The family atmosphere is crucial to DATTCO’s success, according to Owner Don DeVivo, who runs the third-generation business with his two sons. Now a $180 million company, DeVivo’s father started DATTCO with just one school bus back in 1949, around the same time his parents met. Coincidentally, the couple had met on a school bus; it’s an occurrence DeVivo humorously assumes was fate.
“My dad was driving the school bus and she was chaperoning a basketball team and that’s how they met, so I guess I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for school buses,” he says.
Jokes aside, DeVivo is very serious about the business, which was actually founded in 1924 as MASTCO, and bought out by the first generation of DeVivos in 1964. The company now owns over 1,447 school buses and a total of 1,649 revenue vehicles with 27 locations that operate in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
“Much of our key management staff has been here for over 30 years. We’re a very cohesive group with lots of industry knowledge, so the ability of the staff has definitely helped us grow the company,” DeVivo says.
DATTCO offers its own training program for drivers and mechanics, something that attracts those interested and allows them to easily get the certifications they need. DeVivo stresses that the company supports their staff however they can.
“The idea is to make DATTCO comfortable for everyone who works here, so we do everything we can to attract and retain drivers and mechanics by offering them training and skills,” DeVivo says. “For mechanics, we have training program for one year and they’re taught everything about how to be a diesel tech, from electrical to brakes to how to weld, and after they’ve completed the year-long program, they work in our shops with our master techs.”
DATTCO also offers skills and training to its drivers such as the CDL certification, as well as ongoing training once they’re hired. In addition to training, DATTCO offers employees incentives to do well, whether it be with a pizza party for a month without at-fault accidents, or a “Top Shop” award given to the location with the highest safety score. They’ve implemented technological changes to ensure safety as well, like accident event recorders and GPS tracking. The company also took part in a program with the University of Vermont, which focused on becoming environmentally friendly.
“Millennials have embraced bus transportation because it’s green and it’s convenient so we’re seeing this resurgence of young people who are utilizing us as a resource,” he says. “Going green in a big change and emphasis for our company right now, and it’s important to promote the growth of our industry and make it stronger.”
From college campus shuttles to travel tours of Niagara Falls, DeVivo says he is “happy in our little corner of the world,” better known as Southern New England. DATTCO is the region’s most diverse provider of passenger transportation and has an annual mileage of over 25 million.
“I call it controlled growth, because we’ve increased our number of vehicles and employees, but we’ve stayed tight as far as geographic area,” he says. “We’ve been growing at a very substantial rate in both our school bus and motorcoach division and I credit everyone who works here.”