Rolling V: Moving Forward, Family First

January 9, 2017

Maintaining a positive and effective corporate culture is essential for success in our always competitive, ever-changing financial market. For transportation company Rolling V, creating a successful corporate culture for employees relies on a time-tested system: family values. With business roots that trace back more than 50 years, Rolling V's President, Phil Vallone, and Vice President, Linda DeSabato, rely on a family-inspired corporate atmosphere to drive the company toward the future.

Based in the Catskills, Rolling V is a multi-channel transportation company that provides full-service school bus, and charter bus services for the area, as well as New York City. With outstanding customer service, community involvement, and numerous accolades, Rolling V is trusted for its commitment to safety and dependability. While the company’s major service is offering school bus transportation for students, Rolling V has ventured into other services, including motor coach charters, handicapped adult transportation and park-and-ride services.

Before the creation of Rolling V, Vallone and DeSabato’s father, Eddie Vallone, began working in transportation in the 1940s, continuing his career until the 1970s when he sold his business, Pioneer Transportation. Vallone himself began working at 17 at a family-owned deli, starting his career in the bus business in 1979 with DeSabato and their brother, Eddie, with just 10 school buses. Since then, Vallone and DeSabato have been successful business partners, managing a team of more than 600 employees while still priding themselves in creating an organization with family values in mind. The company also acquired two other regional transportation companies, Gershowitz Transportation in 2006 and SuperTrans in 2015, doubling the Rolling V company size and increasing the business exponentially.

Rolling V is a member of the New York School Bus Contractors Association and the American School Bus Council, and is now often recognized in the area for its outstanding safety records, including being ranked in the top 10% of carriers in New York by the New York State Department of Transportation. The company has also sponsored an interactive teen driver safety course called “Alive at 25,” which began in 2007 as a way to honor two Livingston Manor teens killed in a car accident. The program continues to promote safe driving for teens and makes a difference in the community and within six school districts.

“Many people don’t realize that putting their child on the school bus is the absolute safest way of transportation to and from school,” says Vallone. “The timeless yellow school bus is far and away the safest way for your kids to travel, and we back up our services with the highest level of safety and exemplary customer service.”

Keeping Doors Open for Maximum Growth

When your company involves hundreds of people, finding a way to keep team members connected and motivated can be a challenge. For Rolling V, many of these employees are on the front lines of the business, interacting with clients directly while being responsible for the safety and transportation of adults and children. To help employees feel like family, Vallone insists on an open-door policy to hear any questions, concerns, and constructive criticism. Every member of the team is known on a first-name basis, and they are encouraged to speak up with any issues. If policies and procedures demand modification, the team meets and talks about it. Before any changes are made, a management consensus must be reached. Vallone and DeSabato also encourage employees to grow within the company structure. Opportunities are provided for employees who work hard and create the best services for clients, and these employees are supported as part of the Rolling V family. Many of the company’s managers—whom Vallone applauds as hardworking and dedicated—began their careers with the company as school bus monitors and drivers. 

Not only are employees brought into the Rolling V family with open arms, but Vallone cites community involvement as essential to the business. Rolling V has sponsored little league teams, employee bowling leagues, and the local Rotary Club and Kiwanis.

“We never forget how we got to where we are,” says Vallone. “Our philosophy is community service and has been that way for 20 years. Any company that relies on its community for survival has an obligation to give back when it can.”

Rolling V also became the first bus corporation to join the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a Weather-Ready Nation Ambassador. This role represents the company’s dedication to its community’s safety and will promote better preparations for extreme weather conditions. As an ambassador, Rolling V works with federal, state, and local agencies as well as privately owned organizations to reduce issues related to climate and water conditions affecting the Catskills Region.

Trusting the Next Generation

Just as Vallone and DeSabato learned tricks of the trade from their father, they have since passed on their business acumen to another generation of Rolling V team members: their own children. Vallone and his wife, Donna, have been together more than 30 years, leaning on each other for support and encouragement. Now their son, Nicholas, and DeSabato’s daughter, Denise, have joined Rolling V. Denise serves as Chief Executive Officer of Supertrans/VP Buses. In fact, Denise was heavily involved in partnering VP Buses, another Rolling V initiative, with schools in the area. Nicholas, meanwhile, also serves as managerial assistant with Supertrans/VP Buses and helped the company acquire Shuttle Bus Plus, a transportation company headquartered in New York City. Clearly, Vallone and DeSabato welcome the next generation of the Rolling V family as the future of the company, encouraging new ideas and fresh ways to continue to improve services. 

“A lot of our company’s growth will depend on what the next generation and their management teams want to handle,” says Vallone. “The sky is the limit, and we are blessed to have our families involved in the company we have spent our lives building.” 

For more information about Rolling V, visit rollingv.com.

Onward and Upward

Earlier this year, Rolling V opened sister company VP Buses and completed a major acquisition of another regional transportation company, SuperTrans, through a partnership with Sterling National Bank. VP Buses services Whitestone as a private yellow school bus service for students in the area. Through the SuperTrans acquisition, VP Buses will also serve Horace Mann School and Riverdale County School in the Bronx.

"There is not an opportunity we pursued that Sterling National Bank could not help us achieve," says Rolling V President Phil Vallone. "Sterling National Bank has always grown and changed for the better, just like our family and our company. They've helped Rolling V meet every one of our challenges."

The Importance of Early Adoption

While some companies shy away from the beta stages of new technology, Rolling V has never feared trying new techniques to better the business. In 2009, Rolling V was the first school bus company in the area to utilize GreenRoad, now the world's leading provider of comprehensive driving behavior measurement. GreenRoad uses in-vehicle feedback from drivers in real time, allowing companies such as Rolling V to know exactly how their drivers are performing. This service helps drivers improve almost immediately, leading to better outcomes and safer situations for children on their way to and from school. The technology has been known to reduce crashes in commercial fleets by up to 50 percent while also significantly reducing fuel cost.

Since implementing GreenRoad, 42 of Rolling V's school bus drivers have been awarded the GreenRoad Fleet Elite memberships for excellence in driver safety. These awards are the highest honor bestowed by GreenRoad and recognize drivers with at least 500 driving hours and an annual driving score of five or less (based on a system of one to 50, 50 being the riskiest driver).

In addition to the adoption of GreenRoad, Rolling V has also received a $60,000 grant from the National Clean Diesel Campaign to integrate vehicles with higher fuel efficiency into their fleet and retire vehicles not performing at environmentally friendly standards. This grant is supported by the federal Diesel Emissions Reduction Act and will assist Rolling V in meeting and exceeding National Highway Traffic Safety Administration emission standards. Rolling V was also the first company in Sullivan County to use a propane-powered school bus, which is supported by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as a cleaner fuel than gasoline. President Phil Vallone and Vice President Linda DeSabato have long believed in providing clients with the most efficient vehicles possible, and this grant allows them to further this mission and the company's commitment to innovation.