ElDorado National Kansas continues with quality improvements to the brand
By David Hubbard
Krystal has been on an exciting ride over the last year. It began when ElDorado National Kansas, Inc., Salinas, KS, acquired the brand in October of 2012 and then transitioned to new ownership in July as Thor Industries divested its entire bus division.
Continuing with the dedicated production line the company instituted in December, ElDorado National says it remains committed to rebuilding the Krystal brand, the high-end retail unit that complements the company’s other commercial and transit bus products: the Aerolite, Aerotech, Aero Elite, Advantage and Amerivan lines.
“As before, in this new transition we will continue to ensure ElDorado is by all means building and improving the same bus we started with,” says ElDorado National Kansas President Jeff Montgomery. “Only then can we make any determinations as to what further changes we might want to consider.”
According to Krystal Sales Manager John MacKinney, the first step the company took in rebuilding the brand was to support the need for parts for Krystal buses already on the road.
“We inherited a few thousand retail customers that need us to help them keep their buses running,” MacKinney says. “Because of parts availability from the factory and strong support from local Krystal dealers, operators who have had difficulty maintaining their Krystal buses should see significant improvement in the overall serviceability of Krystal buses, new and old.”
He says operators originally purchased Krystal buses directly from the factory.
“Factory-direct sales offered a few short-sided advantages, but ElDorado has always maintained that a strong local dealer can usually act more quickly than a salesman across the country,” Montgomery says. “We now distribute nationally through our dealer network. In addition to sales, our strategically positioned Krystal dealers can provide finance, local aftermarket service and warranty, as well as a robust supply of parts.”
Some of the most respected retail shuttle bus outlets comprise the nationwide Krystal dealer sales, service and parts network. It includes Capitol Coachworks, Capitol Heights, MD; Creative Bus Sales, Chino, CA; Alliance Bus Group, Atlanta, GA; Nations Bus Sales, Inglewood, CA; Davey Coach, Sedalia, CO; Texas Bus Sales, Houston, TX; Tesco, Oregon, OH; Master’s Transportation, Belton, MO; Absolute Bus Sales, Fayetteville, NC; and Atlantic Bus Sales, Pompano Beach, FL.
“Aftermarket support for the Krystal brand is stronger now because our vendors and dealer network not only work with us in supplying parts, they also assist us on the service of those vehicles after the sale,” says Montgomery. “Krystal operators now enjoy all the benefits of a locally operated dealership.”
Improvements to the Krystal bus
Without altering the styling of the Krystal bus, ElDorado has shifted much of its focus to safety and compliance. According to MacKinney, ElDorado has reengineered the product to meet and exceed the guidelines provided by the FTA, NHTSA, MSBMA and Ford QVM. This includes strengthening the structural integrity of the floor and cage while decreasing overall weight, and completing product testing that may not have taken place before. By adopting a zinc-chromate steel treatment process utilized on ElDorado products, Krystal cages now feature improved protection against the elements in every region of the country.
Further changes to the Krystal product include the ElDorado EP3 heavy-duty electrical system, which lends advantages of an integrated harness in lieu of spliced wires; LED status lights in lieu of fuse checking; and the elimination of solenoids, relays and butt connectors throughout the system. The harnesses are plug-and-play and designed to accommodate all options.
“There is even a smartphone app available to assist in serviceability,” says MacKinney. An added feature of clean install in the electrical system is a new front overhead storage area that now comes standard.”
Additionally, ElDorado adopted an extremely lightweight non-corrosive composite material in the subfloor to lighten the bus.
“Vehicle weight is a major concern for manufacturers and operators,” says Colby Bertrand, project manager for the Krystal product line. “This new floor provides a longer lasting and more stable base with considerable weight savings. We can continue to offer a diverse range of floor plans and still remain compliant with chassis-specified weight ratings.”
ElDorado National conducts road testing on a test track comparable to Altoona. Following this arduous shakedown, the company then puts its buses through a 30-minute water test to address any potential rattles or leaks prior to delivery.
ElDorado has maintained the sizes and models for Krystal buses. They include Ford-based shuttles on the E450 K 22, K24 and K28 models that can accommodate 14 to 26 passengers; the K30 and K33 F550 Shuttles that seat 23 to 32 passengers; and F650 Shuttles, in 36- and 40-foot lengths for 32 to 42 passengers. Krystal continues to offer the K31, K35, and K38 bus models, with capacities ranging from 28 to 40 passengers, on the International TC Bus Chassis.