Any school bus you see probably came from Middle Georgia

Editor’s note: The following story is part of a feature called Home Grown in which we take a look at the people and products that have made a name for themselves well beyond our Middle Georgia borders.

Globally, if a bus is yellow and carrying students, odds are it was made in Fort Valley and has a bluebird logo on it.

Blue Bird Corporation, originally Blue Bird Body Co., has been making school buses and related transport vehicles since 1927. The story goes that Illinois native Albert Luce Sr. got Ford dealership rights in Middle Georgia following his service in World War I. A friend asked Luce to make him a bus to transport his workers.

Published reports indicate that since then Blue Bird has put more than half a million buses on the road in 60 countries, always with an emphasis on student safety and product quality, durability and serviceability.

Remarkably, an estimated 180,000 of those buses are in current operation. Blue Bird remained under Luce family ownership until the 1990s when it had a number of corporate owners. It became publicly traded in 2015.