Mike Nolte understands the tremendous responsibility of our business and the trust parents place in us to safely transport their children. As Region Maintenance Manager (RMM) for the Southwest Region, he works to ensure our buses are maintained to the highest standards. “My family inspires me,” says Mike. “I would never want my grandchildren to be afraid to ride the bus for any reason. It gives me great peace of mind every day to know that the work my team does helps provide our students and drivers with a safe ride to and from school.”
Never Turn Down an Opportunity
Mike has more than 45 years of experience in the transportation industry. He entered the field as a bus washer when he was just 15 years old. He went on to become a technician, a shop manager and eventually moved into more senior leadership roles in fleet management. He joined First Student in 2011. “Over the years, I never turned down an opportunity,” shared Mike. “I never imagined it would lead to where I am today.” In his RMM role, he currently oversees fleet maintenance for more than 4,400 school buses at 38 First Student locations in four states. Fix the Small Stuff
The cornerstone of an effective fleet maintenance program is preventive maintenance, which minimizes breakdowns, capital costs and inconvenience. Mike believes our program ensures our students are riding a safe, secure bus while also providing cost efficiency and reliability. “Never put off fixing the small stuff,” says Mike. “Small issues can become large issues, which not only result in higher costs to correct, but also put students, school districts and drivers at increased risk.” Mike is skilled at managing to technicians’ strengths and weaknesses. He understands that ongoing training will improve a technician or shop skillset, and that this translates into a safe and reliable vehicle.
Mike has received important industry certifications from major transportation leaders such as International Truck and Engine Corporation and Thomas Built Buses. He is also a member of several professional organizations, including Global Fleet Associates. “You’re never too old to learn,” believes Mike. “It’s important to engage with industry organizations to develop and share best practices so school buses remain the safest way for children to get to and from school.” Mike was also honored with a top award from the National School Transportation Association (NSTA). He received a Golden Merit Award in 2015 for his contributions to the school bus industry.
Mike credits great mentors for helping him advance in his career. “The industry has become family,” says Mike. “We have the most dedicated people in any business. They work hard and put in a lot of hours every day to ensure student safety.” Without this commitment, First Student would not be the industry leader. It’s people like Mike who help drive the company forward.