DYSON GROUP EXPANDS RURAL VICTORIA OPERATIONS

By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: courtesy Dyson Group / Littles Gippsland


LONG-STANDING Victorian bus operator Dyson Group has purchased an even longer-standing rural Victorian bus operator, acquiring Littles Gippsland, based in Sale, the company announced recently.

DYSON GROUP EXPANDS RURAL VICTORIA OPERATIONS
(L-R) Pictured here at the recent Littles hand-over in Sale, Victoria, are Angie Ridgeway, Grant Ridgeway, Roy Dyson - regional operations manager, Dyson Group and Rich Dyson - eastern region manager, Dyson Group.

The Littles operation complements Dyson Group’s existing services within the Eastern Victorian region, the company explains, confirming that it started operating the Sale depot from October 1, 2021.    

Jim Little started the Littles Gippsland Coaches business with one bus around 1945 before selling it to the Ridgeway family in 1969. Today, the operation has grown to a fleet of 28 vehicles operating town services, government contracted work, school runs and charter. 

Both Dysons and Littles confirm all employees will transition across to Dysons as part of the acquisition process, continuing to deliver the, "…same high standards of services to the local community," Dysons states. 

The Ridgeway and Dyson families are committed to supporting the transferring of employees and ensuring the transition process goes smoothly for all, they explain.

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SIMILAR SYNERGIES 

When ABC magazine asked Dysons if this was a purchasing opportunity that recently arose, or had been on the company’s acquisition radar for a while, Dyson Group of Companies spokesperson Roy Dyson explained: 

"Littles Gippsland Coaches has a lot of synergies with our current Gippsland operation." 

"We are able to transfer eight buses we currently operate out of a different location in Sale into this new depot," he stated. 

In terms of rolling stock, the Littles bus fleet is almost exclusively Mercedes-Benz based, with the majority being school buses with Queensland-made Coach Design bodies. The fleet’s newest low-floor route bus has a Volgren body, Dysons confirms. 

Asked to clarify if any of the Ridgeway family would still be involved in the day-to-day operation of the business while owned by Dysons - or if it’s only 'non-family' staff transferring over, Roy clarified: "The Ridgeway family have moved on to other things."

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GOOD TIMING 

Dyson’s expansion into this area comes at a good time arguably, given some hopeful indications of freer – even if only slightly – movement as the year’s end approaches. In theory this would mean freer and more seamless cross-state border travel. 

In dealing with the pandemic, Roy explained: "We have implemented stringent cleaning and sanitising protocols on the vehicles and in the depot." 

"It has been tough as a lot of charter work has been cancelled, but we can hopefully see the light at the end of the tunnel now." 

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ABOUT LITTLE'S 

Family business Little’s Gippsland Coaches Pty Ltd started around 1945 after World War II when it began transporting children before becoming a dedicated bus company. 

Founder Jim Little originally started in the 1930s with a service station, but then added taxis and trucks. Towards the end of WW2, he brought his first bus to transport troops for the government, the company states. 

Jim Little sold the business to Bill Ridgeway in 1969. Ridgeway - with a partner - ran the bus company until his death in 1980. His son, Kevin, with his wife, Margaret, took over - and under their control the company doubled in size, Littles explains. 

The company runs minibus self-drive and charter services, using 12- and 22-seat buses, respectively; plus large school buses for camps, excursions and poll shuttles etc; and general charter luxury coaches for holiday tours, weddings, Melbourne return visits and local and interstate trips – including to the NSW Sapphire Coast’s Merimbula and Eden, Northern Tasmania, and to Echuca and The Murray, it states. 


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ABOUT DYSONS 

The Dyson Group, a family owned and operated bus company, has been in business since 1952 and has four generations of experience in quality passenger transport, it states. 

The Group operates more than 500 buses and coaches while employing more than 900 staff in metropolitan Melbourne, regional Victoria and NSW, it confirms. 

The Dyson Group is one of the largest bus, coach, and public transportation companies in the state of Victoria, it explains.  

The company operates a ‘team’ management style involving staff at all levels of the organisation in the decision-making processes, it confirms. 

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