they're remembered by very few today, at one time the Ward Body
Works was one of the nation's largest manufacturers of school bus
ranking amongst the top 7 in total production in the early 1950s;
its major competitors being Wayne, Blue Bird, Carpenter, Hicks,
Superior and Thomas.
After a bankruptcy it was reorganized as AmTran and after another
change in ownership, IC Corp. Today the Navistar subsidiary controls a
substantial share of the North American school bus market, and can
trace its history back to an enterprising young welder and
blacksmith named David H. Ward (b. September 1, 1904 – d.
May 22, 1985).
David Henry Ward was born
to Gaylord Oscar (aka
George, b.1876 in Arkansas) and Lottie P. (Orrick, b. 1876 in
Arkansas) Ward on September 1, 1904, in Wolfe City, Texas. His
a blacksmith, sawmill operator, and Nazarene preacher. All of the
of the household were schooled on the importance of independent
entrepreneurship, and all started their own businesses.
The 1910 US Census lists the Ward family in
County, Texas, his siblings enumerated as follows: Orbie (b.1895),
(b.1896), Ethel (b.1899), Curtis (b.1902), Willie (b.1906), Oscar
Neal (b.1909) and Milton (b.1913) Ward. Coincident with David's
completion of the 6th grade the family moved to Beryl, Faulkner
County, Arkansas, the
1920 US Census listing them in Eagle, Faulkner County, Arkansas,
the father and three eldest boys' occupations being listed as farmers.
At age 16 David took an entry-level postion
with the local highway department as a rock
crusher operator after which he became a truck driver, hauling freight
between nearby Conway and Vilonia. For the better
part pf the next decade Ward took whatever work was available;
assisting in his father's blacksmith shop, picking cotton, working at
the Ford Motor Co. plant in Greenville, Texas, and working as a welder
for Williams Brothers, a petroleum pipeline contractor. David's younger brother, Neal
was traiend as a blacksmith and ended up in Monticello, Arkansas where he developed a
manufacturing business which became knonw as Ward Bros. and later Dura Craft.
On September 24, 1928 he married Bertha
Evlela Cazort (b.1908-d.1999)
of Vilonia, and moved with his new bride to Conway. To the blessed
born three children, Wanda Jean (b.1934-d.2010 m. Stephens), Charles
David (b. July
24, 1939-d.March 28, 2007) and Stephen Austin Ward.
The 1930 US Census lists the newlyweds
mother Martha L. Cazort in Conway, Arkansas, his occupation is listed
‘welder’ for a ‘gas co.’ In October of 1931 Ward established his own
welding/blacksmith shop in a $50 a month, 800 sq.ft. garage located in
block of Harrison St., Conway, Arkansas. Although the bulk of his
work involved repairing wagons and changing horsehoes, Ward took on his
first school bus job in 1933, modifying the roof of a wood-bodied
school hack operated by Carl Brady.
Word got around and Ward quickly developed a
reputation as the go-to-guy for truck and bus body repair and
fabrication. His first all-metal coaches were constructed in 1936 for
the nearby Hermitage and Greenbriar school districts. They featured
bi-lateral inward-facing bench seats and included removable wire glass
side windows. His bodies developed a following and by 1939
devoted all of his efforts on building school bus bodies.
school bus business operated on an unusual schedule for most of the
20th century. Although school boards and superintendents put off
ordering new buses for the coming school year until the very last
minute – typically April or May – they demanded the vehicles be ready
in time for the upcoming school year, typically the last two weeks of
August or first week of September.
the constructor was well-heeled, building school bus bodies was a
highly seasonal enterprise, with four months on, then eight months off.
Money was unavailable until deposits were made in the spring, and the
flow of money ended when the buses were delivered in August.
Consequently many Ward employees were part-time farmers, relying upon
their bus building income to tide them over during the hot summer
A rise in fatal school bus accidents
resulted in an April
1939 conference in New York City where representatives from all 48
gathered to develop a set of national standards for school bus
operation. The symposium was chaired by Frank W. Cyr, a Columbia
professor and a former superintendent of the Chappell, Nebraska school
The conference was attended by
representatives of the bus
body industry and at the end of the 7-day event the group released a
minimum standards and recommendations. Among them were specifications
of construction, body length, ceiling height and aisle width and color.
Strips of different colors were hung from
the wall and the
participants in the conference slowly narrowed down the colors until
slightly different shades of yellow remained.
National School Bus Chrome became the chosen
slight variations allowed as yellow was a difficult color to reproduce
Yellow had been decided upon because it provided good visibility in the
semi-darkness of early morning and late afternoon.
Since then, 12 National School
have been held, giving state and industry representatives a forum to
existing and establish new safety guidelines operating procedures for
For many years the Federal Government
allowed he industry to
regulate itself, but they became directly involved in motor vehicle
the passing of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of
School Bus Safety Amendment was passed in 1974, and since that time the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued 36 Federal
Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) which apply to school buses.
Ward's business increased to the point where
he was forced to locate to a new 10,000 sq ft. facility located a 805
Harkrider Street, near
of Oak Street.
At the onset of the War the firm
was awarded a number of military contracts. One was for a variety of
truck bodies for
GMC 2½-Ton, 6×6, CCKW military ordnance trucks which was shared with
Car Works of Hihg Point, North Carolina, another school bus body
One body was outfitted as a mobile small
shop (M7A1 & M7A2), and a second variation was used by the Signal
Corps. as a general repair truck (M30
& M31). A reported 15 examples were constructed each day, with over
a thousand examples completed during the war. The bodies were given
several numerical designations as follows:
G138 - Ordnance Maintenance Truck, 2½-Ton,
6×6, GMC CCKW; M7A1 Small Arms Repair Truck; M7A2 Small Arms Repair
G229 - Ordnance Maintenance Truck, 2½-Ton,
6×6, GMC CCKW; M31 signal corps general repair truck
G235 - Ordnance Maintenance Truck, 2½-Ton,
6×6, GMC CCKW; M30 signal corps general repair truck
G508 - Ordnance Maintenance Truck, 2½-Ton,
6×6, GMC CCKW; M7 Van, small arms repair: M30 Signal corps repair
G711 – Signal Corp Communications Truck,
K-53 Truck - 2½-Ton, 6×6, GMC CCKW; Signal Corps Van Body
During the War Ward
constructed several orders for military buses and also performed body
repairs on army vehicles. For their efforts during the conflict Ward
received a citation from the Ordinance Section, U.S. Army.
