Ken Grenda honoured

Grenda Corporation’s founder was honoured at BIC’s Fiji conference, but soon departs the industry with the sale of assets imminent

Ken Grenda honoured
Ken Grenda honoured

By David Goeldner | November 1, 2011

The bus and coach industry’s ‘man of the hour’ turns out to be potentially the ‘man of the century’ given the outstanding contribution Grenda Corporation founder Ken Grenda has made to the industry over several decades.

Grenda was honoured at last week’s BIC National Conference in Fiji through winning the Outstanding Contribution to the Industry Award, sponsored by Iveco.

Since Grenda entered the industry in 1955, he became recognised as an innovator, building a bus empire in route service, school and charter services, as well as manufacturing through bus body builder Volgren.

His bus industry and charity endeavours earned him an Order of Australia in 1997, but in industry terms, the accolade bestowed by his peers at Fiji caps off a remarkable career in bus and coach.

Grenda says winning the award was a ‘total surprise’.

"It’s an absolutely fantastic industry and I am very sad to be departing," he says, in reference to the recently announced sale of Grenda Corporation.

"We are pretty proud of what we’ve done, and I have enjoyed every minute of it."

Grenda says it was important to acknowledge the contributions made by staff across the corporation’s broad-ranging enterprises, numbering about 3,000 combined at Australian Transit Enterprises, Grenda Transit and Volgren.

"If you look after your people, they will look after you," he says.

Nominations for each national award came from a pool of state association winners awarded in the year leading to the BIC National Conference.

This Year’s Environment and Innovation Award, also sponsored by Iveco, went to Comfort Delgro Cabcharge (CDC), a recent winner of the BusNSW state award in this category.

Through a total capital investment of $37million in innovations that are both economically efficient and environmentally innovative, CDC has expanded into the largest private bus operator in NSW, with a bus fleet of 1,176 across 13 depots, and was a worthy winner of both the state and national awards.

Sponsored by Australian Bus and Coach Underwriting, Achiever of the Year went to Blue Mountain’s Bus Company Managing Director Karim Hussain, who was not present to receive his award, but accepted on Karim’s behalf by Northern Highlands Travel Managing Director Jenny Aitchison.

And taking out ABC magazine’s Supplier of the Year Award was Gold Coast-based body and chassis builder Bustech.

Accepting the award was Transit Australia Group joint Managing Director and Bustech shareholder Luke Gray who acknowledged the engineering team at Bustech.

"They keep coming up with great ideas," he says.

A recent Bustech innovation is the much-publicised double decker city bus, now in service with Surfside Buslines on the Gold Coast, with the prospect of a trial about to start in Sydney.

"It will be good to get one running around in Sydney," Gray says.

"When we did the soft launch on the Gold Coast in October, as soon as we had it on the road out came all the cameras – and that was just from the public – it wasn’t part of a campaign."

Gray says he was looking forward to taking orders for the double decker and start manufacturing units.

"The thing with the decker is convincing government it’s a good idea – the operators already know it’s a good idea," he says.

"And there’s a market there for school operators, so watch this space."

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