ABC took time out at the Australian Bus + Coach Show in Sydney to talk to a group of bus industry legends about how they got their start and what makes the industry tick
ABC takesk time out at the Australian Bus + Coach Show in Sydney to talk to a group of bus industry legends about how they got their start and what makes the industry tick
More than 1500 old London Transport buses have been exported to Sri Lanka over the last 30 to 50 years, and a number have been converted to operate on busy rail lines
About 140 bus and coach industry identities attended the BusVic Women on Board seminar and luncheon held in Melbourne late last year
Experience counts for a lot in the bus and coach industry, so we relished the chance to chat with some fellows who have been in the game for more than half a century.
Athol McKinnon of Bus and Coach Sales Australasia ( BCSA) says he started at A.B Denning and Co, straight out of school, way back in November 1961.
“I did my ve-year apprenticeship as a body builder, building all the old Denning 1.0 coaches,” he says.
“I just grew up with the industry. Allan Denning and I left in 1975 at a
time when the industry was seeing a lot of mergers and buyouts.
“The wheels went round and Kevin Johnson and I formed a company called MotorCoach Australia and built the MCAs around 1990.
“Then I went coach driving for ve years and founded Australian Autobus – with Kevin again.” Rodd Hood and McKinnon now run BCSA as distributors for the Bonluck product.
Eddie Furmanczyk of Thermo King Bus Australia says he got his start with Nippon Denso, a Japanese company doing bus air- conditioning.
After 15 years he was ‘ headhunted’ for a role at Coachair, and has now been with Thermo King for the last 15 years.
John Dernaj of MAN started with the company in 1967 as a diesel mechanic technician.
“I then moved to Newcastle in the early 1970s to be a part of truck and bus manufacturing there,” he says.
He managed the pre- delivery section of all vehicles in the mid-1970s. Towards the end of the ‘ 70s he was working on driver acclimatisation.
“I went to Auckland to manage and look after MAN New Zealand, and did that for 12 years until moving back to Melbourne in 1991 to head up the assembly manager role for trucks and buses,” Dernaj explains.
“I was in charge of national bus sales up to 2005. From 2007 onwards I’ve been national sales manager for the southern region – South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria.”
BCSA representative Hood started out in 1978 as a diesel mechanic for Detroit Diesel engines in Sydney.
“From there Denning used a lot of Detroit engines, so they offered me a job in 1985,” he says. “In 1999 I went to work for a major NSW bus operator for about three years.
“Now I deal in second-hand buses and coaches as Rodd Hood’s Bus and Coach Sales. Athol and I joined forces as Bus and Coach Sales Australasia around 2005.”
The industry stalwarts agree in their assessment of the bus industry still having a sense of family and fair play.
“We’re all mates,” Hood says. “We are competitors, but we are friendly and will have a drink. There’s no animosity, but there is respect and that’s what I love about the bus industry.”
“We are dealing with people now who have stayed loyal for three or four generations. The grandfather, the father and the grandson.”
The major changes in the electronic equipment such as air- conditioning and communications has moved up a lot over the years, according to these fellows.
“We need some support from the government, we have the technology to roll out fully electric bus eets in Australia,” McKinnon says.
“We need to get older vehicles off the road and invest in the future.
“Look at all the brands you have now. There are six manufacturers here in Australia, 10-15 years ago there were at least a dozen, but that’s what’s happening to the bus industry.”
We are competitors, but we are friendly
With more than half a century of industry experience, these characters know a thing or two about buses