Yearly Archives: 2007

Custom Coaches appoints new Sales Manager for Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania.

Geoff Ross might be new to the State Sales Manager role at Custom Coaches, but he’s certainly not new to the bus industry, with over 40 years experience with the Adelaide based Custom Coaches.

Replacing the long serving Graham Weekley, Geoff has been appointed State Sales Manager Victoria, South Australia & Tasmania effective June 2007. To keep a close eye on production he will be based at the Adelaide plant and will travel to Victoria and Tasmania on a regular basis.

“Our customers are very important, and spending time with them and understanding their needs is critical. I’ve been building buses since 1966, and I have a lot to offer our clients”, said Geoff.

Geoff joins Custom Coaches sales team at a very exciting time. The Adelaide plant will produce over 200 buses this year, as will the Sydney plant, while the Gold Coast will build 50 buses. Custom Coaches is expanding to meet the growing market and this will provide Geoff and his customers plenty of opportunities.

Geoff is married to Margaret and they have two adult children. He started as an apprentice panel beater with Freighter Industries in 1966 and went on to become Production & Manufacturing Manager for 19 years and more recently Geoff has been managing Custom Care in Adelaide. Throughout this period Geoff has been instrumental in the development of the High Deck and other coaches, the O-Bahn contract, along with building some 6000 buses. He has a unique perspective through his experience of building new buses, repairing old buses and managing a plant, plus he hits a fine golf drive.

Geoff will join the Custom Coaches sales team of Chris Jones (Qld & Nth NSW), Norm Stott (NSW), Nigel Wilson (Contracts Mgr) and Stephen Jackson (National Manager).

Its stage 2 at Custom Coaches!

What was Stage 1?
Custom Coaches launched Stage 1 of their bus production program in June 2006. The traditional “Static” line was replaced with a “Dynamic” production line. The effect of this change was faster build cycles, (more reliable delivery times for the bus operators), less buses on line and improved quality of the finished bus.

Customs relocated their traditional Sydney production to a new production facility and this allowed the introduction of the Dynamic line. The Adelaide plant was already ideally suited to a Dynamic line being the biggest undercover bus plant in Australia. The Sydney & Adelaide plants were divided into 15 production stations and each bus is allocated certain hours per station. “This production structure allowed us to balance the line with the correct staff, skills, materials, and equipment at each station. Each station became a business center with team leaders and clear responsibilities”, John Goode the National Production & Engineering Manager of Custom Coaches advised, “every employee knows each bus is part of the production cycle and it must move to the next station at exactly the right time”.

The Gold Coast plant also developed the Dynamic line, but has a unique structure because of its size (60 buses per year) and its contract with Brisbane City Council to produce 30 articulated MAN CNG powered buses.

Stage 2 is taking Custom Coaches to a new level of manufacturing. The Australian bus market has grown 35% over the last 3 years. Bus patronage has also grown in all states. Increased fuel prices, increased road tolls, continued road congestion, reduced bus fares, bus contract reforms (NSW) have all contributed to the growth of patronage and the growth of bus sales.

For Custom Coaches this means increasing bus production from 230 in 2004 to 450 in 2007. “We are still using the same 15 stations we started with, but we are using them smarter”, said John Goode. John and his production team are introducing two shifts to the Sydney and Adelaide plants. So each bus will be constructed for 18 hours per day instead of the standard single shift of 8 to 10 hours per day (depending on overtime). “This will allow us to reduce the build cycle time per station which is effectively 33% reduction in build time”, John added.

The benefit of double shifting for Custom Coaches is utilizing the same factory space, equipment, and tools and achieving a much higher production output. The only real increase in costs is the labour, the fixed manufacturing costs remain the same.
Photo of CC Adelaide – Custom  Coaches Adelaide plant, Australia’s largest undercover bus manufacturing plant.

This reduced cycle time allows Custom Coaches to effectively increase production capacity to 450 buses in 2007. The additional capacity is a positive move for Custom Coaches. The Australian market is looking for more buses, and they want them quickly, and on time. Its great to see the Australian bus manufacturers growing to meet Australian market demands. The production of 450 buses at Custom Coaches is unprecedented, and there is still more capacity available should the market demand. With this plan, capacity could increase to 600.

The Stage 2 production plan requires the employment of an additional 100 staff at the Adelaide and Sydney plants. Custom Coaches are using various methods to increase staff levels. Recently one of the TV stations featured the Adelaide plant on the 6pm news, describing the increased staffing levels, and Customs Adelaide were inundated with prospective staff. It was very welcome news in Adelaide since GMH & Mitsubishi have shed staff over the last few years.

Stage 2 of our production plan is a welcome development for Custom Coaches. “We are utilizing our existing infrastructure, improving our cycle times, increasing our bus volumes and effectively decreasing the cost per bus.  John Goode and his team have achieved a fantastic result, and we have more to do”, according to Mark Burgess, CEO of Custom Coaches. “The whole national team at Customs from purchasing, engineering, research & development, finance, aftermarket, and our suppliers have had to change to achieve Stage 2. It puts Custom Coaches in a great position to meet the increased demands of the Australian customers”, Mark added.

Year of the Product Range, 2007

The recent delivery of the CB60 Evo II Artic to Forest Coach Lines marks a new stage in product delivery for Custom Coaches.

2007 sees further developments to the body builder’s already extensive range of products and service offerings.

At the delivery of the latest CB60 Evo II artic, Custom Coaches’ Marketing Director, Stephen Jackson, spoke of the positive times ahead.

