CANFIELD, Ohio – You may not be aware of it, but Myers Equipment Corp. of Canfield has likely been with you on some of the most important drives of your life.
“We get kids to schools and handicapped people to their doctors and in emergencies we get people to the hospital. That’s essentially what we do here,” says Adam Myers, manager of operations and sales and one of six members of the family currently employed there.
Myers Equipment sells and services school and transit buses, ambulances, commercial and conversion vans as well as truck equipment.
“In the winter, it’s nothing but snow plows and salt-spreaders and in the summer it’s nothing but school buses and transit buses with air conditioning and body repairs,” Myers says.
The diverse range of products and services offered by Myers has been one of the keys to its 86 years in business, with the seasonality of certain lines taking up the slack when another drops off.
The other key has been the hard work and dedication of the Myers family, which handles every facet of the operation.
The other family members currently employed by the company are Adam’s brothers Brad and Paul, his cousin Clayton, father Craig and uncle Dave Mowery.
Myers is owned by Craig, his siblings Clark and Brenda, and Mowery.
“We’re a family organization,” Craig says. “Titles have never meant much to us. We just get the job done.”
Craig says the family’s strong work ethic and belief in teamwork came from the founder of the company, his grandfather, Paul Myers.
In 1937, Myers was a farmer in the Sebring area who would load up his REO truck with produce to sell at the farmers market in Youngstown.
One day a man asked if he could purchase Myers’ truck.
“He said, ‘If I sell you my truck I won’t have a truck.’ So then he started buying a new truck every year and selling his other one,” says Paul Myers, general manager of the company.
He decided to open an REO truck dealership on Henry Street in Youngstown and soon after Paul met Ralph Carpenter, who owned a company that manufactured all-steel school bus bodies.
After a weekend tour of the factory in Mitchell, Indiana, Paul decided to also start selling Carpenter bus bodies.
“There are a lot of dealers today that great-grandpa set up as Carpenter sub-dealers for us,” Adam says. “For a long time, if you rode a school bus east of the Mississippi we were a part of that.”
Myers was located on the corner of U.S. route 224 and Fairground Boulevard at the site of an old feed mill, with Paul’s sons David and Richard soon joining the company. Dave, the only survivor of the three, is 94 and still takes an interest in the business he helped build.
Today, portraits of the three patriarchs are proudly displayed in the Myers conference room.
“It started with these three right here,” says Brad Myers, equipment sales manager, as he gestures to the photos. “Grandpa always said we’re spokes in a wheel. If one guy doesn’t perform it puts that much more pressure on the guys on both sides of him.”
Myers moved into its current location, a 52,000 square-foot building on 105 acres, in 1999, and today employs 37. Its main customers are municipalities, fire departments and ambulance services.
Paul says Myers sells about 250 school buses a year with a client list of around 600, covering a territory stretching from Indiana, through northern Ohio and into western Pennsylvania.
“A lot of the tech that you see in a car today is available in a school bus,” he says, including lane departure and collision avoidance, as well as other add-ons such as WiFi, safety lights and cameras. The average cost of a new school bus is around $120,000, up from $70,000 10 years ago, he says.
When asked if the industry is still dealing with supply chain issues, Paul says, “absolutely,” particularly the microchip shortage that began during the pandemic.
Current lead-time for delivery of a new school bus is about 18 months, up from six months, says Adam.
“Obviously, the big thing now is electrification,” Paul says.
Myers will deliver an electric school bus to a client in the next few months with another planned for the next year. At $400,000, the EV buses are about four times the cost of a regular bus. That’s one of the reasons Craig says he’s uncertain regarding the future of electric vehicles with his business.
To absorb the cost, Adam says many school districts are leveraging grant money and COVID relief funds.
“A lot of schools are finally getting that money in their accounts so they are ramping up their bus garages, replacing their fleet,” he says. “There’s a lot of EPA money available.”
To ensure Myers is ready to sell and service the new electric buses, the company sent five employees for training at Thomas Built Buses headquarters in High Point, North Carolina.
Clayton Myers, a technician with the company, says the company maintains good relationships with the local tech schools to ensure their service department is well-staffed.
“We get some of the students to come in here and work through the summer. If they’re seniors, we try to keep them on,” Clayton says.
Myers employs nine technicians.
In the early 1980s, Myers introduced ambulance sales and service to its portfolio. Dave Mowery, manager of ambulance sales, says the company is selling 2025 model-year ambulances due to the backlog in manufacturing.
“If I had a customer that wanted to purchase a new squad today, it would be sometime in 2025 that they would see it. We’re about 2 1/2 years out,” he says.
On the operations side, Myers recently partnered with White Glove Payroll to set up a new payroll app and update payment processes.
Andrea Colaluca, implementation specialist with White Glove Payroll, says the firm was able to quickly move Myers from a paper system to a digital punch clock.
“There was no more paper, no more calculating hours and it eliminated errors,” she says.
“It saves us hours every week,” Adam says.
As for the future of Myers, Craig says he’s hoping to expand the equipment sales side of the business. But other than that, he plans to stay on the path set by Paul, Richard and Dave.
“Not doing anything too crazy is what’s kept us viable for the past 86 years,” he says.
“We all have the same goal – to make the company successful,” Mowery says. “If the business doesn’t succeed, then these guys are out of a job.”
The fifth generation of the Myers family will begin filling out the ranks this summer when Paul’s 14-year-old son begins a part-time job.
When that happens, he’ll no doubt learn from the example set by the older family members, just as they learned from the previous generation.
“We see the three guys on the wall, and you want to make them proud,” Adam says. “We’re here because of those three guys.”
Pictured at top: Five members of the family work at the company: Dave Mowery, Paul Myers, Brad Myers, Clayton Myers and Adam Myers.