ABC weighs in on how to build a better customer service experience

Over 60 years and four generations in, ABC Companies, a North American leader in the motorcoach industry uses customer-centric processes, supported with focused leadership and industry experience all driven by family values to provide customers a competitive advantage today and tomorrow.

From left: Roman Cornell, Ashley Cornell, and Dane Cornell.


“I’ve had the great privilege of growing up in this business,” said President and Chief Commercial Officer Roman Cornell, “and from a very early age I learned from my grandfather, Clancy Cornell, that selling buses is really about beginning a relationship.”

Over the decades, Cornell (now 43 years old), has walked the halls and shop floors of every ABC location, as well as innumerable customer facilities throughout North America. He still sees many familiar faces from his childhood even today and espouses that his personal connections inform his business philosophy. While training, coaching and mentoring are invaluable he says, they are no substitute for intuition and instinct that comes from decades of frontline exposure in the business he loves! Cornell sees a true advantage in using his history and experience to evolve a customer-centric operation that’s attentive to customer needs today, that also has a sharp eye focused on the future.

Ryhan Cornell, part of the family’s third generation, working at ABC Companies.

Dane Cornell, chief executive officer at ABC Companies plans to continue to empower and mentor his team while passing on the wisdom and institutional knowledge he’s gleaned over 45 years in the bus industry. 

“It is well-known that our family passion for this industry is ingrained,” he said. “When combined with the acumen of our team, who bring a wealth of experience from varied professional backgrounds, ABC is positioned to bring formidable energy and future focus on growing our business through the growth of our customers and beyond”.

Since taking on the added role of president, Roman Cornell notes that he fully appreciates the talent and professionalism of a diverse executive team. 

“The playing field is becoming more complex and challenging for operators each day,” he said. “ABC has been fortunate in attracting and sustaining top-talent with diverse business disciplines.”

Individual perspectives are both valued and shared with the common goal of working toward the best solutions for customers.

Isaac Cornell, a fourth-generation Cornell, learning the ropes.

“We genuinely are customer-driven,” Roman Cornell continued. “And we use every tool in the toolbox to deliver the right fit, to the right customer, every time.”

From reinvesting in the company, to expanding its infrastructure and global supply-chain, as well as developing and launching new product and service offerings, ABC’s focus on continuous improvement utilizes a highly organized team approach, that leverages business intelligence to drive decisions and enhance productivity within the organization – with the overarching goal of delivering a better product to customers.

As tightening regulations, rising insurance costs, driver shortages and industry consolidation are all putting greater pressure on owners, ABC strives to go beyond the traditional OEM role, by proactively helping owners take a deep-dive into their business, examine costs and look for new routes to increased profitability and efficiencies.

“Our customers need to be in growth markets, and that means ABC needs to be located in those markets also,” Roman Cornell said.

“Being geographically available and offering immediate access to ABC products and services continues to be a strategic imperative in our long-term plans,” noted Dane Cornell.

With a number of new initiatives planned for rollout in 2020, ABC hopes to surmount industry challenges by answering the call with high-quality programs that consider the scope and scale of the individual operator and what their specific requirement is today and down the road.

“Flexibility and scalability are key considerations as we design programs for our customers and future markets,” Roman Cornell said. “We are well beyond the one-size-fits-all solution, and if we can help a customer define and identify the variables that can make his business more efficient, productive and profitable, then we can make an impact in a more meaningful, efficient way – one that can bring real-world results that are measurable and repeatable within their operation.”

Customizable support is the heart and soul of customer relationships, according to ABC management. And while the company continues to prove its technology chops with the introduction of Van Hool’s first ever all-electric zero-emission bus, and refreshed Van Hool 2020 CX series lineup, they also want to innovate customer service delivery by reshaping how support services are currently offered in the market.

“Size matters in the market today, and smaller business owners need to have the same advantages as the major players in order to continue to compete,” Roman Cornell said. “We support our entire customer base by giving equal access to critical support when, where and how they need it.”

For example, ABC’s flexible tech service option lets business owners utilize ABC’s staff of certified mechanics and technicians on a long or short-term basis at ABC service locations or their own shops. And, ABC’s Express program makes it faster and easier to purchase and get quick delivery on new, in-stock Van Hool equipment models. Additionally, ABC’s proprietary pre-owned equipment website – featuring one of the largest inventories in North America – gives users a streamlined, easy-to-navigate experience for searching and sorting through inventory selections which are organized and categorized into three distinct pre-owned tiers that meet very specific criteria for available base models, plus models and certified pre-owned equipment.

On the technology front, a new ADAS system, branded ABC RECON is now available exclusively from ABC, and the company is in phase II testing of its ABC Connect telematics and fleet maintenance software offering. The company also continues to invest in its Part Source business, Roman Cornell said. ABC’s in-house engineering team is tasked with identifying and vetting new suppliers on a routine basis. And, the Parts group utilizes cutting edge tools and technology to efficiently and effectively manage its parts supply chain. The system offers high-visibility into the supply chain enterprise-wide so that Parts teams can be more responsive to customers’ needs in real-time, along with the ability to forecast future market needs based on customer historical purchasing data, geographical and seasonal consumption patterns and other key factors.


“The end-game is to improve parts fill rates and expedite more timely deliveries,” Roman Cornell adds. “By continuously expanding our available SKUs, adding new aftermarket products and accurately restocking at all of our distribution points, we can improve customer service while adding value to ABC’s portfolio of products and services.”

He said ABC is eager to support their customer-centric mission via this year’s planned rollout of innovative equipment, advanced technology and a wide array of new programs that tangibly demonstrate its commitment to customer-focused service delivery.

“It truly is formulaic,” he affirmed. “By having talented, dedicated professionals who are focused on creating and delivering high-quality products and services we can go further in addressing customer challenges. We are looking at the bigger picture through the lens of market trends, customer challenges and emerging technology, and that means looking toward the future.”