It’s the end of an era but the beginning of a new one for the Billingsley family, which has been synonymous with school bus parts for over 50 years.
Kristen Billingsley, president and owner of Heavy Duty Bus Parts, Inc., and Ultra LED that are based in Willis, Texas, announced in a letter on Friday that the companies have ceased operations and are working with vendors to clear any debts owed and with school district and bus company customers on outstanding invoices.
“This is a timely process and there are many steps to be taken,” she wrote. “I appreciate the time and grace as we work conscientiously.”
Billingsley, known affectionately as KB throughout the industry, took over the company operations after the death of husband Brandon Billingsley, who suddenly died from a heart attack at the age of 42 on Oct. 21, 2014. She wrote on Friday that her team overcame many challenges since Brandon’s death, but after navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and new realities, it was “with a heavy heart” she decided to “close this chapter of” the company.
She confirmed to School Transportation News on Monday that the corporation remains open for a new style of business in the future.
“I am extremely proud of our team and what we have accomplished in the past seven years, we are nervously excited about this next chapter and the new opportunities for transformation,” she added in her letter to the industry last week. “I am grateful for all the love, support, relationships, mentorships, situationships, the friendly competition, and of course the competition … you all have helped me grow as a female business owner, a friend and helped shape me into a better human. Thank you, I have learned so much…. I honor and love this ‘bleed yellow’ industry.”
L.B. Billingsley, Brandon’s grandfather, started the business in 1968 under the name Billingsley Parts & Equipment. Don Billingsley, L.B.’s son, changed the company name to Heavy Duty Bus Parts in 1996, and his son Brandon Billingsley came on board two years later as vice president. He started Ultra LED in 2012 and also began manufacturing a Heavy Duty Bus Parts line of school bus seat foam and seat covers.
Related: Kristen Billingsley Unifies Different Communities Through Personal Growth
Related: Industry Manufacturing Pivots to Medical-Grade Products for COVID-19 Management
Related: Brandon Billingsley: A Bear in the Best Possible Ways