Vehicle Distribution and Sales

As the U.S. partner in TAM-USA, Transportation Alternatives was responsible for performing all marketing, sales and aftersales activities, including:

  • establishment of East and West Coast parts warehouses and service centers
  • creation of national network of warranty centers to service U.S. and foreign components
  • creation of commercial relationships with suppliers of hundreds of U.S. components
  • creation of regional dealership network throughout the country
  • formation of sales agent arrangements and dealership agreements
  • negotiation of Technology Transfer Agreement for the TAM-USA-owned model 252 school/activity bus
  • coordination, shipment, sale and purchase of parts to and from the manufacturer in Slovenia
  • liaison with customs brokers and maritime insurance agents
  • development and maintenance of inventory of spare parts, by service center
  • development and placement of advertisements in, and conduct of public relations activities with, national trade publications (see Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations)

As a result of TAM-BUS’s production of two models for the North American market, TAM-USA began sourcing U.S. and Canadian components to TAM-BUS and bodymaker AM-BUS for their production of buses and coaches sold to other export markets. As a result of this effort, TA and TAM-USA helped “push” Rockwell axles, Cummins engines and Power Star shock absorbers, among others, into Russia, Israel, Croatia and Slovenia. This stream of export activity was designed to both reduce costs and improve the product quality and value of TAM-BUS products, and balance currency disparities related to the dollar’s weakness against the deutschmark. By this approach, TAM-USA’s sales penalties from the high cost of European “content” was balanced by commissions it earned as a sales agent for U.S. and Canadian components sourced to its European partner.

Given the events which unfolded beyond TAM-USA’s control, TAM-USA’s successful sale of vehicles in the North American market was nothing short of remarkable. Formed in 1989, the Company survived Yugoslavia’s temporary conversion to “hard currency” in 1990 (which eliminated TAM-USA’s countertrade financing from a Fortune 500 Company), the subsequent Civil War in Yugoslavia in 1991 (from which Slovenia emerged as a democracy), the demise of TAM-USA’s two “high-end” school bus competitors in the West Coast Market in 1992 (resulting in a “watering down” of technical specifications for institutional purchases), and the eventual dissolution of manufacturing partner TAM BUS in 1994 – to successfully sell an initial order of a dozen motorcoaches in the United States. (TAM buses still operate in California, Florida and several other states.) TAM-USA sold almost all of the last allotment of 30 coaches ordered from TAM-BUS before the manufacturer’s eventual cancellation of the order accompanying its dissolution. TAM-USA even obtained a loan for $1 million from a New York Bank to provide the manufacturer with the funds to purchase 30 sets of engines, transmissions and rear axles for this order in advance, to facilitate its cash-flow position. TA also helped TAM-USA sell its two model 252 school bus prototypes (after both were subjected to a range of FMVSS-required tests) to a California charter bus operator who converted them to “over-the-road” tour coaches and which, well past 2010, continued to deploy them in charter and activity bus service. (See Vehicle Design and Product Development.)