Manufacturing

Accuride Increases Brake Slack Adjuster Warranty

Accuride announced that it has extended its warranty on Gunite Automatic Slack Adjusters for school buses to cover four years or 400,000 miles as a result of improved manufacturing processes.

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Navistar Closer to Profitability, 1Q Results Show

Navistar reported a $42 million net loss earnings, or $0.52 per share, and $2.4 billion in first quarter revenue, a nearly a 10-percent increase over the revenue posted during the same period last year.

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Blue Bird Publicly Traded on NASDAQ Following Acquisition

NASDAQ trading opened Wednesday with a new kid on the block called "BLBD." That's the ticker symbol of Blue Bird Corporation after the stockholders of Hennessy Capital Acquisition approved on Tuesday the purchase of the school bus manufacturer from The Traxis Group B.V. for $427 million.

Affiliates of Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. retain 58 percent of the company's outstanding public shares. As part of the deal, Hennessy Capital also officially changes its name to Blue Bird Corporation. A Blue Bird represented confirmed for STN that the pro-forma enterprise value of the deal consists of a combination of common stock, convertible preferred stock and debt.

"We are thrilled to have completed our business combination with Blue Bird," said Daniel J. Hennessy, the former chairman and CEO of Hennessy who is now vice chairman of the combined company. "Blue Bird is an iconic brand that has demonstrated significant growth momentum. We are excited by the prospects for continued growth as management executes on their strategy."

bb henn cerb logos 1Blue Bird will see a new Board of Directors that will bring in six members of the company's existing board, the companies jointly stated. Chan Galbato, CEO of Cerberus Operations and Advisory Company, LLC, has served as non-executive chairman of the Blue Bird Board of Directors since 2009 and will continue in that capacity.

Phil Horlock will continue as president and CEO of Blue Bird and will also have a seat on the Board. The Blue Bird management team will also remain in place and company headquarters will stay in Fort Valley, Georgia.
"Today is an exciting day for Blue Bird and marks a new chapter in our history," commented Horlock in a statement. "We have a strong reputation for product quality as our focus has always been to build the world's finest school bus. Our passion for safety, quality, durability and serviceability runs through our entire workforce and can be seen in the industry-leading buses we produce every day. We will continue to pursue new opportunities that drive customer satisfaction, growth and profitability."

Galbato said Cerebus looks forward to working with Blue Bird and Hennessy to continue growth of the company's value by "delivering results and maintaining great relationships with customers, dealers, employees and shareholders."\

Blue Bird is scheduled to release its fiscal first-quarter financial results on Friday morning.

The first Blue Bird school bus was manufactured in 1927 by Ford franchisee Albert L. Luce, Sr., and he created the Blue Bird Body Company five years later. The Luce family continued to operate the company until 1984 and retained ownership until selling an 82-percent stake to Merrill Lynch Capital Partners in 1992, a deal that changed the name to Blue Bird Corporation.

British Henlys Group PLC and the Volvo Group purchased Blue Bird in 1999, but five years later Henlys was forced to restructure and sell its shares. Volvo retained 42.5 percent of the newly created Peach County Holdings, Inc. stock with Henlys creditors owning and equal share and Blue Bird management holding the rest. That deal also led to Volvo taking over operations of Prevost and Nova Bus.

Cerberus acquired Blue Bird after it filed for bankruptcy in 2006 and paired the school bus manufacturer with its North American Bus Industries and Optima Bus Corporation business. Cerberus sold NABI and Optima to New Flyer in 2013.

Blue Bird said it has sold more than 550,000 school buses over the past 88 years.

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Maintaining

E-commerce sales are expected to grow to more than $400 billion by 2018, according to Forrester Research and eMarketer. But online ordering remains slow in the student transportation industry, a new STN survey of fleet managers shows. 

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Spheros Group Acquires ACC Climate Control

Customers of ACC Climate Control will soon not only be able to specify air-conditioning systems for school buses but also heaters and roof hatches. That is one of the developments resulting from Spheros Group completing its acquisition of the company at the end of January.

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Edgerly to Succeed Platt as Thomas Built Buses Leader

Daimler Trucks North America announced that current Thomas Built Buses VP of Operations Caley Edgerly will become the school bus OEM's new president and CEO beginning March 1. Current company president Kelley Platt was just named the new GM of Western Star trucks.

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