BUS BUSI­NESS

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 (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

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

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