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Q&A


All in the Family WRITTEN BY RYAN GRAY


 From left, top row: Barry Taylor; Jodie Hays Bohlen; Jeff Hays, VP of business development; Guy Jukes, VP of national accounts; Brad Jukes; and Kyle Jukes. Third row: Brawly Taylor; Lorri Hays Taylor, service manager; and Terri Hayes Jukes, CEO. Second row: Rider Taylor; Piper Taylor; Jeanie Hays; McKenzie Hayes; and Jake Jukes. Bottom row: Cooper Taylor; Melissa Hays; Tanner Hays; Scott Hays, executive VP; and Riley Hays.


REI EXECUTIVE VP SCOTT HAYS SHARES THE STORY BEHIND 75 YEARS OF THE FAMILY’S TRANSPORTATION ELECTRONICS BUSINESS


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any businesses in the student transportation industry are family owned and operat- ed, including STN Media


Group, which publishes this magazine. Te majority of these companies opened their doors to specifically serve the school-bus niche, either as a supplier, manufacturer or service provider. Sometimes they perform all three functions. In the case of Radio Engineering Indus-


tries, Inc., better known as REI, the company had already been in existence for more than 30 years when it expanded into the school-bus market. We asked company executive Scott Hay to share his family’s story.


SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION NEWS:


From where does REI trace its roots? SCOTT HAYS: REI’s roots are traced


back to our grandfather, Clyde H. Hays. In 1938, he founded REI as a local radio sales and repair store. During World War II, soldiers from all U.S. military branches came to Omaha, Neb., for radio school held at REI to learn how to operate and repair radios used in service. Over the next few decades, REI expanded


32 School Transportation News May 2013


into a national distributor and service center for companies such as Panasonic, Sharp, Sony, Learjet and Delco Electronics. In 1970, Robert E. Hays, my dad, inherited the busi- ness from his father. At that time, CB radios were very popular and helped increase REI’s sales substantially. But in the late 1970s, we di- versified into tractor radios and began making radio kits for the agriculture market. During my dad’s tenure, REI grew into the transpor- tation electronics manufacturer it is today.


STN: How did your grandfather come up with the idea to start the company? How


did you father expand it? HAYS: From my understanding, Clyde saw


a need for radio repair for cars. It was a natural fit to sell radios too. It was a small service company located in Omaha, Neb. Tis was an era when radios were becoming very popular, so business was immediately booming. I was only a toddler when my grandfather passed away. I would have loved the opportunity to know more about our origins. Dad had a knack for identifying a market need and going after it. During dad’s helm, we expanded into agriculture, school bus and commercial vehicles and increased our


manufacturing facilities. As the markets grew, REI grew along with them. In addition to REI, we still had a consumer-electronics sales and repair store as well as the first video rental store in Omaha in the mid-1980s. It was during the late 1970s when REI expanded into the school bus market. By 1980, we were supplying radio systems to all school bus manufacturers in the United States, including AmTran Corp (now IC Bus) Blue Bird Body, Carpenter, Collins Bus, Tomas Built Buses and Wayne. We were able to meet their growing demand for quality audio systems and radios with PAs. It was in the 1980s when we devel- oped even further into the audio/video entertainment systems, particularly in the motorcoach market, where providing an en- joyable customer experience was essential. It was this growth that laid the ground-


work in the 1990s for our school-bus surveillance system called “BUS-WATCH.” As REI evolved, so did mobile video surveillance. Today, we offer software and hardware solutions for mobile video surveil- lance, stop-arm violator reporting, ITS, fleet management and ADS download.


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