SEATING: NB Trimming growing

By: Randall Johnston

Melbourne bus seating supplier NB Trimming are sourcing the latest technology

SEATING: NB Trimming growing
NB Trimming and NB Passenger Seating owner Nick Barrese

Melbourne’s NB Passenger Seating has been supplying bus seats for about four years after identifying a strong demand for the latest European seating technology.

NB Trimming and NB Passenger Seating owner Nick Barrese has been in the industry for almost 26 years, having learned the ins and outs of the trade while employed by McConnell Seats Australia in North Coburg.

During this time he has seen huge changes in what bus operators require, and what he describes as a huge shift from the current style seats, to lightweight and modern designs of the future that have been created with ease of maintenance in mind.

"I’ve always wanted to own my own business and this is an industry that I’m really passionate about," he says.

"I am always trying to learn more about the industry, trying to understand what the customer wanted and ways to be innovative.

"Operators were a bit hesitant at first, because we were the new guys.

"As soon as we received orders, the word got around and we started getting a lot of referrals and repeat business."

Barrese started out doing total bus interior refurbishments from his Coburg (now Somerton) depot in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, but soon branched out to become a seat supplier after discovering a brand that no one else was supplying in Australia.

"I found a Polish [seat] manufacturer by the name of STER and I actually went over there to investigate about four years ago," Barrese says.

"When I went to their factory in Poznań, I was very impressed with all the different designs they had.

"Depending on what the customer was after, they had something for all scenarios.
"If fuel consumption was the main concern, they have ultra-lightweight seats.

"If vandalism had been a problem for the customer, they have seats that have a replaceable rear covers if they get tagged up or scratched. They can be replaced at a very little cost.

"They have seats that can be removed from the frame so when it’s time for them to be reupholstered all they have to do is remove the seat portion and the backrest portion, while the frame stays in the bus."

Barrese was so impressed by these new Polish designs, that he started bringing these seats into Australia to supply to his customers.

"We are the sole supplier of STER in Australia," Barrese says.

"We buy just the raw components and put it all together here.

"The feedback I have had about the seats we have supplied and installed so far has been positive.

"We did a job for the Werribee [Open Range] Zoo, fitting out their safari bus and they were really pleased with the results and so were we.

"It’s a very satisfying feeling when you’re able to give a customer exactly what they want, rather than trying to convince them of what you think they need."

He says of all the requests he got from bus operators the main thing they required is seating that is easy and cost-effective to maintain.

"Obviously seats have to be comfortable. When it’s time for re-trimming seats the operators don’t have a lot of downtime when re-trimming seats, as the seat inserts are fast to remove, re-trim and replace," Barrese says.

"If the seats get damaged or just worn out, they want to be able to repair them easily and without cutting into their bottom line too much."

Business is going from strength to strength and currently employs five full-time staff and has been growing rapidly since opening in 2009.

NB Trimming has installed seating and done total interior vehicle refurbishments for some major bus operators in and around Melbourne, as well as interstate.

Some of NB Passenger Seating’s biggest clients include The Dyson Group, SkyBus, Panorama Coaches and Cranbourne Transit.

"We would like to expand into New Zealand in the near future, but we are taking things one step at a time and concentrating working mostly with operators in Melbourne and around Australia at the moment," Barrese says.

This year, Barrese says he is looking to expand on the range of seats he is able to offer and work on increasing the profile of the STER product locally.

"We have a great range of seats that can be tailored for a range of purposes to suit operator’s needs," Barrese says.

"It’s just a matter of getting the word out there and making operators more aware of what we can do for them."

NB Passenger Seating will have seats on display at the BusVic Bus Expo in Melbourne on July 8 and 9, 2015.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the ABC e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook