After 84 Years, Freeman Bus Ownership Changes HandsPosted: Updated:
In a back room at Freeman Bus Corporation, the history of the company is laid out to see.
Founded in 1935, the business' early competition looked a little different.
"So you had the horse and buggies and I think there was a trolley system going on in and about the same time that we started providing the bus service," said Rob Freeman.
Four generations of Freemans have run the business.
Current owner Rob Freeman says in the mid-2000s, the company was at its peak.
"We had upwards of 215 employees," he said.
But the competition has changed since the company's early years. As bigger companies began to suck up business, Freeman took a hit and lost contracts that had helped it flourish.
The fatal blow was struck last year, when Freeman lost its last major contract - the one it had with the Watertown City School District since the 60s.
Freeman says while his charter bus company, Clarence Henry Coach, is still going strong, it was time for a change.
"It just wasn't something that I felt that I was interested in continuing to pursue," he said.
The new owner, Leif Petterson, has worked with the company as far back as the 90s.
Rob jokes that he might as well be a Freeman himself and without his offer to buy the company, "The business may have folded the business may have gone bankrupt, who knows."
"The opportunity's right. This is an important community business. It's been here for 80 years. The plan is to stay here for a few more decades and do a good job for the community," said Petterson.
Petterson says he intends to keep on all of Freeman's current employees.
As for Rob Freeman, he says it's time to move on from Watertown and find something new to work on.