High Point, N.C. - In 1916, with $6,700 of borrowed money, Perley A.

Thomas launched a little manufacturing business in High Point, N.C.

Today that business, Thomas Built Buses, recognized its 90th anniversary. To mark the occasion, a celebration was held for all employees at the company's plants in High Point, N.C.

Since its founding, the company has successfully evolved from building streetcars to school buses and has become the leading manufacturer of school buses in North America, with more than one-third of the market.

"Ninety years ago, our company was founded with a focus on design innovation, safety and quality manufacturing," said John O'Leary, president and CEO of Thomas Built Buses. "Those same principles continue to guide our company today."

In the beginning, the company built and renovated streetcars. As motorized vehicles began to make streetcars obsolete, the company switched to manufacturing school buses in 1936. In 1972 the company name was changed from Perley A. Thomas Car Works to Thomas Built Buses. In

1998 Thomas Built was acquired by Freightliner LLC, a unit of DaimlerChrysler.

Today Thomas Built Buses manufactures a variety of bus products, from Type C conventional school buses to Type D transit-style buses and small Type A activity buses. The company produces more than 15,000 units annually and employs more than 1,600. There are now more than 65 independently owned Thomas Built dealers throughout North America.

"I have been privileged to know members of the Thomas family and many of their employees all my life," said Floyd Merryman, president of Sonny Merryman Inc., the Thomas Built dealer for the state of Virginia, a second generation Thomas Built dealership. "Since day one, Thomas has been an innovative company and I feel confident that I am helping to put the best in cutting edge, quality transportation on the roads."

As part of its 90th anniversary celebration, Thomas Built sponsored a nationwide children's essay contest and hosted an anniversary celebration at the National Association of Pupil Transportation trade show in Kansas City, Mo., Nov. 5-9.

Thomas Built Buses ( is a subsidiary of Freightliner LLC, the largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America and a leading manufacturer of class 3-8 vehicles. Freightliner LLC produces and markets commercial vehicles under the Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star and Thomas Built Buses nameplates. Freightliner is a company of DaimlerChrysler, the world's largest commercial vehicle manufacturer.

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