Schenectady-based Transfinder, maker of bus route logistics software marketed to school systems, earlier this week announced a 27 percent growth in total annual revenue for 2007.
Transfinder President and CEO Antonio Civitella, who owns all of the shares of the 20-year-old private corporation, said his company increased revenues from about $3 million in 2006 to about $3.8 million in 2007. He attributed the growth to four major factors: a greater willingness on the part of school districts to purchase and use technology; higher fuel costs motivating districts to seek more efficient methods of routing its buses; word of mouth from satisfied school districts; and a growing lack of school bus drivers nationwide. “We had a great year last year,” Civitella said. “There’s such a huge shortage of drivers they have to cut the routes because they don’t have enough drivers to drive these routes.”
Niskayuna Central School District Director of Transportation Tom O’Donnell said his district began using Transfinder’s software before he came to the district seven years ago. He said before using the software, creating bus routes was an onerous, inefficient and costly process.
“Routing was done, for years, on a wall map with push-pins and it took so much time and effort. It would take you weeks and weeks and weeks to do the routing. Here you can create a route in a matter of minutes. By saving time, it saves money,” O’Donnell said. “It [also] calculates the time that it takes a bus to get from one location to another, which without some kind of computerized aid you’d be guessing.”
Transfinder Marketing Manager Kathleen Fagan said Transfinder partnered with 146 new clients in 2007 and realized a 25 percent increase in new sales revenue over 2006.
“A good percentage of [our new clients] had just been using string and yarn to route their buses and a smaller percentage of which maybe had been using another software [bus routing system],” Fagan said.
Fagan said Transfinder has stayed away from “one button routing,” an industry term for software programs that route buses instantly without much human input.
“Some districts really do want that, especially the larger districts. What we have stuck to so far is our philosophy that there is no software package smarter than our customers. They’re the ones who know their roads, know their hazards and have their students’ safety most in mind,” she said.
Two software “add ons” that have been well received by some Transfinder customers have been a program that allows parents and school staff to access bus routes online, eliminating many of the calls school district transportation offices have to take, Fagan said.
Civitella said school districts pay an annual fee to gain access to Transfinder officials who will teach them ways to better use the company’s software and best practices for student transportation. “The millions of dollars that we put back into schools each year is huge,” Civitella said.
Transfinder officials said the company’s total number of employees increased by 28 percent from 2006 to 2007. It’s grown from about 11 employees in 2001 to more than 30 today. Civitella said he expects the company to continue to hire more people and said it should have more than 40 employees by the end of the year.
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