With a company history that goes back more than more than 45 years, school bus dealer and repair center Matthews Buses, Inc., is now the authorized dealer of Thomas Built Buses for the entire state of Florida, said company owner and president Glenn Matthews.
Prior to Oct. 25, Matthews Bus serviced three-quarters of the state for Thomas. It now expands into southern Florida. In July, the dealer also opened a new full-service facility in Orlando.
"We look forward to this very exciting opportunity to be in South Florida. We are very excited to welcome back Cliff Clare, Jr., to TEAM Matthews to be our account manager in this region," added Glenn Matthews in a statement. "Cliff has over 21 years experience in the bus business and he will be a tireless advocate for customers. We recently purchased two new sprinter service vans and will be getting our mobile service technicians out in the region. We will expand our services in the area as needed by the customers."
The dealer's entire customer service team of sales, parts, training, on-site warranty and recall repair, and A/C services will also come to South Florida. Matthews also said the company's training and technical support manager, Ali Rampartab, will also soon be training South Florida customers upon request.
Matthews Buses, Inc., is based out of Ballston, N.Y., and also operates dealerships in Dansville, Maybrook and Syracuse, N.Y., in addition to facilities in Tolland, Conn., and Berwick, Maine. Matthews was named Thomas northeast region dealer of the year in 2009.
“Matthews has been an excellent partner in north and central Florida, and we believe south Florida pupil transportation professionals be well served by this expansion,” said Ken Hedgecock, vice president of sales, marketing and service for Thomas.
The family-owned company has been a Thomas dealer since being founded by Robert E. and Justine Matthews in 1967. At the time, Perley A. Thomas, the founder of Thomas Bus, asked Robert, then a school board member in Long Island, to head up new Thomas dealerships located in western New York.
Robert also ran an auto body shop, which was started by his father. Robert and Justine soon moved their family west and started the Matthews Buses operations, which now also includes school bus air conditioning manufacturer Rifled Air. Glenn and brother Brad partner on that side of the business, which evolved in the early 1990s from Matthews Buses' work as an installer of Carrier air conditioning units for other Thomas dealers. When Carrier opted to begin installations straight at the factory, Rifled Air was born.
"It’s definitely in our blood," Glenn Matthews told School Transportation News last month of his family's history in the school bus industry. "That’s all I’ve known since I was 5 years old."