To make sure that labor strife did not
disrupt the round-the-clock manufacturing going on all over the nation,
government required that all its manufacturers of transportation
equipment invite the United Auto Workers to organize their work forces.
David H. Ward was a Conway School
Board member from 1946 to 1958, and a longtime trustee of the Faulkner
Rd. Church of
the Nazarene. He considered a 1946 run for Arkansas governor on the
but dropped out lacking sufficient funds, remaining active in state and
politics for the rest of his life.
Ward pursued Mexico's burgeoning school bus
business in February of 1947, establishing a satellite assembly plant
in Mexico City, D.F.,
where CKD (completely knocked down) Ward bus bodies were shipped in
from Arkansas to be assembled for
local consumption. By that time the Harkrider Street plant had grown to
over 100,000 sq. ft., its 100 employees producing a record
$1,600,000 worth of buses in 1948 alone. With the plant running at
announced they were establishing a satellite parts plant to supply the
firm with window sashes, tubing, seats and other ancillary bus parts
previously purchased from outside vendors.
many years the system for school bus purchases varied from state to
state. Some state governments pooled all of their counties' orders
together, others published a list of approved vendors, and a few
provided no guidance whatsoever.
the days before the government got involved in the purchase of school
buses, more often than not, coaches were sold to third parties
unconnected to the school district. Most were local individuals or
small fleet operators who had won a bid for transporting a certain
number of students to a certain school. The sale of a school bus was
more akin to selling a motor vehicle to a single customer, sometimes a
lot of leg work was involved in order to get a single bus sold and
financed. After the War more money became available for school
transportation and many school districts began operating their own
fleets, buying their own buses and hiring their own drivers on a
non-profit absolute cost basis.
for bus fleets would be let at a certain place and time, each salesman
knowing that if he could learn the exact amount of his competitors’
bids, he would more often than not win the contract, even if he beat it
by just a dollar or two.
salesman for Blue Bird named 'Red Willie' once described a popular
scheme he had used to drum up business, called ‘the pigeon drop.’ It
utilized an ‘inside man’, typically a secretary or assistant
superintendent who was short on cash. Our salesman's ‘friend’ would
place a fictitious too-high bid from his firm in plain sight on top of
his desk just before a competing salesman was due to arrive. The 'mark'
would submit a slightly lower bid, believing his was now the lowest.
Later in the day, our 'resourceful' salesman would arrive at his
appointeded time with an even lower bid, and if the superintendent
hadn't caught on, would be awarded the contract, as the low bidder was
always awarded the contract.
Upon the occasion of the new equipment
display at the 1950 American Association of School
Administrators' convention, executives of the nation's largest school
bus body builders formed their own trade group: the School Bus Body
Manufacturers Association, the February 27, 1950 edition of the Lima
News (O.) reporting the election of the group's first president:
“John H. Shields Elected President Of
Bus Body Manufacturers:
“John H. Shields, president of the
Coach Corp., is
the first president of the newly-organized School Bus Body
“The group, which represents eight major
manufacturers of school
bus bodies in the nation, is an unincorporated voluntary trade
formed Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J.
“Announcement of Shield's election came
Monday from D.G. Russell,
advertising manager of the Lima firm, who with a local delegation, is
the annual convention of the American Association of School
the New Jersey city.
“Purpose of the new association is ‘to
contribute in the
public interest to the successful operation of these engaged in the
manufacturing school coach bodies, by assisting in the solution of
affecting the industry and the general public.’
“Other first officers of the group are
manager, Blue Bird Body Co., Ft. Valley, Ga., vice president, and
Blake, Jr., president of the Organization Service Corp., New York City
firm, managing director.
“Companies comprising the charter
in addition to
Superior and Blue Bird are: Carpenter Body Works, Inc., Hackney
Co., Hicks Body Co., Inc., Oneida Products Corp., P.A. Thomas Car
and Ward Body Works, Inc.
“Other objectives of the new association
are: To promote
free competition in the manufacture, distribution,
sale and servicing of the industry's products; to promote the
safety features in school coach bodies; to contribute to the safety and
well-being of passengers; to collect and utilize technical and other
information on school bus manufacture and to stimulate acquaintance,
and cordial relations among its members and throughout the industry in
“Formation of the association was a
sidelight of the school administrators' annual session which opened
Friday and continues thru
Wednesday in Atlantic City.
“Supt. Gordon G. Humbert, E. J. Ward,
president of the Board of Education, Howard C. Grove, Central high
school principal, and
Robert C. Barton, managing editor of The Lima News, are representing
Lima at the
“Superior Coach Corp., has its own display
and also displays
in conjunction with Dodge and Ford motor company exhibits. In addition
Shields and Russell, the Superior delegation includes L.A. Larsen,
chairman of the
board, L.H. Larsen, vice president and treasurer, D.C. Shields, manager
school bus division, G.L. Runkle, chief engineer, G.L. Hartman,
engineer, L.J. Hentze, assistant manager of the school bus division,
William Roush and D.L. Metzger of the sales department.”
problems at its Mexico City plant and an expanding Central and South
American market resulted in the construction of a new plant in Austin,
Texas, the April 2, 1950 edition of the American
Statesman (Austin, Texas) reporting:
“New School Bus Plant Here Will Add
Payroll by Raymond Brooks
“Ward Body Works of Conway, Ark., has
a site here for
a school bus plant which will be put in operation in January with a new
of $350,000 a year.
“The site is located on the Bergstrom Spur
of the Missouri
Pacific at the San Antonio Highway, just south of the city limits.
“This is the largest new industrial
enterprise gained for
Austin so far in 1950.
“D.H. Ward has built up a large bus body
works business at
Conway, Ark., during the last 12 years, reaching a national market. His
was recounted last month in ‘Business Week,’ which said he planned to
set up a
new plant in Texas. Location was not then indicated.
“Ward will continue the operation of the
plant in his home
town. A separate corporation is being formed for the Austin industry.
here will be of approximately the same size as the one already in
“The site, purchased from Can Smith and
associates, is in
the new industrial area created when the Missouri Pacific acquired most
Bergstrom spur. Representatives of Ward were discussing a site at the
as soon as the rail connections were assured, the Ward plant became the
to be located in the new industrial area just outside the city and
“Austin cooperation with the Missouri
Pacific in this
industrial development was extended approximately three years ago by a
of Commerce committee headed by W.T. Caswell, and has been supplemented
Austin Development Foundation. The City Council and former mayor Tom
assisted in the long negotiations.
“Ward has indicated he will visit Austin
the early future.
