Thomas Built Buses employees spent the weekend of Aug. 12-13 driving 10 school buses, and a van for the return trip, from High Point, N.C., to Trenton, N.J., to ensure on-time delivery of a recent order. “Third-party driveaway companies are in high demand this time of year, and weren’t available to deliver the school buses on time, so we decided to do it ourselves,” says Ken Hedgecock, Thomas Built Buses vice president of sales, marketing and service, who was one of the drivers.
Cincinnati-based First Student Inc., the largest provider of student transportation services in North America, ordered 101 Saf-T-Liner C2 SCR-equipped Thomas Built buses for the new school year. Thomas Built employees drove 10 of the vehicles designated for school bus application more than 500 miles to ensure the buses arrived before drivers were assigned this year’s routes.
Hedgecock credits Thomas Built’s sales logistics manager Sid Adams with coming up with the delivery solution. Ray Fattore, director of vehicles and parts procurement for First Student, volunteered to drive one of the school buses in the caravan. In addition to Hedgecock and Adams, the Thomas Built drivers included Joe Craver, direct sales manager; Ronnie Cobb, government fleet service representative; Terry Darr, market analyst; Eddie Gregg, direct sales service representative; Ricky Myers, call center manager; Jed Routh, product planning manager; Jim Smolder, call center technician; and Ed Swain, Type C product manager. Each of the participants holds a current CDL.
“We sincerely appreciate Thomas Built Buses’ commitment to quality and customer service,” says Linda Burtwistle, First Student president. “Their focus on personally transporting each school bus up the coast showcased a true partnership between our organizations and allowed us to begin training and practice runs well before school began.”
The company conducted an unofficial fuel mileage test during the one-way trip, reporting that the new school buses averaged 9.05 miles per gallon. “It was an opportunity to show our commitment to our customers by pitching in while gaining some valuable firsthand experience with product performance,” says Hedgecock.