Thomas Built Buses Invests in 1,500-Ton Press


Procurement and decision-making process part of continuous improvement plan

High Point, N.C. – May 16, 2013 – After more than a year of planning, training and negotiations, Thomas Built Buses is churning out its own parts and blanks on a new 1,500-ton press. Located in their High Point plant, the press is a key milestone in its manufacturing and corporate growth.

The new press is used for making parts including roof and floor sheets for the new C2 as well as exterior panels and structural supports such as roof bows.

“Quite a step up from our older 250-ton press, this new piece of machinery has a bed size of 84 inches by 159 inches and carries around 1,800 gallons of hydraulic fluid,” explains Tim Turner, Manufacturing Engineer for Thomas Built Buses. “It sits 12 feet beneath the ground and extends an additional 22 feet above the manufacturing floor. It is definitely something that you have to see.”
The press purchase from Pacific Press in Mt. Carmel, Illinois originated in early March of 2012 for around $2 million. After installation, it began operating at Thomas Built Buses in January 2013. It is now operating full days and will soon begin production in the evenings as well.

Purchased to decrease standby and delivery time, increase material quality, increase manufacturing flexibility and better control manufacturing costs, the press has exceeded all expectations and is even bringing Thomas Built Buses employees together.

“The process for procurement was very people-driven,” says Mark Ward, Fabrications Manager. “We didn’t just want to increase quality and productivity; we also wanted to create new jobs and make the overall manufacturing process more efficient for everyone.”

A team of on-the-floor operators, along with management, worked on this acquisition from the very beginning. Together as a team, they decided what to purchase and where it would be placed to enable greatest workflow efficiencies and safety.

“This was a very complex project to manage, but a project that was definitely doable through the help and involvement of the employees on the shop floor," explains Turner.

“It was always a team effort with employees involved every step of the way,” says Kelley Platt, CEO of Thomas Built Buses. “We at Thomas Built Buses are moving from a command-and-control culture to one where we harness our people’s thoughts to really elevate Thomas Built Buses. We strive for continuous improvement, and the acquisition of this press was just another example of how our employees share decision-making, innovations and new techniques with leadership.”

The 1,500-ton press enabled Thomas Built to hire four direct staff positions in addition to supplemental staff to assist with incoming and outgoing processes.

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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