Metro Magazine

AUG 2014

Magazine serving the bus and rail transit & motorcoach operations since 1904

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26 < m ETRO m AGAZINE AUGUST 2014 In addition to Sonoma County Transit, local bus operators Santa Rosa City- Bus and Petaluma Transit, are working with SMART to ensure that coordinated schedules and fare policies are in place prior to startup, Albee says. SONOMA COUNTY TRANSIT Allied Specialty Vehicles, the parent company of ElDorado National-California, which was acquired from Thor Industries in October 2013, comprises one of several bus brands that now make up the ASV Bus Division — ElDorado National-California; Champion Bus; General Coach; Federal Coach; Goshen Coach; ElDorado National-Kansas; ElDorado Mobility; Krystal and Collins Bus. We spoke with ASV Bus Division President/CEO Kent Tyler to find out the strategy for the new companies. How does the acquisition of the bus brands impact ASV? Tyler: These are all very good iconic brands in the commercial bus market, and we believe, without exception, all of them have tremendous opportunity to grow and to be even better. Our goal as a business is to really invest in these businesses. We are certainly in it for the long haul. We've owned the companies for about eight months now, so we're still in the evaluation phase in lot of areas and trying to understand where our biggest opportunities are for growth. What is your strategy for the new bus division? Our core values as a company include people, product and process. Any time we acquire a business, we look for any opportunity for operational excellence within that business. Lean manufacturing gives us those opportunities to establish goals and objectives for the business and empowering the employees to find a way to make those goals and objectives possible. So, when we talk about investment, we are talking about investing in people. I think that's a key component to any of the businesses we own. We really want to treat people in the highest regard. At the end of the day, it's about taking care of your employees, because they are the ones in the trenches building the products. The second thing would be product. In these businesses you've got to listen to the customer. Whether it's a contract, or it's a municipality; they want a bus that fits their specific needs for their specific issues. We have to make sure that we are doing everything we can to give the customer what he or she needs for their routes. The third thing is process. What I mean by this is the process of buying a bus. It can be difficult enough in a number of ways, so it's important that we have strong dealers throughout all of our markets to make that process as easy as possible. From assisting them with spec writing, new technologies, new innovations to things that differentiate our product from our competitor, we really rely on our dealers. One thing that I've learned over the years is, you can have the greatest product in the world, but if you don't have a strong dealer organization representing your product, you are always going to struggle. We're very fortunate to have strong, high-quality dealers representing our products. Discuss any ASV-specific training for employees. Part of our operational excellence initiatives that we implement at all of our facilities is the ASV production system. It's very similar in concept to the Toyota production system. It's a formal process in which all employees have the ability to be bronze-, silver- and platinum-certified. The ASV production system certification is just a way for us to put our money where our mouth is and instill training within our employees at all levels of the organization. It gives them the tools and training they need to perform their job easier. If you came to one of our facilities you'd see facilities that are extremely clean, organized, well lit, with lots of visual management throughout. These are things that we believe are hallmarks to making the highest quality product possible. I think that's very important because that's what our customers in these industries expect. They expect a bus to be delivered — whoever the manufacturer is — and be able to put that bus in service the next day. That's certainly our goal that we strive for throughout all of our businesses. Any plans for the new brands with regard to new products going forward? We like to be aggressive in our businesses and in our markets in which we compete, and I certainly would expect us to be very aggressive with these businesses. But at the same time, we are going to make sure we are listening to our customers and our dealers in making the right decisions when it comes to new product development. Q&A: Allied Specialty Vehicle Bus Division Chief "We expect that during SMART's frst year of operation, ongoing service ad- justments will be made to ensure good bus/rail coordination," he adds. In addition to the rail service, 2016 will also see the local introduction of the Bay Area's Clipper Card. Te Clipper Card is a program of the Metropolitan Trans- portation Commission and ofers a one- pass fare payment option for the region's multimodal transit systems, including bus, ferry and rail operators. Craig Hacker/Craig Hacker Photography, Wichita.Kan.

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