Collin Peterson knows firsthand how nice metro transit buses built by New Flyer of America are. The condominium the longtime U.S. Seventh District Representative in the U.S. House calls home when he's working in Washington, D.C. is located next to a bus stop, he told New Flyer administrators during a visit to Crookston's two New Flyer facilities on Tuesday.
"I see New Flyer buses all the time, and the people just love them. They say they're the best buses the city has ever had," Peterson said.
The Detroit Lakes resident is being challenged for a second time in the election by Republican Lee Byberg loves New Flyer of America buses, too. "The old buses were so noisy they used to wake me up all the time when they went by," he said during a tour of Crookston's New Flyer final assembly plant, which currently includes more metro transit buses being assembled for Washington, D.C. "Now, the New Flyer buses don't wake me up."
Peterson visited New Flyer along with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who's running for re-election and is being challenged by Republican Kurt Bills. Klobuchar's been visiting Minnesota manufacturers and other businesses as part of her "Made in America" tour, which brought her Tuesday to Crookston, where she toured New Flyer's final assembly plant as well as the New Flyer Express facility, also located in Crookston's industrial park.
"These buses are the biggest thing I've seen so far," Klobuchar said during the tour, adding that she's seen everything from purses made in Duluth to Spam made by Hormel in Austin.
If the nation's economy is going to keep any momentum going on its recovery path, Klobuchar said it's going to be due to businesses like New Flyer of America, that employ skilled workers and make quality products. "We need to focus on making things in America again, and New Flyer is a great example of what we're capable of. The technology on these buses and their energy efficiency, it's the future on display right now," she said. "Just churning money can't be the driving force of our economy; we have to make things."
New Flyer has had its ups and downs in Crookston, as the economy has boomed, and then busted. Shortly after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, New Flyer's Phil Sprague told Klobuchar, the Crookston manufacturer produced only 10 finished buses in a typical week. Now, on average, 18 buses roll off the final assembly line each week. In addition to Washington, D.C., some of the destinations for the buses currently on the assembly lines include New York City, Vancouver and California.
"New Flyer is an example of a company that has hung in there during difficult economic times, and emerged as a strong, important provider of jobs and quality products," Klobuchar said.