No details of his new business operation were announced by his group.
a building will be erected on the site, the building to have about 1
of floor space. An additional three acres will be paved for outdoor
storage of vehicles
and outdoor work space.
“A change in state school law last year
logical site for the school bus industry. Previously, each of about
school districts over the state had bought its school buses directly.
purchased are handled here by the Board of Control for all schools.
“The Ward operation is to fabricate
all-metal school bus
bodies at its plant and install them on the chassis of all makes of
“The site will be fenced and a field
erected in the
next few weeks. Construction of the main factory building will be
Installation of machinery and equipment is scheduled for completion in
start operations Jan. 1.
“It has been indicated that an Austin
business man, who has
been the Texas sales representative of the Ward Conway factory, will be
active figure in the new Austin industry.”
Ward hope to complete construction of the
plant by eyar's end, the April 23, 1950 edition of the American
Statesman (Austin, Texas) stating:
“Bus Body Plant Due To Roll By '50
“David H. Ward, president of Ward Body
Works, Friday visited
the site here on which grading has been started for erection of his
body plant, and announcing plans to begin operation Jan. 1.
“Ward said the plant will built and
school bus and
transit bus bodies to be supplied throughout Texas and western states
export to Mexico., Central and South America. The export business
been started from the initial Ward plant at Conway, Ark., but will be
centralized here. Ward said.
“The Industrialist announced that a Texas
Ward Body Works
Corporation will be formed. He will be president and J. Roy Jones of
will be vice president and general manager. Jones, an Austin business
for several years been Texas sales representative of the Ward Body
“Ward, a native Texan, said he and his
family will visit
Austin as soon as school is out, and already he is looking forward to
of his children in the University of Texas.
“Austin was selected for his Texas and
because of its educational opportunities, its fine type of citizenship
favorable features such as a lakes area, Ward said. It will be an
place to live for those who work in the organization, he stressed. The
will continue to live at Conway, Ark. and the Conway plant will
operation to serve its market in the North and East.
“Ward, blacksmith and horseshoer in his
early days, started
his school bus plant 14 years ago, with a capital of $125, and now he
employees in the Arkansas plant. He has an assembly plant in Mexico
“The site here was the first major
development on the
Missouri Pacific Bergstrom Spur, and is located at the intersection of
rail line and the San Antonio Highway, just south of the city limits.”
The rest of the Austin management was
introduced in the February 13, 1951 edition of the
American-Statesman (Austin, Texas):
“Cowan Named Body Works Official
“The election of Ray Cowan of Austin as
of Ward Body Works of Texas, and his appointment as general manager of
the new Austin bus manufacturing firm, was announced Monday.
“His selection was announced by David H.
Ward of Conway,
Ark., president of the new Texas corporation, at the close of its first
directors’ meeting. Ward, operator of the largest bus body factory in
Central West, last year selected Austin as the site for his new plant
the Southwest, West Coast, and Latin-American markets.
“Election of W.R. Smith Jr., Austin, as
Ward Body Works of Texas also was announced. Smith is general counsel
of the corporation.
“Ward said that machinery for the new
Austin, and that construction materials are on the way. Work of fencing
paving the plant’s site on the San Antonio Highway and Bergstrom Spur
intersection will start this week, and erection of the buildings will
immediately after the end of the federal construction ‘freeze,’ now set
at Feb. 15.
“The plant will embrace 51,000 feet of
space, including the general factory building and an air-conditioned
“The Austin Area Economic Development
with the Arkansas industrialist in respect to securing rail facilities
necessary utilities, and in assembling data as to Texas market and
facilities, labor supply and utility rates.
“Cowan, who has been purchasing executive
the State Board for Hospitals and Special Schools the past year, has
resigned his state
position to take up his new duties March 1. He formerly served for more
decade as assistant purchasing agent of the State Board of Control, in
purchase of automotive equipment.
“He is vice president of the Association
State Purchasing Agents of the United States He served three Years in
the Navy during
World War II.
“Ward announced that Cowan, as general
manager of the plant, will be in charge of all personnel, operating and
purchasing of the new
“Ward Body Works of Texas will manufacture
and sell school buses, using all standard chassis. It also will
“Formerly Each Texas school district
its buses directly; but under the Gilmer-Aikin program, the entire
school bus buying program is handled here through the State Board of
“Ward previously had been manufacturing
buses in Conway, Ark., for shipment to the Southwest and to Central and
South America. Many of
his units now are in use of Texas schools. Under the new arrangement
Austin plant will supply not only Texas, but the Southwest and the
American export market.
“Mr. and Mrs. Ward, who reached Austin
Saturday, returned to Conway following the close of the organizational
meeting of the new
The 71,600 sq. ft. Austin factory, whose
1,600 foot bus body assembly line could turn out a new bus body every
15 minutes, opened
for business in March 1951. Midway through the year Ward received the
news that they had qualified for a $300,000 loan from the
Corporation (a short-lived - 1933 to 1957 - Federal Agency that
supplied loans to municipal governments and small businesses), theJuly
19, 1951 edition of the Northwest
Arkansas Times reporting:
“Ward Body Works to Receive RFC Loan
“Washington, July 19 - (AP) – The
Corporation has approved a $300,000 loan for the Ward Body Works, Inc.
Of Conway Ark.”
Ward had welcomed labor unions into the plant - due to its WWII
contracts - however the reality was quite the opposite, the September
28, 1951 edition of the
Blytheville Courier News reporting on the United Auto Workers' latest
attempt to organize the Body Works in Conway:
“NLRB Asks Conway Firm To Make Decisions
“Conway – The National Labor Relations
has asked 158
employees of the Ward Body Works, Inc., here to hold an immediate
unionization of the plant or ask the CIO to give up attempts to
In a consequent election the Union was
defeated one again, the March 7, 1952 edition of the Camden News
“Conway, March 7 - (AP) - Employees of
the Ward Body
Works, Inc., here for the second straight time have rejected
the CIO United Auto Workers. The workers voted 145-54 against the union
in a National
Labor Relations Board election yesterday.”
After several pro-union employees were
terminated the union appealed to the National Labor
Board, who ruled in the workers favor, the March 18, 1952 edition of
the Camden News
(Ark.) providing the details:
“Conway Firm To Rehire Workers
“Washington, (AP) - A Conway, Ark.,
manufacturing firm is to
rehire three employees with full back pay under a National Labor
Board order released yesterday.
“The NLRB said it agreed with a trial
that Ward Body Works, Inc., had engaged in some unfair labor practices.
