The largest public transit bus remanufacturer in the United States sits at the end of a quiet street in west Owosso, out of sight and unknown to most of the local population. It’s been there for 38 years. It recently earned its largest financial contract in the company’s history, however, to the tune of more than $40 million.
Midwest Bus is ramping up its seventh project for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, remanufacturing 155 MBTA public transit buses. Due to the size of the project, dozens of new jobs have been created. Midwest has had to fill welding, painting, auto body, electrician and many other manufacturing-related positions, and still needs about 30 more people to add to its team of 130 employees.
“Dedicated employees are very important to us. We have plenty of opportunities,” explained Dan Morrill, owner of Midwest Bus. “We’re looking for skilled trades as well as people with mechanical aptitude and experience, although we are willing to train.
“We serve a wide variety of industries and clients, even though we are excited about yet another project for MBTA. Municipal transit buses are our bread and butter, but we also rehab buses for universities, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Windy City Limousine and private motor coach companies such as Indian Trails here in Owosso, among many others. We’re extremely proud of the work we do for our customers, and many of them come back to us time and time again.”
Midwest also refurbishes shopping and airport shuttles, and its Byk-Rak division manufactures and sells bicycle racks for the front of transit buses. Additionally, Midwest sells and leases used buses, provides replacement parts and field repair services for air conditioning, wheelchair lifts, glass and more. Its economic impact has been felt on many levels.
“Businesses like Midwest don’t just create jobs,” said Justin Horvath, CEcD, Shiawassee Economic Development Partnership CEO. “They add to our tax base, buy from local and regional suppliers, and give back to the community in charitable ways. When you see a transit bus drive through town from another state or university, chances are it’s going to or coming from Midwest.”
Midwest has two locations in Owosso: the main plant at 1940 W. Stewart Street, and a second facility on Aiken Road. Between 20 and 25 people work at the Aiken location, which was a heavily vandalized, 20,000-sq.-ft. building Midwest bought in 2011. It underwent extensive interior and exterior renovations, including the addition of a state-of-the-art paint booth.