Bus builder bounces back

A Brisbane-based bus builder has put the recent floods in the past, getting orders filled and looking at new opportunities in off-road buses

Bus builder bounces back
Bus builder bounces back

By David Goeldner | February 10, 2010

Prospective orders for off-road buses are high on the list of priorities as leading bus and coach body builder – Coach Design – makes up for lost time after being hit by the recent Queensland floods.

Coach Design’s facility didn’t go completely under, but enough water came through the property to put vehicles, plant and machinery at risk.

Coach Design General Manager Wayne Cahalane says he relocated six threatened vehicles to higher ground a day before the flood waters peaked at the Archerfield site, one of several low-lying Brisbane suburbs inundated in January.

The vehicles were moved to higher ground at Coachworks, a bus body refinishing business a few kilometres away at Acacia Ridge.

"Then we got all the machinery, welders, compressors and hand tools up to our mezzanine level five metres above ground," Cahalane says.

Apart from the clean-up after the water receded, Cahalane and his staff waited a week for electricity inspection and reconnection.

"We hired diesel generations and a compressor to keep working, but we had to put some of our staff on extended leave until everything was back to normal," he says.

"So we worked with limited staff during that period to keep things rolling as much as we could."

Cahalane says all staff returned to work within three weeks with no job losses.

"We got off lightly compared to a lot of other businesses in the area."

He says many in-build orders at Coach Design were ahead of schedule before the flood struck.

"I rang our clients to assure them their vehicles were okay, and that we may be delayed," Cahalane says.

"And we appreciate the help Coach Works gave us by roping off an area in their yard for our vehicles."

With operations coming back online, Coach Designs’ work in progress includes a new Volvo B13 three-axle high deck for Kennedy Tours at Nowra which came out of the paint shop today.

"But we aren’t as busy as we were this time last year," Cahalane says.

"We have a steady flow of work, and we are looking at other options."

He says Coach Design had recently quoted on four wheel drive buses for mine sites in PNG.

"We build most of our off-road buses on MAN and Mercedes-Benz chassis, but these are on Isuzu chassis, and at the moment we are just quoting."

Cahalane doesn’t expect 2011 to be as busy as last year: "The flood didn’t help our situation."

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