“The decision was handed down on a
filed by the
CIO United Automobile, Aircraft, Agricultural Implement Workers of
“Ward was ordered to stop discouraging
membership in the union
and threatening employees connected with union activities. Three
L. Bradshaw, Leo W. Stewart and Roy L. Stevenson, were ordered
the firm with whole restitution for loss of pay. Another worker, Lea
is to be reimbursed for any loss of salary.”
Continued labor problems were brought before
the NRLB, the June 11, 1952 edition of the Camden News (Ark.) reporting:
“Labor Hearing Postponed
“Conway, June 11 (AP) – A National Labor
hearing on union complaints of discrimination in the laying off of
the Ward Body Works, Inc., has been postponed until June 24…
“The case involves the laying off of
employees and other
alleged unfair labor practices. About 90 workers were released from
months ago by Ward upon completion of a Navy contract.”
The September 10, 1952 edition of the Camden
News (Ark.) revealed Ward was getting into the publishing business:
“Little Rock (AP) – Articles of
authorized capital of $50,000 were filed yesterday for the Eagle
Lithographing Co. of Conway, Ark. Incorporators were listed as David H.
owner of Ward Body Works at Conway, Jimmy Foster and B.A. Short, former
superintendent of Conway schools and now employed by Ward. Although the
company is authorized to print
either a weekly or daily newspaper, Foster said that no newspaper was
In 1953 Ward's school bus sales totalled
2,000 units, producing a record $5 million in revenue. During the year
the Hicks Bus Body Co. of Lebanon, Indiana entered into an 8-10
year agreement with Ward whereby Ward would construct as many as 12,000
school bus bodies over the course of the contract, using dies,
other equipment supplied by Hicks. Although they would be built in
Conway, the resulting buses would be badged
as Hicks' bodies and sold through Hicks' network of established
Hicks manufacturing operations in Lebanon were shuttered and the plant
put up for sale, the firm becoming solely a distributor of school bus
and winter layoffs were typical in the school bus business as explained
in the following layoff notice published in the November 9, 1953
edition of the Camden News (Ark.):
“Conway Industrial Giants In Layoffs
“Conway — More than 700 workers are
by layoffs at two
industrial plants here. Dave H. Ward, president of Ward Body
said today his firm had laid off about 150 employees in the past two
the company had caught up on its orders. Ward said the fall season
an off period but that he was negotiating for a foreign contract for
In early 1954 Ward backed out of its
contract to supply school bus
bodies to Hicks Bus Body Co., and Hicks sued, the Thursday, July 22,
1954 edition of the Camden (Ark.) News reporting:
“Little Rock, Ark. (AP) – The Ward Body
Works of Conway
yesterday was sued for $885,600 in Federal Court here.
“The suit was brought by Hicks Body Co.,
Inc., of Lebanon, Ind.
“The suit charges that the Conway firm
repudiated a contract
for the construction of Hicks bus bodies.”
The January 5, 1955 edition of the Camden
(Ark.) News reported that Federal Judge Thomas C. Trimble had dismissed
the suit claiming the contract was invalid as it was made by an out of
state (aka foreign) corporation:
“Federal Judge Upholds Company
“LITTLE ROCK (AP) — Federal Judge Thomas
sustained a motion by Ward Body Works Inc. of Conway to dismiss a suit
by Hicks Body Co. Inc., of Lebanon, Ind., to gain damages of $885,600
alleged breach of oral contract.
“The controversy, which has been pending
since July 21,
stemmed from an alleged agreement by the Conway firm to supply the
company with 12,000 school bus bodies. In a memorandum, Judge Trimble
“1. The written contract between parties,
letter form, is
an Arkansas contract, not an Indiana contract.
“2. Act 131 does not constitute a
substitution for Act 887,
nor does it repeal invalidating contracts of foreign corporations doing
business in Arkansas without qualifying as required by law. Hicks
had not complied with state requirements.
“3. Hicks, a foreign corporation, is
therefore not in position to enforce such a contract.
“4. The Indiana firm also is not in
to enforce any rights
or claims arising from the void contract.”
Unsurprisingly Hicks appealed, the May 16,
1955 edition of the Camden (Ark.) News reporting on the scond verdict,
which once again ruled against Hicks:
“Conway Bus Firm Wins Suit In U.S. Court
“St Louis, Mo. - (AP) – The U.S. Court of
Appeals has upheld
a finding that Hicks Body Co., Lebanon, Ind., is without the right to
Body Works of Conway, Ark., for breach of contract.
“The Indiana firm contended the Arkansas
company failed to
fulfill a contract to manufacture for it 12,000 school buses over a
eight to ten years.”
strengthened his postion in 1956 by eliminating a number of outside
suppliers through the creation of the C.S. Sash
Co. In addition to supplying aluminum bus windows for Ward, excess
capacity allowed it to supply the same to many of Ward's competitors.
Ward was responsible for a number of improvements in bus window sashes
and in1961 applied for a US Patent on
a Bus Body Window - US Patent No.
3,174,194 - filed Jan. 12, 1961 issued Mar. 23, 1965 to D.H. Ward
assigned to Ward
Body Works Inc.
Ward also established the Ward School
Furniture Company to build steel and wood chairs,
desks and tables for schools and institutions, the
January 20, 1956 edition of the Hope Star (Ark.) reporting on his two
new business ventures:
“Ward To Enlarge Conway Firm
“Conway – (AP) – Ward Body Works, Inc.,
manufacturers of bus
bodies here, has announced the formation of two new Conway concerns
create more than 100 new jobs.
“C.S. Sash, Inc., will make window sashes
for buses, and
employ eight to ten workers. Ward School Furniture, Inc., will make
desks and tables for schools. It will employ about 100 men.
“Dave H. Ward, owner of the body works,
some of the
equipment from his original firm will be used in the new industries.
window sashes will be constructed of aluminum. The school furniture
made of steel.”
The closing of Ward's Mexico City
assembly plant and increased domestic demand for new school buses led
up to the construction of an all-new 114,000 sq. ft. plant located just
south of the Conway city limits on Arkansas Highway 65.
The plant's sheet metal stamping
department included a cold forming mill and 16 steel presses, ranging
from 1/2 to 400 ton capacity. The metal fabrication department included
shears of 6 to 12 feet in length that could cut through a quarter inch
of sheet steel. The tool-and-die department included a band-new Do-All
Friction Saw, the forerunner of today's CNC machines.
