School bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corp., which also builds Wanderlodge highline diesel pushers, struggled this year because of an overly ambitious expansion effort, according to the Macon (Ga.) Telegraph.
Blue Bird, a unit of British bus builder Henlys Group plc, planned to shift school bus assembly operations to La Fayette, Ga., a community in the northwest portion of the state. But the move did not work out so Blue Bird laid-off almost 500 employees earlier this month and it now plans to bring school bus assembly back to its headquarters location in Fort Valley, in south Georgia, the newspaper reported.
“Blue Bird’s performance in 2003 was not good,” said Jeff Bust, who was hired by Henlys last July as president and CEO of Blue Bird.
But now that Blue Bird is bringing school bus assembly back to Fort Valley, Bust told the Telegraph, “I think we’re in good shape.”
Blue Bird has two assembly plants in Fort Valley, one for school buses and the other for the Wanderlodge M3800, LX and LXi series of diesel engine Class A motorhomes.
The company laid-off 425 Fort Valley employees earlier this month but it is building a new assembly line for the school bus plant which should be fully operational by April, the Telegraph reported. When the new school bus assmebly line opens, the 425 jobs will be re-filled, returning Blue Bird’s Fort Valley employment back to around 1,600 people, according to the newspaper.
Meanwhile, at La Fayette, Bird Bird laid-off 60 temporary and full-time workers earlier this month and the company informed another 250 La Fayette employees that they will be let go within six months, according to the Chattanooga (Tenn.) Times/Free Press.
Blue Bird will continue to have between 300 and 400 employees in La Fayette after the 250 people are laid-off, the Times/Free Press reported.