“2007 looks promising for the NSW industry. We are committed to providing a comprehensive range of vehicles and services that support the growing operational certainty the reform processes are bringing to NSW”, Jackson stated.

We have been working hard to improve production processes, with the new dynamic line at our Smithfield plant bringing substantial improvements to product quality and output.

Led by Custom Coaches’ new National Production Manager, John Goode, the dynamic line encompasses new manufacturing methods, faster build times and enhanced production quality. In fact the Smithfield plant has recently increased production output by 25% providing a substantial increase in capacity for the NSW market.

The range

Custom Coaches is proud to offer the NSW industry the most comprehensive vehicle range available. From mass transit solutions, such as the new CB60 Evo II, to the recently introduced SB30 midi school bus, Custom Coaches provides unrivalled diversity for today’s bus operator.

Custom Coaches’ 2007 vehicle range incorporates the following DDA compliant vehicles:

  • CB60 Evo II low floor rigid and artic;
  • CB50 HCL low floor with luggage bins;
  • CB30 low floor midi; and
  • CB20 low floor mini.

School vehicles include:

  • SB40 flat screen model;
  • SB400 luxury series; and
  • SB30 Midi.

In addition to their extensive product line, it is pertinent to note that the team at Custom Coaches build with both stainless and galvanised steel on a long list of chassis, including MAN, Scania, Volvo, Daimler-Chrysler, Asia Motors, Iveco, Denning and Hino, both for diesel and CNG applications.

The CB60 Evo II is the most recent addition to the product range, with the Volvo artic operated by Forest Coach Lines the latest example. The Evo II carries over all of the favoured design features of its predecessor, including outstanding driver visibility, plus vehicle serviceability, with hinged and removable panels inside and out. Finished in a contemporary design, the Evo II brings improved finish and functionality, with more passenger space, enhanced interior ducting and lighting, new lightweight components and practical rear section.

Also in the 2007 line-up is the CB50 HCL. It’s an innovative solution, providing operators with a high capacity DDA compliant wheelchair accessible route bus, with underfloor luggage capacity for charter work.

“Awarded Bus of the show in 2004, the CB50 HCL has proved popular amongst our regional operators requiring a flexible solution for their town, school and charter requirements”, Jackson added.

Going down in size, but not substance is Custom Coaches low floor CB30 midibus, providing wheelchair accessible transport in an attractive and cost effective package.

Jackson stated that the real beauty of the CB30 lies in its versatility and practicality. “While offering all the features of a big bus, the midi stands alone when it comes to restrictive traffic conditions, such as tight streets and traffic calming devises, plus has the added benefit of low fuel economy”.

Finishing off the list of low floors is the CB20, a unique wheelchair accessible 8.5m minibus designed with 29 seats plus one wheelchair, built to last from stainless steel and fibreglass.

Complimenting their low floor vehicles, Custom Coaches is also offering the most diverse school bus range in the marketplace. The multipurpose SB40 bus body is ideal for operators that need to cover a number of applications, without compromising on quality. The body is designed for the operator in mind, with large service hatches, removable panels for easy access and flat windscreens.

The SB400, is the prestige version of the popular school bus, with an eye catching coach style exterior and a range of quality features.

While the new SB30 Midi school bus is designed for 39 passengers with a front engine chassis. The features include large rear boot, seat belted seating with wide aisle and air conditioning.

“We are proud of our product range. It represents Custom Coaches’ commitment to an industry we have served for over 50 years.”

“It is our investment in the future of the industry – our contribution to strengthen the industry”, Jackson added.

Custom Coaches understands that today’s operators don’t always need one type of bus. By listening to their long-standing clients, the body builder has ensured there are particular vehicles to meet particular needs.

“It is not about economics, as it would no doubt be more cost effective for us to build one type of bus and try and convince operators into operating that vehicle. We value our customers and in return for their loyalty we want to offer them specific vehicles for specific applications” added Jackson.

The benefits

“It is encouraging to hear that many of our clients appreciate the diverse approach we have taken. They benefit from having one point of contact for their entire vehicle needs. One body builder, one after sales service channel and one parts supplier.”

“For example Norm Stott continues to support the NSW bus industry with over 40 years of knowledge and experience. When it comes to body building you have to go a long way to beat Norm’s experience and integrity.”

“The benefit of our mobile service team providing onsite support has also been a welcome addition to our Custom Care after-sales network. With time becoming more and more scarce, operators are finding that supply and service continuity both reassuring and time rewarding”, said Stephen Jackson.

Whilst not all orders are for mass transit vehicles like the CB60 Evo II artic, all Custom Coaches models benefit from the extensive research and development that have gone into these high-end vehicles.

“Even a basic school bus benefits from our commitment to engineering and construction. What other school bus has the backing of a 490 nationwide workforce, with a dedicated team of design engineers and support staff.”

“Advancements in composite materials and building practices see their way through the entire Custom Coaches range” added Jackson.

To support such a diverse product range is a similarly extensive network of production and service centres located across Australia. One may expect Custom Coaches’ Smithfield site, housing manufacturing and after-sales service, to be ideally placed to meet the needs of NSW operators, however, what might not be so well known is the additional support other sites provide, particularly the Gold Coast plant, offering direct service to northern NSW operators.

“None of this is possible without the effort of over 490 staff, many of whom have been part of the team for over three decades. On behalf of everyone at Custom Coaches, from the factory floor to the familiar voices over the phone, I would like to offer our total commitment to the challenges that lie ahead and wish the NSW bus industry a prosperous 2007”, Stephen Jackson concluded.