In March of 1957 the firms' 170 assembly
line workers commenced bus building operations at the new facility
which boasted 1,500 foot long assembly line which incorporated 14
resistance welders, 75 arc welders, an inert gas welder, and
a multitude of
body jigs and fixtures. When
assembled the bare-metal bodies were treated to numerous coats of baked
on enamel before they were mated to a waiting cowl and chassis and
taken on a test drive.Up to 45 bodies could be on the assembly line at
any given time although the
factory averaged only 100 finished bodies per week.
Most chassis arrived at Conway via rail,
however drivers were often times dispatched to truck factories in
and Kansas to drive home chassis needed to complete an order. It
was not a glamorous job as the drivers were forced to sit on a box
mounted to the totally eposed cowl and chassis with only goggles and a
raincoat to shield them from the elements.
Although the C.S. Sash Company was
successful, the Ward School Furniture Co. was not, the January 7, 1958
edition of the Hope Star (Arkansas) reporting:
“Firm Merger Is Reported Costly
“Little Rock (AP) – Merger of two Conway
firms owned by the
same family has been completed at a book loss of $146,000 an attorney
“The firms merged were the Ward Body Works
and Ward School
Furniture Inc., both owned by D.H. Ward of Conway, his wife and their
“Pulaski Chancellor Guy E. Williams had
order the sale of
some of the furniture company’s equipment to satisfy a $178,170 debt
Ward Body Works had sued.
“Faulkner Circuit Clerk Wendell Bryant
reported that Ward
Body Works submitted the highest bid of $30,000 and the equipment was
that basis, an attorney for the Wards said this meant that the books of
body works would reflect a loss of $148,000 in completing the merger.”
their exhaustive efforts to stay on the up and up, Ward and their
Austin, Texas distributor were sued for price rigging, April 26, 1961
edition of the San Antonio Express and News:
“School Bus Makers Hit With Suits
“Four school bus body manufacturers and
their exclusive Texas dealers were named defendants Friday in
anti-trust suits filed in
Austin and San Antonio by Atty. Gen. Will Wilson. Wilson said the suits
followup, ancillary actions to a suit he filed Aug. 16 accusing 16
and individuals of rigging bids to fix prices on the sale in Texas of
school buses costing $23 million.
“‘The exclusive contracts between these
Texas dealers and the manufacturing companies made possible the
bid-rigging by the
dealers,’ Wilson said.
“The latest suits allege a ‘conspiracy in
restraint of trade,’ by destroying competition through exclusive sales
contracts for the purchase and sale of school bus bodies in Texas.
Wilson seeks permanent injunctions against further restraint of trade
by the firms,
and varying statutory penalties that could collectively total
“At San Antonio, Carpenter Body Works,
of Mitchell, Ind., and its Texas distributor, Commercial Body Corp.,
headed by John
T. Lawson, 501 Eighth St., San Antonio, were named defendants.
“Named defendants in the suits filed in
three Travis County district courts in Austin were:
“Blue Bird Body Co., of Fort Valley,
Georgia, and its Texas distributor. Austin Sales Co., Inc., headed by
Jack G. Fisk, 8419 N. Lamar Blvd.,
“Ward Body Works of Texas, Inc., of
Austin, headed by
Charles D. Ward of 4201 S. Congress Ave., Austin, and The Texacoach
Co., of Austin, headed by Fred Stroud. 106 Brown Bldg., Austin.
“Perley A. Thomas Car Works Inc., of High
Point. N.C., and its Texas distributor. Hurst Bus Sales Co., headed by
J. K. Hurst,
3913 Balcones Drive, Austin.
“Wilson asks the courts to assign
of $50 to $1,500 per day for each day of the alleged conspiracy, or
totals of $226,000
to $6,780,000 for all eight defendants. The earlier suit sought to
penalties of $58 million.
“Ward Body Works and Texacoach are alleged
to have violated the anti-trust statutes since Jan. 1, 1959; the Blue
Bird and Austin
Sales since Dec. 7, 1960; Thomas Car Works and Hurst Bus Sales since
1, 1959; and Carpenter Body Works and Commercial Body Corps. since Jan.
The lawsuit's resolution is currently
unknown, although it's likely the
distributors took the fall, receiving a slap on the wrist and a small
Although Hicks Body Co. lost the war with
did win one battle, receiving a judgement of $80,150 - as
reported in the October 11,
1961 edition of the Hope Star (Ark.):
$80,150 Judgment Is Awarded:
“Little Rock, (AP) - U.S. District Court
Judge Gordon Young awarded Hicks Body Co. Inc., of Lebanon, Ind., an
against the Ward Body Works of Conway, Ark., Tuesday.
“The order said that the money would
compensate the Hicks firm for dies, tools and other equipment it
furnished Ward in 1953 in
connection with a contract for manufacture of bus bodies.
“Hicks had asked for a judgment of
The firm said Ward filed to live up to a contract to furnish bus bodies
for sale by Hicks.”
July 20, 1963 edition of the Northwest Arkansas Times mentioned that
Ward had recived a $1.8 million contract from the US Army:
“Get Bus Contract:
“Conway, Ark, - (AP) – Ward Body Works,
Inc. of Conway has received a $1,836,780 contract from the US Army Tank
Automation Center at Warren, Michigan for 6 buses. The buses will be
used on the White Sands
In 1963 Ward filed for another a patent on a
Knockdown Body - US Patent No. 3,186,755 - filed
Aug. 13, 1963, issued June 1, 1965 to David H. Ward. In 1964 Ward
performed the first independent
side impact rollover test on a school bus, the caption on the UPI wire
photo dated January 11, 1964 follows:
“Car Hits Bus For Injury Study
“Safety Test – a speeding car hits the
of school bus in test of a 1964 Ward Body Works bus on a dragstrip at
Little Rock, Ark.
“Driverless Car guided by a wire hit the
at 46 m.p.h. The bus contains mannequins so a study can be made as to
injuries to the passengers.”
A second test followed whereby a Ward bus
was rolled down a steep embankment, the caption on the UPI wire photo
dated January 17, 1964 being:
“A 1964 School bus is rolled down a steep
embankment at Conway, Ark., in a safety test of the bus' durability.
The bus contained mannequins in the Ward Body Works test to show the
amount of injury to passengers in case of real situation. Test was
Thursday (January 16).”
Ward continued to experiment with ways to
improve bus safety and in 1969 published some recommendations based on
their 1964 crash tests and a survey of the exact placement and quantity
of rivets in its competitor's bus bodies. The study found that
inconsistencies in the manufacturing process had a direct effect on
joint quality - especially related to rivets - and
made recommendations to various government agencies and industry trade
groups that would eventually led up to the passage of national school
bus safety standards in the mid-1970s.
