Company Profile: Hometown Trolley

Company: Hometown Trolley

Products: The company makes trackless trolley buses for public and private transportation. The buses can operate on several standard or alternative fuels including diesel, gasoline, compressed natural gas, LP and full electric.

Location: Crandon, Wis.

Employees: 18

Founded: Hometown Trolley was founded in 1976 as Lazy N, Inc. Kristina Pence-Dunow, current president and CEO, incorporated the business in 1992 as Hometown Trolley. The company relocated to Crandon in 1993. It is the second oldest maker of trackless trolleys in the U.S.

Leadership: Kristina Pence-Dunow, president and CEO

Operations/Market: Hometown Trolley produces trackless trolley buses for public and private transportation. It currently sells trolleys in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, Central America and South America, and is seeking to expand into Mexico. Several models are available, including a front engine model named the Villager and a rear engine model named Mainstreet. Company executives expect the newest low floor models, the Streetcar and Carriage, will be in high demand for heavy transit areas with major transit agencies and retirement areas seeking ergonomic entry/exit.

Hometown Trolley innovated in creating a trolley bus with the flexibility to operate buses on several standard or alternative fuels including diesel, gasoline, compressed natural gas, LP and Hybrid Electric. Mot recently, it is developing a fully electric trolley, which could position Hometown Trolley as the leading trolley manufacturer in the United States with green technology.

Business Successes: In January, Hometown Trolley was awarded a $2.6 million contract with the City of Alpena, Mich., to build four new fully-electric trolleys over the next two years. In April, the company finished a trolley for delivery to Discovery Coach in Sheboygan, Wis. The company schedules its orders and production as far out as six months in order to maintain operational stability.

Earlier this year, Hometown Trolley purchased an existing 14,000 square foot building and added 6,000 square feet of production and office space. In addition to adding new equipment, the company moved its paint booth from the old building to the new building. This expansion allows the company to cut trolley production time in half.

Wisconsin Business Environment Benefits: “I travel all over the country for business and would not live anywhere else, because it’s a beautiful place to live, and the people here have great craftsmanship skills that you don’t see in a concentrated area,” Pence-Dunow said.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is providing a $200,000 loan to assist with the expansion.

“We outgrew our old building several years ago, and, with our new low-floor models and full electric trolley project, it became clear that to follow through with the growth of our company, our only option was to move into a larger facility to efficiently expand and organize our production process,” Pence-Dunow said.

The company also completed ExporTech in the fall of 2012 and plans to expand sales globally with special focuses on Australia and Mexico.

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(June 2013)