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Q&A: New ALC Schools CEO Bowling Shares Customer Service Vision

With its January hiring of Mitch Bowling as chief executive officer, alternative student transportation provider ALC Schools teams up with a corporate customer service veteran to take the company to new heights.

ALC said Bowling’s previous experience with the likes of Sears Home Services, Apollo Education, and Xfinity Internet matches with the company’s core competency of providing service to students, parents and 420 school districts in 22 states, while also honing new technology.

School Transportation News recently caught up with Bowling to discuss ALC’s trajectory with him at the helm.

STN: Looking at your extensive background in tech and operations as well as being a subject matter expert in corporate leadership, what drew you to the ALC Schools opportunity?

Bowling: I was drawn to the ALC opportunity because of a handful of factors. First, my background in tech-enabled services and logistics fits into what we do at ALC every day. But what really put me over the top is ALC’s mission. I’m a parent of three, and when I look at ALC’s mission and what we do to make a parent’s life better every day, I couldn’t help but be drawn in. Transporting a special needs child for any parent is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. I thought that our mission, paired with the services that ALC provides, was just a win-win and represented a team I wanted to be a part of.

STN: What lessons do you bring from your experience at Sears Home Services to the student transportation industry?

Bowling: I think there are elements of my past that are very applicable to what we do at ALC. At Sears Home Services, we provided service to thousands of customers each day across the entire country. That took a great deal of coordination, planning and execution to accomplish. Similarly, at ALC, we’re committed to transporting thousands of students every day to a specific destination at a specific time; and to deliver on our promises of safety and compliance. What’s interesting about the ALC experience is that it’s, in a way, more complex from my past experiences because we’re sending the same driver to a specific student’s house twice a day. That’s unique to what we do at ALC, and I think it is a really interesting part of the solution that we’re providing, not just to school districts but their families as well.

STN: Mergers and acquisitions have been on the uptick across all business sectors, and notably within student transportation. How does the acquisition by Palladium Equity Partners make ALC a better company?

Bowling: I think the [May 2020] acquisition by Palladium makes ALC Schools better because previously, they were just a small part of a larger, successful, company. The acquisition carved away a small part of their focus to create the ALC Schools team. Now ALC Schools has a full management staff and executive team. The support of Palladium really allows the management team to focus very specifically on providing great service to our clients and having the proper financial backing to do that.

STN: What can this industry expect to see from ALC Schools this year in terms of technology-enabled services? How is ALC Schools poised to further leverage existing student tracking technology?

Bowling: One of the great things about ALC is our technological capabilities and you can expect continued focus this coming year. That’s one of the things that attracted me to the company. We have been and will continue to invest in technology, the very latest capabilities, not only for our school districts but for families as well. We’re currently beta-testing a new parent app that allows a parent to track the progress of their child on their trip to or from school. That will increase the peace of mind we already offer for our clients and the parents we serve together. I think the ability to continue to invest in technology is what will keep ALC at the top of our game in providing great service to our district partners. We can help them solve some of their day-to-day challenges. It also provides us the ability to reach out to other districts and offer a peace of mind they may not already be experiencing with their current transportation vendors because of its uniqueness.

STN: Can you share insights into ALC’s planned growth strategy over the coming 12 months plans to expand past the current 22 states you are operating?

Bowling: The first thing I want to say is that we really want to focus on continuing to provide unparalleled service to our more than 400 district partners that have already come to expect it. Of utmost importance for the ALC team is our dedication to safety for each individual we transport every day as well as delivering on our service promise. As for our future clients, we will continue to invest in technology. We are providing a technology platform overlaid with a high level of operational rigor. So, what we’re providing today to our current clients, as well as what we will provide future clients, will have a technology element to it that will continue to be on the leading edge in the transportation space of school children.

STN: Thank you.

COVID-19 has made collaboration between school districts and third-part transportation contractors more important than ever. Read more on this topic in the March magazine edition of School Transportation News.

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