Ward also introduced computer-aided
manufacturing to the school bus business, installing an early IBM
System/360 main-frame computer in the Conway plant in the mid-1960s.
Following Dave Ward's 1968 retirement, his
eldest son Charles - who had worked at the plant since 1959 - took over
as president, although his father remained chairman of the board.
In 1969 S.C. Sash was reorganized as
Surelite Inc., expanding into the insulated and laminated
glass business. They later introduced a line of auxiliary bus
heaters and composite plastic control panel cabinets and wheelwell
With the Central and South American school
markets now saturated with
domestically built school bus bodies, Ward closed down their Austin,
Texas assembly plant in late 1969, consolidating its operations into a
new 15-acre, $500,000 plant located on the outskirts of Beaver Falls, a
northwest suburb of Pittsburghlocated in Darlington Township,
. The 41,000 sq. ft. assembly plant commenced operation on July 7, 1970
using stampings, windows, seats and subassemblies supplied by Ward's
Conway, Arkansas plant.
January of 1970 Ward
purchased the assets of Coachette, a small Dallas, Texas-based Type B
bus manufacturer started in 1954 by Carl Graham,
a former sales manager for Ford and Marmon-Herrington buses. Originally
based on a 172-inch wheelbase Ford truck chassis, the 23-passenger
mini-buses featured coachwork supplied by Ward's plant in Austin.
Chevrolet and GMC chassis were added in 1958 and a larger 37-passenger
Coachette debuted soon after. The dimunitive buses were never big
sellers outside of Texas, and only 330 Coachettes were contructed
between 1953 and 1969 when production ended, in part due to the closure
of Ward's plant in Austin.
Ward relocated the Coachette operations into a
disused S.C.Sash/Surelite building in Conway and commenced small scale production
of the Ward
Coachette using a Chevrolet P30 1-ton motorhome/bus chassis.
By 1973 Ward controlled 25% of the US school
market, quite an accomplishment for a firm that had only been making
buses for a quarter century. In order to keep their postion further
expansion was required and the firm was recapitlized and reorganized as
Ward School Bus Manufacturing, Inc.
By that time the Conway assembly line had
been substantially upgraded and connected to a next generation IBM
System/370 main-frame computer.
Also introduced in 1973 was the all-new Type C (conventional) Ward
Volunteer school bus. The coach featured an all-new body that featured
safety advances made possible by the firm's pioneering work in school
bus crash-testing. Ward’s
most popular school bus line, it could be used with chassis from any major manufacturer and was updated in 1980, 1986,
and 1988. Aside from safety upgrades and a redesigned windshield, the modern-day CE-series IC Type C school bus shares numerous
components found a 1988 Volunteer.
Although safety was an oft-mentioned phrase
in each respective manufacturer’s advertisements, aside from the
adoption of ‘National School Bus Yellow’ in 1939, no Federal
legislation mandating standards
were enacted until
1973, when emergency exits and window releases became mandatory.
Charles Percy pointed out in a 1973 congressional hearing on the
school administrators typically purchased school buses on bids, and
than not, the contract was awarded to the lowest bidder. Although
in particular Ward and Wayne Works, had started offering extra-safe
most school districts couldn’t justify the additional expense to
and administrators. Percy summed up the need for a Federal Safety
Standard as follows:
“So long as there are not adequate
standards, then the bids
come in for a school bus but not necessarily for a safe school bus.”
On October 17, 1976 the Associated Press
following article in which Jay Perkins explains the long overdue
Bus Safety Standards which were to take effect on April 1, 1977. The
Safety Standard relating to school buses - FMVSS No. 217 (Bus Emergency
and Window Retention and Release) had already taken effect (on
1973). The next four implemented were FMVSS No. 220 (School Bus
Protection); FMVSS No 221 (School Bus Body Joint Strength); FMVSS No.
Bus Passenger Seating and Crash Protection) and FMVSS No 301 (Fuel
Integrity - School Buses).
“By Jay Perkins, Associated Press Writer
“Washington - (AP) – On Oct. 2, 1967, four
students boarded a school bus in Waterloo, Neb., for their last ride to
“They died minutes later when a Union
Pacific freight ripped
the bus apart, twisting the sheet metal skin and exposing sharp, lethal
The nine other children aboard were injured, some of them on the
Federal investigators later would label them child-lacerating ‘cookie
“Investigators from the National
Transportation Safety Board
(NTSB) found the bus came apart too easily. Joints failed under too
pressure. Seats ripped from the floor. Children riding in the
portion were tossed about and ‘probably... struck many hard and sharp
“It was the first time a federal agency
found fault with the
way most of the nation's 250,000 school buses are made, although
testing laboratories previously had reported problems.
“Yet, it would be another five years
would propose the first regulation to improve school bus construction.
will be April 1, 1977, when the three federal regulations finally
go into effect.
“Why the delay?
“Because the National Highway Traffic
felt there weren't many fatal school bus accidents.
“‘We found it (school bus transportation)
was the safest
mode of transportation we had, bar none,’ says Bob Boaz, the NHTSA' s
information officer. ‘We had a limited amount of funds and we're
the whole spectrum of highway accidents. So when we looked at
was no way to say 100 fatalities here should be a high priority when we
many more being killed in passenger cars. But then Congress got
involved and said
the heck with cost benefits, issue some standards, so we did.’
“The NHTSA's three regulations will have
force of law,
unless overturned by Congress. How effective will these regulations be?
One of them,
designed to eliminate ‘cookie cutter’ edges, has a loophole that allows
to make a school bus's metal skin even thinner and less safe than it is
The builders say they won't use the loophole.
“Another regulation, aimed at keeping the
collapsing when a bus overturns, relies on a test that even the NHTSA
wouldn't determine if the roof were really safe. And the third,
seats designed to hold children in place during an accident, is not as
originally proposed. The original regulation specified seat backs eight
inches higher than they now are.
“But school administrators said this might
create a discipline
problem because drivers wouldn't be able to see children. So the NHTSA
with a regulation that adds four or five inches to present seatbacks.
“Until now, there have been no federal
school buses. And no state has set safety regulations as strong as the
rules effective next spring.
“Despite their shortcomings, the NHTSA and
the six principal
manufacturers of school buses believe the regulations will produce
once the buses now in use are replaced. That will take a decade or more.
