NSW PREMIER TRANSPORT BUYS QLD STONESTREETS BUS BUSINESS

By: Fabian Cotter


CONFIRMING months of industry rumours and conjecture, Queensland-based Stonestreets bus company has been sold – excluding its travel component – to NSW South Coast-based Premier Transport Group, local Toowoomba-area media confirm.

NSW PREMIER TRANSPORT BUYS QLD STONESTREETS BUS BUSINESS
"The bond with the Stonestreets family that started then stands strong today," said Premier Transport Group managing director John King.

At the time of print, an official price for the deal had yet to be disclosed, but reports that Stonestreets currently holds 26 Department of Transport and Main Roads school bus contracts, as well as private school and resource sector contracts, plus operates significant charter services means the transaction – due to complete this week – is seen by many undisclosed sources within the Australian bus industry as a massive strategic boon for the Premier Transport Group.

A rare online auction targeting sporting teams and featuring buses believed to be ex-Stonestreets fleet a few months ago gave rise to industry insiders assessing that Stonestreets was about to close for good, ABC magazine can now confirm, but it seems a sale was the higher probability outcome all along.

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According to The Chronicle newspaper – a regional daily focussed on Toowoomba, the Lockyer Valley and Darling Downs in Queensland – its recent report states: "A key component of the transaction is that the current [Stonestreets] management structure, and all existing staff, will be transferred to the Premier Group."

Also that, "The travel division of the company will continue to operate under the ownership and control of the Stonestreets family."

In terms of the assets involved, it states the sale includes Stonestreets’ Toowoomba, Ipswich and Dalby bus depots and the majority of the bus and coach fleet.

Stonestreets managing director Phil Stonestreet is quoted as stating it meant a great deal to himself and fellow director Bev Mules that they were able to, "transition the ownership of our business to a group that so closely aligns with our company structure and values."

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As the article explains, Stonestreets Coaches commenced operations in Toowoomba 25 years ago and through strategic acquisitions large-scale contracts grew to a fleet of 300 vehicles at its peak.

"Mrs Mules’ daughter Michelle Mules is employed in a senior role as operations manager with the company, a role she will continue to hold under the new ownership," the publication states.

It continues: "Mr Stonestreet said while the sale was a difficult decision for the family, ‘the commitment from the Premier Group to continue to employ the full complement of our staff, and retain Michelle to lead the local depots, was a critical factor in our decision.’"

"Mr Stonestreet and Mrs Mules and their families will remain in Toowoomba and continue to operate the remaining division of their business, Stonestreets Travel, from its current premises in Warwick Street," it adds.

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FAMILY BUSINESS SYMMETRY

Premier Transport Group managing director John King – who is a country representative of the BusNSW Board of Management and also its current president – is also quoted in The Chronicle as stating his company was delighted to welcome Stonestreets’ operations into the Premier Group.

"I have known the Stonestreets for over 30 years, and the bond with the Stonestreets family that started then stands strong today. We are excited to add such a professional operation with a great future, to our group," he said.

As it explains, Premier Transport group operates a range of services between northern NSW and north Queensland and is, "…renowned as a successful family owned business with a strong customer focus and ongoing involvement in community and industry groups."

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ABOUT STONESTREETS

Stonestreets Coaches was founded by Keith Stonestreet in Toowoomba, Queensland, in the early 1990s, after purchasing Centenary Heights and Middle Ridge Bus Service, running a regular town service and school runs.

He held a bus licence up until as recently as 2015 after 42 years before surrendering it, and he’d been an active bus industry participant since the 1970s, when he’d previously operated a number of small regional NSW bus companies.

The Toowoomba company expanded quickly to include additional local school runs, plus other school runs in Roma and Dalby.

Throughout the past 15 years, current directors Phil Stonestreet (Keith’s son) and Bev Mules further expanded the company to include: permanent depots in Ipswich, Roma and Gladstone; a large HQ in Toowoomba; project and charter bus services; plus a formidable travel division.

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