See all our School Bus Fleet Trailblazers of 2023 in this article.
Works for: Logan Bus Co. Inc. and Affiliates
Role: Executive Vice President
Describe a day in your professional life.
Muirhead: I think this is truly the reason I stayed in this industry. Every day is different for me. Of course, I have my routine, checking in with operations, finance, safety; cleaning up my inbox, and working on outstanding projects. But how I have found the beauty in my job is that every day is truly distinctly different. One day may be very labor focused working on CBA’s or driver recruitment strategies, then the next I will be working on charging infrastructure and site feasibility studies for ESB’s, then the next day I may be working on contract extension agreements with municipalities, then the next day I may be working on strategic planning for risk management best practices. I enjoy what I do so much because there are so many “tentacles” in a school bus business and I am passionate about engaging with them all.
What brought you to the student transportation industry?
Muirhead: I started as an intern in college as I prepared to take the LSAT’s and go to law school. That inevitably did not happen and simultaneously I was enjoying what I was doing. The family that I am employed by (the Logan’s) have given me everything and they said since you are enjoying working here try to figure out what you want to do long term if you wish. What I felt was a void in the industry at a younger age, I believe, was that there was a need to bridge the gap between small business owners and the politics and business of the industry. These privately owned school bus companies were marvels, built off the backs of hardworking families that were willing to take risks and eventually grow super successful, large businesses in a very small industry. I wanted to be a part of growing that business, growing that industry, and be seen as an essential service. Because that is exactly what school transportation services is, make no mistake, we are an essential service. I would be remiss not to mention that what brought and kept me in the school bus industry was the ownership who gave me the backing and recognition to keep pushing the envelope. That vote of confidence lit a passionate fire in me 13 years ago and has never fizzled.
What’s something critical that you’ve learned during your time in the student transportation industry?
Muirhead: I have a facetious saying but I believe it is true: “The operation runs the show.” Sure, it is very fun negotiating with unions and NYC on contracts. Sure, it’s great to be in Albany advocating for our industry during COVID and regarding ESB funding. No matter what big business you are working on, you have to remember that your operation has to run and you have to get children to school safely and efficiently every day. Data is there to be used as a tool to make informed strategic decisions, not run a business. Your customers see your buses on the road and they only care about whether they are safe and on time (and clean!). You must always live and breathe the operation. You must always have that penchant for customer service that is the competitive advantage that sets you apart from your competition. You must have a respectful workplace, a place that people are proud of and want to come and work. The operation is the foundation you build the business on top of.
What’s your advice for someone considering a career in this industry?
Muirhead: Wait until the driver shortage is over. I KID! I think people need to understand that there are a multitude of careers in this industry. The school bus industry may be very narrow, but it runs miles deep. My one piece of advice is whatever career someone does decide to go into…whether it is operations, accounting, risk management, technology, etc., learn the other aspects of the business/operation as well! Spend some weeks/months in dispatch and learn how the buses get out in the A.M./P.M. Spend time in the maintenance shop and learn about the running repairs and DOT inspections. Spend some time with the risk management department and figure out driver behavior and accident occurrences. Spend some time with HR and learn what attracts and detracts employees. Do not think like jack of all trades, master of none, be a jack of all trades, master of all!
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