,” said Daoud Chaaya, Thomas Built’s vice president of sales, aftermarket and marketing. “A fierce advocate for the customer, a peer who everyone saw as a mentor and a friend and a great family man. I will miss my daily engagements with Mike and appreciate all that he has done to welcome me at Thomas Built Buses.”

Ali Rampartab, trainer and technical support manager for Matthews Bus Alliance in Florida, first met Stotler 12 years ago in Greensboro, N.C., for a “Train the Trainer” event.

“I could call on Mike any time, day or night, (and) Mike would respond to me,” Rampartab said. “Whether it’s something to do with training, customer concerns, or technical issues, Mike always responded with ‘Hey, Mr. Ali, how’s Florida treating you?’”

Buddy Miller of Interstate Transportation in South Carolina also met Stotler at a “Train the Trainer” event. Said Miller: “He has always been one of my go-to people at Thomas if I needed anything. I know the Thomas Built family, nationwide, is in mourning from this tragic and untimely loss. Mike will be missed by all he touched.”

Dave Nelson of Nelson’s Bus Service in Whitewater, Wisc., described news of Stotler’s passing as “a great shock.”

“I considered Mike both a co-worker and a friend,” Nelson said. “He did great things for the Thomas training program in his 10 years at the helm. When he made the transition to customer support manager, he brought a service-based, common-sense approach to that department as well.”

Stotler is survived by his wife, Laura; daughter and son-in-law Alicia and Taylor Utrecht; daughter and son-in-law Amanda and Chris Rife; daughter and son-in-law Angela and Danival Saeed; daughter and son-in-law Noelle and Chris Walton; daughter and son-in-law Alexa and Justin White; daughter and son-in-law Leah and Jacob Adams; father Richard and mother-in-law Marietta Ferrari; and several grandchildren.

The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, mourners make contributions in Stotler’s memory to the MDS Foundation, 4573 South Broad St., Ste. 150, Yardville, N.J., or online at this link: www.mds-foundation.org/donate/. Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of cancers in which immature blood cells in the bone marrow do not mature or become healthy blood cells.

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