When a business reaches the century mark, there are certain values that make the milestone possible.
For Prevost, the company’s longevity is rooted in its founder Eugène Prévost and his dedication to innovation, craftsmanship, quality and performance.
“My grandfather started the business in 1924 and we still have the same culture he implemented. We pursue quality and approach things with a customer mindset because we view our customers as our partners,” said Marco Prévost, a product manager who has worked for Prevost for 25 years.
The involvement of the Prevost family is another element of the company’s success. Each generation has been part of the business.
But the family connections don’t stop there.
In Sainte-Claire, Quebec, where Prevost began and where its manufacturing facility is located, family members are proud to work together – mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, husbands and wives.
There’s also a family element on the customer side. Many tour operators are family-owned businesses that have been aligned with Prevost for decades.
“Family is a thread that’s engrained in Prevost,” said Prevost President François Tremblay.
“When you have a sense of be-longing, it elevates everything you do because there’s a commitment that goes beyond the day-to-day mechanics of business.”
Founded in innovation
In 1924, Eugène Prévost was working to save his business in the midst of a global downturn. To ensure his woodshop continued to operate, he devised a system of hydraulic turbines and batteries to generate much-needed electricity. His business survived and he soon took a custom order that would change the trajectory of his life and the village of Sainte-Claire.
From the company’s first wooden body coach mounted on a truck chassis, Prevost grew into a full-scale business that was able to weather tough times and expand – even while other North American bus manufacturers faltered.
In 1957, industrialist Paul Normand acquired the company and renamed it Prevost Car Inc. Extensive market and technical research resulted in a variety of tentative models: the Le Normand, the Travelair and the Panoramique.
In 1968, Andre Normand, son of Paul Normand, took the reigns of the company and what followed was the development of some of the most iconic models that are the base of what Prevost still offers today.
One of the next advances was the H5-60 articulated bus that quickly became an icon.
“The H5-60 was an engineering and marketing masterpiece because it was completely different than anything else on the road,” said Brian Annett, a second-generation family member who is president of Annett Bus Lines.
Growth amidst change
In 1995, Prevost Car was jointly acquired by Volvo Bus Corporation and Henlys Group plc. In 2004, Volvo became the sole owner and the company set a new standard with its space-saving multiplex system. Two years later Prevost launched the X3-45 with the longest wheelbase in the industry and the largest overall under-floor storage capacity.
In 2011, Prevost Aware adaptive cruise braking and the X3-45 commuter coach debuted in the market. The company also took over the market leader position.
Significant innovations continued. In 2017, Prevost was the first to offer an electric fan drive system as part of its electrification plan. eMirrors were offered to improve driver visibility and exclusive Cloud One seating delivered better ergonomics and more passenger comfort.
In 2023, Prevost unveiled its next generation H3-45 with increased fuel efficiency and industry leading interior design improvements. The updates wowed customers who quickly placed their orders.
Generations of customers
Since Prevost has a culture of commitment to its customers, the company has relationships that date back decades.
New York-based Hampton Jitney has been using Prevost coaches since 1985, starting with Le Mirage XLs.
“Working with Prevost, we’re able to deliver a luxury coach that meets the high standards of our affluent customer base and elevates us as a company,” said Geoff Lynch, president and owner of Hampton Jitney.
Another long-standing customer is Florida-based Annett Bus Lines. In fact, Hampton Jitney and Annett Bus Lines both recently added H3-45s to their fleets.
“In our business, if you aren’t dependable, you aren’t anything.
Prevost has helped us become one of the premier charter companies in the country. Their brand is our brand, and we ride for the brand every day,” said Annett.
Generations of employees
For 100 years, Prevost has been based in Sainte-Claire. Today, the company operates a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and has nearly 1100 employees, with more to come as we will be ramping up to 4 vehicles a day in 2024. Within the small town, it’s common for multiple family members to work at Prevost.
Mom Isabelle Marcoux and daughter Alexia Labrecque are just one example. Marcoux is a human resource professional and Labrecque is an assembly technician.
“Prevost is a highly respected company and you have a sense of pride working here,” said Labrecque. “In the plant, there’s trust and collaboration and those are important values that drive success for the product and for employees.”
Over the years, Prevost has established itself as an employer of choice.
“It’s not uncommon to see plant and office employees retire with over 40 years’ service, so it’s quite remarkable,” added Marcoux.
Francis Boulet, who’s been with Prevost for 30 years, recruited his brother, Carl, to join the company in 1996.
“When you work for Prevost you’re part of something really special,” said Carl Boulet, regional commercial director central region for Prevost. “Everyone knows Prevost and we’re the one to watch because we’re continually coming up with new technology that keeps the company moving forward.”
A family legacy
Eugène Prévost and his wife Clarisse had 10 children and several worked in the family business. Since then, grandchildren and great grandchildren have followed in their footsteps as painters and managers.
“My first day at Prevost was a dream for me. Over the years, the brand has grown and it’s a name that means something and it’s my name. I’m very proud of that,” said grandson Marco.
And, while the past is impressive, the future is even more exciting.
“The next 100 years we’ll continue to be creative and innovative,” said grandson Richard Prévost who has been with Prevost since 2018 as a transport and customs manager. “We’re always going to be building the best coaches because we have the best people.”
This story originally appeared in the EXPO Express, the official publication of the 2024 UMA Motorcoach EXPO.