By Karen A. Iwamoto
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Ground Transport Inc. is expanding its operations to Maui and looking to hire about 100 new employees on the Valley Isle - Where the recent closing of the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. plantation has left many looking for new employment.
The company secured a school bus contract with the state Department of education to service public schools in Kahului, Kihei, Wailuku and Lahaina beginning in the fall.
Not only does Ground Transport cover school bus Transportation but it also operates special education vehicles, and thus employs aides, mechanics, dispatchers and are done with the utmost sense of aloha.
The company’s president, Louis Gomes, said he’s looking for team players who are professional, patient, reliable, responsible and dedicated to holding safety standards above all.
“ The most important thing we want to instill in all our employees is safety,’’ Gomes emphasized.
“I always tell my employees to think about what we’re transporting,’’ he explained, “Parents are looking to (drivers) to take care of their children. That’s a lot of trust.”
To attract the right employees, Ground Transport offers driver-training programs and covers the cost for school bus drivers to get their commercial divers licenses and passenger and school bus endorsements.
Experience in the field is an asset but not a necessity, Gomes sad, adding that he has hired people from all walks of life and watched many of them flourish.
“We’ve had retirees who want some extra income, grandmothers who never thought they could drive a bus,” Gomes said, “We’ve had a college student who was able to drive in the mornings, go to her classes and then drive again in the afternoon. We’ve had people who were interested in working with special-needs children who became aides (in the company’s special education vans). “
Although drivers are not full-time employees, Ground Transport still offers them paid vacation and holidays, profit-sharing options and competitive pay, because finding the right staff is priority, Gomes said. School bus drivers must pass a criminal background check, a driving history check and maintain a clean driving record, among other requirements.
But Gomes said he also believes that for the right person, even with the challenges, the job offers rewards beyond what can be measured by a paycheck.
Many of Ground Transport’s drivers bond with their student passengers. In Hawaii’s close-knit community, it’s not uncommon for students to refer to their driver as “uncle” or “auntie,” and for a rapport to develop over the course of a school year.
“A lot of our drivers get attached to the kids,” Gomes said. “They take it as if they’re their own family.’’