Executive Spotlight: Don DeVivo, DATTCO

Posted: 07/25/2019
Category: Member Spotlight

As one of the Northeast’s leading motorcoach operators DATTCO has an uncompromising commitment to high standards when it comes to safety, maintenance, customer service, driver training, equipment, operations and on-road support.  In 2018 our efforts were recognized when we were presented with the prestigious International Motorcoach Group’s (IMG) Safety Award. Our fleet is one of the newest, well-appointed in the Northeast, and our drivers are the best in the nation – both lending to a high-quality, worry-free experience for our clients.

What are you and your organization seeking to achieve?

We are always working to expand the DATTCO’s brand recognition across the Northeast, while continuing to provide our signature high level of service. Keys to this growth are improving efficiencies and processes that can be successfully replicated as part of expansion and growth, maintaining our high safety standard and securing the best-possible transportation specialist for the DATTCO team. We seek to capitalize on new opportunities, like the generational shift that is already starting to impact public transportation.

How did you get to where you are today?

DATTCO’s story begins on a dairy farm in Berlin, CT in the 1940s. Ed DeVivo (first generation) took a side job to earn some extra money as a school bus driver for Pop Chicowski, who owned and operated one of three school buses for the town. In 1949, Pop retired and sold that 1939 Ford Superior body school bus to Ed. Shortly thereafter, cousin Mike Tolomea would join Ed to form D&T Transportation Company.

In the 1960s, things began to pick up speed for D&T. The company purchased MASTCO, a local transit and charter bus operator dating back to 1924. Mike Tolomea retired and sold his share of the business to Ed and his brother, Lou who then officially changed the name of the company to its current acronym DATTCO. The company purchased three used motor coaches and provided service to the World’s Fair in New York City, and the small company began to make its mark in the industry!

Over the next five decades, DATTCO continued to evolve and experience significant growth. DATTCO purchased new vehicles, was awarded school bus contracts and developed into several departments to create the full-service transportation company we are today. So much has changed over the years, but our company values and inherent family culture remain to ensure the most important things continue to be our buses, our people, and most importantly, you.

Today, DATTCO is New England’s top bus dealer and leader in vehicle service, including fleet, collision, and trailer repair services.  Its motor coach division specializes in providing personal and group travel services and operates several routes for the discounted intercity bus service Megabus. The school bus division services 27 school districts, running 1300 school buses to transport more than 110,000 students each school day.  Additionally, Thermo King Northeast, a dealer of Thermo King products and parts, is a subsidiary of DATTCO. 

How have you seen the TDM (transportation demand management) industry change?

There are many new mobility modes being tested and introduced that are shaping the (future of the) transportation industry. In terms of bussing we are seeing competition from every angle; growing inter-city service, crowd-sourced busing, new equipment that is better appointed, and more tech-friendly than buses have ever been, and environmentally-friendly buses. All this has created a new focus on customer satisfaction. Technology, like apps that provide schedules, ticket purchasing and access to real-time information is important to consumers, and more transportation companies are starting to invest in this. But, the right drivers will create a pleasant experience that keeps customers coming back to your brand. DATTCO places a high level of importance on hiring the right drivers.

The industry is also seeing a surge in support from local and federal agencies to make transportation more accessible, easier to use, environmentally friendly and sustainable. This is having a positive impact on companies like DATTCO, and municipalities across the country, and will continue to for the foreseeable future.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 10 years?

We are starting to see a very bus-friendly generation emerging into the transportation market. More students, young professional, and inter-city travelers are turning to, and depending on group transportation to get them where they need to go. Inter-city service, like Megabus, and fixed-route commuter lines are becoming more popular with this demographic. Bus travel is becoming “cool” again.

There seems to be a shift of folks choosing not to own or drive cars, opting for more on-demand travel options and first- and last-mile transportation options (be it shuttles, bikes or scooters!) to and from the bus (or rail) station. Public transit agencies are starting to consider, and in some cases, form partnerships with ride-hailing companies, in hopes of improving connectivity and ridership. We are even seeing more public transit agencies shifting away from fixed route options to on-demand options in low density areas, or during off-peak times. On-demand shared transit providers are providing a reliable, convenient service in areas where public transit options have been cut. These two forms of transportation are growing in rapid fashion because the demand is increasing rapidly, and the momentum is not slowing down any time soon.

Of course, as these new transit options grow, technology will continue to pace that growth and support these services.

What keeps you motivated?

For me, having two boys in the business, learning every aspect of the company, so they can carry the torch for a 3rd generation keeps me extremely motivated. The family-like culture we’ve cultivated over the decades has made DATTCO the successful operation it is today. Our employees feel like family because we treat them like family and they are dedicated to going above and beyond to get their job done, exceed our clients’ needs and contribute to our success. Seeing this hard work happening in all our facilities keeps me motivated.

What has been the most fulfilling moment in your career?

DATTCO is a family owned business; even though the company has grown and diversified so much we remain a family owned business and haven’t lost that touch with our employees. Watching employees grow and succeed with our company is incredibly most fulfilling for me. To see them improve their lives, and make a positive impact on their families, to be able to purchase their first car, or first home and share these milestones with their DATTCO family is very impactful. To watch as someone starts their career with us as a school bus driver and climbs the ranks through management and even into upper management over the years, and then brings their kids into the business to follow in their footsteps is very rewarding for me. My sons, the 3rd generation, will continue this tradition and ensure DATTCO remains focus on family.

What is a great piece of advice you have received? Have you put it to use?

A friend of mine once said if you make two out of three business decisions correctly you are way ahead of the curve. Don’t be afraid to take chances; and don’t be too disappointed when you have failures.

As a sports fanatic, I can relate this to baseball – if you make an out two of the three times you are doing really good!

Any additional thoughts to share?
Now is an exciting time for TDM because technology has created so many new tools and so much more data to help us do the job better.

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