“Meanwhile, more than 20 million children
traditional yellow school buses each school day. Fifteen to 20 are
5,000 are injured in an average year, the government reports. That's
alarming accident rate. The buses avoid accidents by travelling slowly,
drivers watch out for them, and school bus drivers are good drivers,
Aspin, D-Wisc., told a 1973 congressional hearing. But he added:
are probably the unsafest vehicles on the road because when they are
in an accident, the results are often catastrophic. Today's school bus
“Dr. Stanley J. Behrman, representing the
of Oral Surgeons, told the National Safety Council in 1972 nearly 10
of the 16,000 children treated by society members in one year were
“Why then do school districts buy the
buses - those
made by attaching a riveted, sheet metal bus body to a truck frame and
purchased from an outside supplier?
“This type of construction, which is about
half as expensive
as building the bus as a unit, is used for 97 per cent of the school
today. The remaining three per cent are safer.
“They are mostly buses made as a unit,
commercial buses that carry passengers across the country.
“Sen. Charles Percy, R-Ill., noted during
congressional hearing that school administrators usually purchase buses
the lowest bidder. ‘So long as there are not adequate standards, then
come in for a school bus but not necessarily for a safe school bus,’
“Between 30,000 and 35,000 school buses
made each year.
Most cost $12,000 to $15,000. The new regulations are expected to add
the price of each bus.
“The NTSB reported in 1971 that many
injuries in two Alabama
school bus accidents were caused by ‘the laceration of child passengers
exposed edges of the bus interior sheet metal, including the ceiling...’
“There are six major manufacturers of the
of school bus - Blue Bird Body Co. of Fort
Valley, Ga.; Carpenter Body Works, Mitchell, Ind.;
Division, Lima, Ohio; Thomas Built Buses, High Point, N.C.; Ward School
Co., Conway, Ark., and Wayne Corp., Richmond, Ind.
“Most of them still use numerous sheets of
metal to form the
skin - a practice criticized by the NTSB in the 1971 report, which said
panels were poorly fastened. Spacing between rivets was so wide - four
inches - that it resisted ‘wind and weather but the joint could
little to structural strength.’
“Wayne Corp. now uses sheet metal panels
that run the length
of the passenger compartment. This eliminates many joints and produces
“Ward has been marketing since 1971 a
more than twice as many rivets than in pre-1971 buses. Other
using better fasteners and more rivets than they did nine years ago.
“The principal concern about the adequacy
of the new regulations concerns a loophole in the rule designed to keep
metal skin panels from breaking loose in an accident.
“The regulation says the joints between
panels must have 60
per cent of the strength of the panels. But it doesn't say how strong
panels themselves must be. So manufacturers can meet the standard by
the number of rivets at the joints - as NHTSA intends - or by reducing
strength of the panels. ‘You can make those panels out of tissue paper
the standard,’ said one expert.
“Guy Hunter, an NHTSA specialist in school
said the agency was aware of the loophole when the regulation was
left it in to give manufacturers leeway in future designs.
“He also said the loophole can't be used
panels are needed to make the buses rigid enough to pass the rollover
Standard No. 217 - Bus Emergency Exits and
This established requirements for bus
release to reduce the likelihood of passenger ejection in crashes,
emergency exits to facilitate passenger exit in emergencies. It also
that each school bus have an interlock system to prevent the engine
an emergency door is locked, and an alarm that sounds if an emergency
not fully closed while the engine is running. Another portion of
217 required that yellow, white, or red retroreflective tape be applied
to mark all emergency exits, so rescue personnel can quickly find them
Standard No. 220 - School Bus Rollover
This established performance requirements
for school bus
rollover protection, to reduce deaths and injuries from failure of a
body structure to withstand forces encountered in rollover crashes.
Standard No. 221 - School Bus Body Joint
This established requirements for the
strength of the body
panel joints in school bus bodies, to reduce deaths and injuries
structural collapse of school bus bodies during crashes.
Standard No. 222 - School Bus Passenger
Seating and Crash
This established occupant protection
requirements for school
bus passenger seating and restraining barriers, to reduce deaths and
from the impact of school bus occupants against structures within the
during crashes and sudden driving maneuvers.
Standard No. 301 - Fuel System Integrity -
This specified requirements for the
integrity of motor
vehicle fuel systems, to reduce the likelihood of fuel spillage and
fires during and after crashes.
Standard No. 131 - School Bus Pedestrian
Safety Devices –
wasn’t implemented until May 5, 1991.
This standard establishes requirements for
devices that can be
installed on school buses to improve the safety of pedestrians in the
of stopped school buses. Its purpose is to reduce deaths and injuries
minimizing the likelihood of vehicles passing a stopped school bus and
pedestrians in the vicinity of the bus.
Surprisingly, compulsory installation of
seat belts in
school buses has yet to be made a Federal requirement, although several
enacted legislation that requires them; California, Florida, Louisiana,
New York and Texas, although New Jersey is the only state that mandates
1976, Ward built a President-based front-wheel-drive prototype school
bus using a modified International bus chassis that filed to make it to
By the late 1970s the majority of baby
boomers had completed their secondary education, greatly reducing the
number of new school buses required. The nation's school bus builders,
which had already been reduced from 20 to 6 during the previous two
decades were forced to reduce production to stay in business, and the
already slim profit margins were further reduced. Of the remaining six
firms (Blue Bird,
Carpenter, Superior, Thomas, Ward and Wayne), Superior and Ward
were in the most trouble with Ward in the worst shape due to their excessive debt service,
owing a reported $21.5 million to creditors (its successor,
MBH Inc., claimed to have assumed $11 to $12 million of the debt).
On July 18, 1980, the Ward family closed
down the entire operation putting 1,100 workers in Arkansas and
Pennsylvania out of work. One week later, (July 25, 1980) the Wards
filed for protection from their creditors under Chapter 11 of the
Federal Bankruptcy Code. U.S.
Bankruptcy Judge Charles Baker, who presided over the case, later stated:
“(The) proceedings established that the Ward
family members had sold assets or borrowed heavily to keep the company
operating. As a result, he said, the evidence was that the Wards had no money
and 'the personal guarantees of the Ward family are barely worth the paper they
are written on.”
