Tom Van Dusen
Nation Valley News
WINCHESTER – Nothing can force parents into taking stock of their lives more than the death of a child. When cancer claimed son Robert, 26, second oldest of their six children last year, Nanda and Richard Wubs decided it was time to reassess.
Soon after, they began negotiating with mega school bus operator First Student for the sale of Wubs Transit, the couple’s profitable 17-year-old company with 29 buses and close to 50 employees. With the deal completed Sept. 18 after seven months of talks, the buyer acquired the rolling stock, routes and charter company.
There was an appropriate send-off involving Wubs appreciative staff, all of whom at Nanda’s insistence were retained by the new owner. It was a horn-honking bus convoy with drivers bearing flowers.
“They were the greatest bosses,’’ said employee Pat Whitteker. “They made us part of their family.”
Calling the convoy an “amazing testimony,” Nanda said of the decision to sell that she misses the people, not the work and responsibility. She managed the transit arm of the couple’s businesses along with Precision Diesel in which Richard is the hands-on partner.
Precision has been retained and, in fact, is doing a little work on former Wubs buses now under new ownership. Using specialized software, Precision has developed a niche for fine-tuning machinery, much of it farm equipment.
For First Student, the acquisition extends its operations in Ontario to close to 40 locations; in normal times, more than 200,000 students ride company buses across the province.
Nanda made it clear that COVID-19 was not a factor in the decision to sell what had become a reputable family business employing oldest son Matt as second-in-command. Talks with First Student began before C-19 kicked in.
While she doesn’t directly attribute Robert’s death to the busy lifestyle, she felt that Matt should have a more relaxed future than taking over the transit company with all the challenges it entails. Matt is involved with Precision and with another company under the same administration founded by Nanda’s brother Mike, No Limits Auto Parts.
“It was really a family decision to sell the transit part,” she said of the operation that began with five buses serving a private school. “It was about how our time was being spent. The value just wasn’t there.”
Winding down for Nanda has a different meaning than it does for most.
With a total of 10 employees, Nanda is managing Precision and No Limits. She also established an Airbnb house in Winchester this summer and continues to be involved in several charitable causes such as the regional food bank, as an advocate for Community Foodshare, founder and promoter of Women in Business, and she’s helping develop an online shopping site specializing in North Dundas merchandise.
There may or may not be other plans in the works. One thing is certain: Even with the buses gone, Nanda won’t be idling!