Thomas Breaks Ground for New School Bus Plant

Fri October 11, 2002 - National Edition

Thomas Built Buses held its groundbreaking ceremony on Oct. 2 for its $39.7-million new school bus manufacturing plant in High Point, NC. When complete in early 2004, the plant will be the company’s state-of-the-art center for building conventional- style school buses.

"This is an important milestone both in Thomas’s history in High Point and our future in the school bus industry," said Rainer Schmueckle, Freightliner LLC president and CEO. "This new plant is just one of many exciting developments yet ahead of us as we continue to carry out our plans to extend our lead in the North American school bus industry."

Elected officials joined High Point Mayor Arnold Koonce and Thomas management in turning the first shovels of dirt to mark the official start of construction. A third grade class from Northwood Elementary School also participated in the ceremony by leading the audience of state and local elected officials, customers and Thomas management and production employees in the pledge of allegiance.

"We’re grateful for the enthusiastic support and partnership this community and the state of North Carolina continues to show Thomas," said John O’Leary, president of Thomas Built Buses. "Our new plant will have world- class manufacturing processes you can be proud of," he added, "and it will demonstrate the powerful result of combining the talents of North America’s leading school bus company with the global manufacturing, engineering and logistics resources of DaimlerChrysler. You can expect to see a manufacturing facility that will enable us to provide our customers even higher quality school buses, as well as provide the flexibility to build the exciting new products currently in development."

"The city of High Point couldn’t be prouder to break ground on yet another Thomas Built Buses plant," said Mayor Arnold Koonce. "This is a testament to our substantial commitment to partnering with major employers to support their expansion and creation of high-paying jobs in our community. Thomas has had a major economic impact in our region for well over three-quarters of a century, and we intend to support their growth for many more generations to come."

The new Thomas plant will generate about 178 new jobs in 2004. Construction of the 275,000-sq.-ft. plant begins immediately on the 90-acre site on Fairfield Road in High Point that is adjacent to the company’s current site for pre-delivery bus inspection and storage.

Founded in 1916 in High Point, Thomas’s corporate headquarters and manufacturing plants span more than 850,000 sq. ft. in High Point. The company is a leading employer in Guilford and Randolph counties, with 1,460 full-time employees.

Thomas Built Buses is a subsidiary of Freightliner LLC and is the manufacturer of school buses in North America, with a 34-percent share of the conventional school bus market.

Freightliner LLC, headquartered in Portland, OR, is a heavy- duty truck manufacturer in North America and a manufacturer of Class 3-7 vehicles. Freightliner produces and markets commercial vehicles under the Freightliner, Sterling, Western Star, American LaFrance, and Thomas Built Buses nameplates. Freightliner is a DaimlerChrysler Company.