Management & Operations

California operators discuss latest manufacturer news at annual meeting

Posted on January 1, 2004

With an emphasis on the latest motorcoach technologies, the California Bus Association (CBA), the nation's largest state bus organization, held its annual conference and trade show Nov. 1 to 4 in Cathedral City, Calif. More than 200 attendees enjoyed the three-day lineup of guest speakers, seminars, workshops, social activities and product unveilings. Dozens of businesses, consultants and industry associations were also represented. The event was highlighted by a motorcoach display and trade show, which featured new motorcoach models and equipment from approximately 40 vendor companies. Blue Bird Corp., Motor Coach Industries (MCI), Prevost Car Inc., Setra of North America, ElDorado National and ABC Companies were some of the bus manufacturers represented at the show. In fact, arguably the most well-attended and moving segment of the conference was the hour-long motorcoach manufacturer panel, which featured state of the industry addresses by several high-ranking executives at major bus manufacturers. Included in the session were Georges Bourelle, president and CEO of Prevost; Ron Cornell, president and CEO of ABC; Gene Hall, vice president of private sector sales for MCI; and Robert Jones, vice president of sales and marketing for Setra. Members of the panel answered select questions about what their respective companies are currently engaged in. “Right now, MCI is working on a lot more multiplexing,” said Hall. “we’re improving our facilities as well.” Setra’s Jones said that his company is a much bigger player worldwide than it is in the U.S., but it is working to change that. “it’s a continuous give and take to get products acclimated to the U.S. market,” he said. “We are building our infrastructure through efforts such as partnering with companies like Detroit Diesel.” When asked about sales and inventory levels, all of the speakers acknowledged that bus inventory surpluses have been the norm and that conservative approaches have been used. However, they all displayed optimism. Said Bourelle, “Our inventory is shrinking, and we are proactive about finding homes for all the coaches that aren’t owned. The market will turn around soon.” The conference also featured a 90-minute session during which representatives from several vendors discussed the latest technologies available. A lineup of guest speakers included consultant Mike Henning from the Henning Family Business Firm and Victor Parra, CEO of the United Motorcoach Association.

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