Dealer Spotlight: Brightbill Body Works
Dealer: Brightbill Body Works
Interviewee: Mason Hemphill
Title: Sales Manager
School district: East Stroudsburg Area School District, Pennsylvania
Q. Was the school district already running Blue Bird buses?
A. No. They were doing a buy-back program with IC for over 30 years and had never bought Blue Bird buses.
Q. How did you introduce the Blue Bird propane product to them?
A. Previously, I had shown our propane demo bus to ESASD in which they expressed some interest. I knew they were on a buy back, but I didn’t want to ignore them. Because, if there was a chance, they might change. The customer told me to stay in touch. I continued to talk with them and let them know that contractors and a neighboring district, Pocono Mountain School District, were investing in propane and using our buses. At my suggestion, ESASD decided to do a two-week trial. They arranged for our bus along with two competitors’ buses to be tested on routes in their area. After the two-week trial, the drivers and mechanics were invited to vote based on performance, comfort and other factors — and Blue Bird won unanimously. We then visited the neighboring district and explored more about the buses and that district’s experiences.
ESASD decided to offer a bid and initially awarded us 42 buses. We invited their staff to visit ROUSH CleanTech, and understand more about the product and process.
Q. Did the tour of ROUSH CleanTech help with the decision?
A. Absolutely. The trip to ROUSH CleanTech solidified their decision for the first 42 buses and then the remainder of the orders. The customers really enjoyed the tour and were impressed by the trip to Michigan.
While on the tour, ESASD met other customers that were using the product. They were also able to tour the Ford plant. Our relationship has only continued to get better and it gave us time to really parlay the product to them.
Q. What other tactics did you use to further persuade them to move away from IC?
A. With the help of Jenna Van Harpen in the Blue Bird Alternative Fuel division, we provided a TCO calculation for the ESASD staff. Jenna assisted me and came out to show it to the board. Prior to the award, David Fink also assisted me with pricing and timeline requests. We provided lots of information about existing buses in the state as references. We also assisted the customer with available grants in our area — something our competitor completely ignored.
It was a true team effort and I had lots of help from Blue Bird and ROUSH CleanTech. Our resources dwarfed the competition. We showed ESASD that there would be considerable savings over 10 years with propane buses over buy-back diesel buses. My local ROUSH CleanTech rep, Derek Whaley, was also an indispensable resource and made several trips with me to visit East Stroudsburg.
Q. So far, how many Blue Bird Vision propane buses has the school district purchased?
A. ESASD has purchased 101 and have 23 more on order. This will complete their fleet and free them from diesel completely.
Q. What advice would you have for other dealers?
A. Hang in there and continue to highlight the cleanliness of the engine along with the lower maintenance costs over diesel. Going after the 30-plus year buy back was a daunting task at first, but we knew that interest was there and they were looking for a better solution. This customer is now an integral part of my sales to future customers and eagerly speaks to prospects. You can’t get a better reference than that!