Dave Ward had been an active participant in
the Arkansas Democratic party and Arkansas Governor Clinton was
determined to get the firm's 1,100 employees back to work, convincing a
group of Midwest
businessmen that purchasing the firm’s assets might be a wise decision.
investors, Thomas E. McLarty (wealthy Arkansas car dealer and friend
of the Gov. - his son served as Clinton's chief of staff
1993-1994), J.W. 'Buddy' Benafield (a realtor and former Little Rock
mayor) and brothers Richard L. and Robert E. Harmon (Kansas City, Mo. bus
operators and distributors) formed a holding company, MBH, Inc.
with each partner owning a 1/3 share in the firm (the Harmon’s share was split between
them). MBH established an operating company, American Transportation Corp. aka AmTran, to get the plants
up and running, and on
August 21, 1980, the Conway plant reopened, a little more than a month
after it was shut down by the Wards. American Transportation Corp.
adopted the name AmTran in February of 1981 although the firm's buses continued to use the Ward brand name
due to its established brand
Although they were no longer invovled on the manufacturing end, David H. Ward’s son,Stephen A.
Ward, remained in
the business as Ward
Service Inc., the regional distributors for Ward and later International/IC Corp school buses. Another spin-off, Demographics, was founded by Dave's son Charles to handle mass mailings for
Democratic Party. It was later reroganized as the Conway Communications Exchange and today does business as Acxiom.
In 1985 AmTran introduced 2 new coaches to
supplement Ward's existing
product line;the Vanguard, a Type-A cutway van built on a choice of GM
or Ford 1-ton chassis; and the Patriot,
a full-size semi-forward control Type C coach equipped with a sloped
nose of the type normally found
on Type B mid-sized coaches. Ward's standard Type C coach, the
Volunteer, remained basically unchanged as did the President, Ward's
Type D transit-style front-engined coach which was offered on
International, GM and Asia-Smith chassis.
In 1983 the Harmon's bought
out their partners and in 1990 sold a 1/3 share in the firm to
bus chassis manufacturer Navistar/International, the December 19, 1990 AP Newswire reporting:
“Navistar Buys Stake in Bus Company
“Conway, Ark. (AP) — Navistar International Corp.’s purchase
of one-third interest in American Transportation Corp. could mean 400 new jobs
over five years, officials said. Financial terms of the transaction were not
disclosed in the announcement Tuesday. Brothers R.E. Harmon and R.L. Harmon of
Kansas City, Mo., will retain two-thirds ownership in the Conway company. The
deal will allow the two companies to work toward adding the manufacture of bus
chassis to production of bus bodies at the plant, officials said. James C.
Cotting, Navistar chairman and chief executive, said the company wanted to
strengthen its leading market share position as a chassis supplier to the
school bus industry. ‘It’ s too early to set specific dates, but we will make
positive changes immediately.’ said Jerry D. Williams president and chief
executive officer of AmTran. ‘It will be 14 to 18 months before any significant
personnel changes will be realized.’ AmTran currently has 850 employees and
will have as many as 900 workers during the peak period in the summer. The
company has produced an average of 6,000 buses per year for the past four
years. Production is expected to more than double in the coming five years with
the integrated line, officials said. AmTran should start manufacturing chassis
in six to nine months, with large-scale production in 12 to 18 months, Williams
said. AmTran began operations in 1933 as Ward Industries Inc. and became AmTran
in February 1981. Navistar, formerly International Harvester, has been a major
supplier to the school bus industry for more than 70 years.”
At the time of the sale Navistar
obtained an option to buy the remaining two-thirds from the Harmons and in April
of 1995 Navistar exercised their option, becoming the sole owner of the American
In 1990 the Type D Senator was replaced the
President, which in 1992 was rechristened the AmTran Genesis, the first
bus to drop the Ward trade name.In
1991, AmTran began building complete Type D buses - chassis (engine, frame, and running gear)
bodies - at the Conway site using components sourced from Navistar/International.
The semi-forward control Patriot was dropped in 1992 and in 1996 AmTran
introduced their first rear-engined Type D coach, the AmTran RE.
AmTran dropped their GM-based Type A buses
in 1996 and in 1997 introduced a substantially revised Type C coach as
the AmTran CE, abandoning the Ward Volunteer moniker. In 1998 AmTran
dropped Ford as a supplier of Type C chassis, at which pointNavistar/International became AmTran's exclusive school bus chassis supplier.
The following year (1999) AmTran announced plans to build new plant in Tulsa,
would produce an all-new International-branded Type C school bus. When the plant opened in 2001 it employed 400
employees, it now employs 1,200.
The Conway plant became a dedicated Type D
bus plant, the AmTrans Type D coach becoming the International FE
(front-engine) and International RE (rear-engine). A final name change
took place in 2002 when the company began operating as the IC Corp.
(div. of Navistar), with new 'IC' badges and logos for the entire
As of 2008, IC Corporation employed
workers at its 160-acre, 750,000-square-foot Conway facility, with an
thirty-three to thirty-eight buses per day. The factory produced a
school bus types, including conventional, forward, and rear engine
facility also produced a series of small buses, as well as chassis for
November 2009 company officials announced multiple lay-offs effective
2010. While the Conway, Arkansas plant continues to manufacture some school bus
all bus assembly is done Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The June 6, 2012 edition of the Daily Herald (Chicago, Ill) celebrated the Tulsa plant's 100,000th school bus:
“Navistar Marks Bus Milestone
“LISLE — Navistar Inc. and IC Bus marked a milestone with
the 100,000th bus built in its Tulsa, Okla., plant. The plant employs more than
1,200 workers who manufacture 50 to 75 buses a day—up significantly from 400
employees in 2001 when the plant opened. The 100,000th bus was presented to
Student Transportation Inc., North America’s third-largest provider of school
bus transportation services. ‘This plant demonstrates our commitment to the
school bus industry by building quality, state-of-the-art product,’ said John
McKinney, president of Navistar Global Bus and IC Bus. ‘Because of the hard
work and dedication of our Tulsa employees, IC Bus is far and away the industry
leader not only in pure sales volume, but more importantly in product quality.’”
Dave Ward Drive in Conway (also known
Highway 286) is named for the bus company founder.
south side of Interstate 40 at 450 S. Amity Rd., Conway, Arkansas, Ward
Service, Inc., was recently purchased by the Memphis-based Summit Truck Group and
the Diamond State Bus Co. Summit operates 31 commercial truck and bus
in Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma,
© 2015 Mark
Theobald for Coachbuilt.com
Appendix 1 Patents:
1961 Patent: Bus Body Window - US Patent No.
filed Jan. 12, 1961 issued Mar. 23, 1965 to D.H. Ward assigned to Ward
1963 Patent: US Patent No. 3,186,755 filed
Aug. 13, 1963,
issued June 1, 1965 to David H Ward.