Thomas Built Buses: Helping to Sustain the North Carolina Economy One School Bus at a Time

Company supports local suppliers, creates jobs and contributes to the community

High Point, N.C. – As a leading provider of school buses with a 95-year manufacturing history in N.C., it’s not surprising that most people in the Carolinas think of Thomas Built Buses when they see those iconic yellow school buses. In the Carolinas, each Thomas Built school bus represents more than safe, reliable access to education, it represents another good manufacturing job.

The company recently recalled 125 production line workers to rejoin the workforce by February 2012. As announced on December 16, 2011, the increase in production capacity and hiring comes in response to a strong order backlog and company expectations for continued growth in early 2012.

“We are extremely pleased to be ramping up production and making these hires," said Kelley Platt, president and CEO of Thomas Built Buses. “Even in a tough economy, school districts must provide quality, reliable transportation for students. We are thrilled that the state of North Carolina recognized the value of Thomas Built school buses and that we won a spot on its 2012 supplier sheet. As the year progresses and orders are made, we hope that N.C. school bus professionals will choose high-quality, locally built buses that aim to provide them with the best possible operational cost savings during the life of the vehicle.”

“It is very refreshing to be able to call back our laid off brothers and sisters and give them good news,” said John Crawford, president of the United Auto Workers Local 5287. “Together, the company and the union have been working very hard to build an affordable, quality product while at the same time providing good paying jobs with great benefits. More local jobs put more money back into the community and helps to support small businesses in the area.” Crawford added, ”Beyond the work we do, it’s exciting to see our kids on our buses on North Carolina roads.”

The sale of 12 Thomas Built buses, on average, provides a job for one person for one year, and the sale of 1,000 buses provides employment for 83 people for a year.

“In addition to the local employment we provide, there is a ripple effect throughout the Carolinas with every bus we build,” said Platt. “We buy materials and parts from local suppliers, which employ additional Carolinians. And when we invest in our facilities, like our newest plant built in 2003 and our more than $10 million dollar remodel of two other plants in 2007 and 2008, a large percentage of those funds are funneled directly into the local economy through purchased materials, contracted labor and taxes.”

At the same time, those actions and investments reaffirm the company’s commitment to the community.

Local Economic Develop Corporations (EDC) agree. Bonnie Renfro, President of the Randolph County EDC said, “The impact of Thomas Built Buses goes far beyond the hundreds of jobs the company provides. In my county alone, Thomas Built has a substantial supply chain of small- to mid-sized companies that supply harnesses, safety arms, coatings, seats, detailing and transportation services.”

Loren Hill, president of the High Point EDC, added: “Thomas Built is more than a major regional employer and taxpayer. It is a key contributor to the community through a wide-range of charitable and business involvement. The company’s long-term success in High Point, the region and the state has made it a beacon to companies evaluating a move to the area.”

In fact Thomas Built Buses utilizes more than 100 suppliers in North and South Carolina and, on average, $28,000 of the purchase price of each Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner® C2 bus remains in the Carolinas.

Terri Helmlinger Ratcliff, executive director of North Carolina State University’s Industrial Extension Service, said, “Using North Carolina products to build more North Carolina products is a winning combination that will mean even more opportunities for North Carolinians.”

According to the Industrial Extension Service, manufacturing in North Carolina employs 15.1 percent of the total workforce, providing above-average-wage jobs to more than 500,000 people. At 18.2 percent, manufacturing leads all industry sectors in North Carolina’s gross domestic product.

Thomas Built Buses and its parent company, Daimler Trucks North America, operates manufacturing facilities in multiple locations in North and South Carolina. Thomas Built Buses produces between 10,000 and 15,000 buses annually at its five North Carolina facilities.

About Thomas Built Buses

Founded in 1916, Thomas Built Buses is a leading manufacturer of school buses in North America. Since the first Thomas Built bus rolled off the assembly line, the company has been committed to delivering the smartest and most innovative buses in North America. Learn more at or at

Thomas Built Buses, Inc., headquartered in High Point, N.C., is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, the largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America and a leading manufacturer of class 4-8 vehicles. Daimler Trucks North America produces and markets commercial vehicles under the Freightliner, Western Star and Thomas Built Buses nameplates. Daimler Trucks North America is a Daimler company.

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