Entire Meeuwissen family present at Busworld

Entire Meeuwissen family present at Busworld

10 October 2023

The entire Meeuwissen family (father Toine, sons Thomas and Christophe and daughter An-Sophie) is present at Busworld. The male half at Otokar's stand, the female half at VDL's stand. Simultaneously, the family celebrates anno 2023 the 25th anniversary of its company AM Buses, which began as a trade in second-hand buses and coaches and now also imports Otokar for the Benelux countries.

A year and a half ago, Toine's sons, Thomas and Christophe, took over AM Buses. They now face the task of making the transition to electric transport.


So, it all started 25 years ago with a reckless move by Toine. He had been in the bus business for years for the former Bova and decided to start 'for my own'. His initial capital  amounted to  10 million Belgian francs, comparable to about 250,000 euros now. A capital he invested entirely in the purchase of eventually more than a hundred buses that had been used by the former English Rhine Army; old and worn, but he was able to get them at a favourable price.


His wife, Hilde, was not happy about his move and soon saw how the newly started family business was going in the wrong direction. "All my money had been spent on it. But after three weeks, I had already sold 55 of them and earned my first money. Within the year, the start-up costs incurred were recovered and we made a nice profit," Toine says. Today, he keeps contact with the customers of 'his generation' and Thomas and Christophe with the younger generation. And that's going well, Thomas and Christophe agree while smiling.

 "Oh well, I belong to a dying breed and notice that the younger generation communicates with each other in a different way, as an older person you shouldn't want to be involved in  that" Toine says. His sons have clear roles. Thomas is mainly focused on after-sales activities and he is the contact person for sales activities in the Netherlands, while Christophe focuses mainly on sales of new and used buses and coaches in Belgium, Luxembourg and France.



 And then daughter An-Sophie is also active in the 'busworld’, albeit with well-known Dutch manufacturer VDL. The 'buses' are in the family genes. Toine: "I am the happiest person in the world. This year I will turn 72, but I am still at work every morning at quarter to eight. Every morning there is someone who comes over for coffee, just to 'socialise'. You work all day with your family, my wife is often there too, it's a biotope in which I am super happy."


Electrical challenges


 AM Buses is a small family business and with Otokar it has found a strong partner. AM Buses has weathered the past covid years reasonably well.  In 2022, 210 vehicles were delivered, including more than 50 new buses. In the process, AM Buses has built up a solid service network with several service points in recent years. These companies also have online connections to the Otokar parts service. "In case we do not have the required part in stock, we will source it there in a 24-hour service or have it sent directly to the customer." More than 600 Otokars are driving around on Belgian, Dutch and Luxembourg roads. Pater familias Toine Meeuwissen doesn't seem to be unhappy about it.


"These were strange and difficult years, but we coped  quite well under the new leadership of Christophe and Thomas. It has taught us that a small and healthy company certainly has its place in this market if it is approached flexibly and with an open mind" Toine says Now hopes are pinned on the electric variants, and Otokar now also has a fuel cell bus, on display at Otokar in hall 5, stand 505b. Thomas: "At Busworld Europe this year, a new range of electric school buses will be presented, which will then also become available shortly afterwards. We can then supply all models electric, we can then supply all models electrically, including midi buses from 7.70 metres to the 13-metre models."