On any given day, 180,000 school buses around the world get routed by technology created by a Missoula company.
Education Logistics Inc. creates software that increases school transportation efficiency and safety for customers all over the globe, including the governments of Saudi Arabia and France. And the firm has been on a hiring spree lately.
Jason Corbally, the president of EduLog, likens the company’s recent moves to a baseball team moving from AAA to the “major leagues.”
“But I tell people all the time that we’re a startup, even though we’ve been around since 1978,” Corbally explains.
What he means is that it's a high-tech software company nimble enough to react to technological advancements, and they are always creating new products and new avenues of growth – meaning they expect to expand at an accelerated rate in the coming years.
Recently, the firm used a national corporate headhunting company to hire eight senior managers with diverse backgrounds in Fortune 500 companies such as Intel, Nike, Panasonic, United Airlines and General Electric. EduLog is also looking to add up to 30 more employees to expand its presence into international markets. Because technology is changing rapidly and more people are transitioning to mobile devices, people expect data at their fingertips.
“EduLog understands the power of technology and has brought in a top team of technology experts from outside the school bus industry to streamline our processes and ramp up our development efforts," Corbally said. "We’re the leader in school bus transportation technology, but we want to bring to our industry the newest advances in technology in other fields. We need to deliver information in useful ways to our clients in school systems."
Corbally understands that every employee is valuable, not just the high-powered executive talent he’s brought on board recently.
“We have to first look at the infrastructure of our company and hire all those executives and management so they can scale underneath them,” he said. “At the end of the day the most important employees are the people doing the work. The managers are the managers, and they need to be there, but making sure there’s a good environment for everyone who’s not a manager, which are always your most important employees, right? That’s what we want to do.”
The firm has developed eight or nine applications for tablets that can be used by bus drivers, for example, to track which students need to be picked up at which stop and if any didn’t get on at the right time. Districts can use the software to eliminate costly buses and save money.
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With developing nations, especially those in Africa, beginning to invest more in education, the potential for growth in the industry is astronomical. And EduLog is positioning itself to take advantage of that.
“Historically it was really only Canada and the U.S. that had the dedicated school bus,” Corbally explained. “In other countries you found your own way or used public transportation. But developing countries are really focusing on education. They're trying to build what is over a 100-year industry here in the U.S. So Africa is going to be a huge area of growth for us.”
The company has roughly 120 employees in Missoula who do everything from software engineering to business development, and another 40 employees who work remotely. They take 20,000 customer support calls every year. They have 1,000 customers, but that number underestimates just how dominant they are in the market.
“Saudi is one customer, but they have 35,000 school buses,” Corbally explained. “We are the software for the entire country. North Carolina is one client, but there’s 120 different school districts. We don’t do a lot of business in Montana. Most of it is done in other states and other countries.”
Corbally said they offer a generous benefits package to their employees to attract and retain the best talent. Over the past year, EduLog has increased its payroll by 20 percent and is spending more than $1 million to renovate its headquarters at 3000 Palmer Street, a historic brick building that was once a sugar beet processing factory. Not many Missoulians may be aware of just how influential the company is around the world.
“The school bus software capital of the world is Missoula,” Corbally said. “Not only because we’re here, but because our competition seems to flock here. But our niche is we don’t have any other competitor that does kind of the full suite of things. We do GPS, student tracking. We have tablets on buses, routing and scheduling, boundary planning, field trip scheduling, fleet maintenance software. We have competitors in all those different areas but no company that does all that. We’re kind of the one-stop shop.”
Corbally, a 31-year-old Butte native, worked his way up the company ladder after starting as an intern. He acknowledges that the company could save money by relocating to a city with better air service because so many employees have to travel frequently. However, he says the quality of life in Missoula is one of the reasons they are so successful.
“This company will never leave Missoula as long as I’m here,” he said. “We are pleased to be able to work with clients globally and keep our operation in Missoula, Montana.”