Dousman Transport Co., Inc. was founded in June of 1962 by Robert W. Southcott, after he had purchased the assets of a bus company started in the late 1940’s by Edwin and Helen Ortmann in Dousman, Wis.
Those assets included 24 buses, the oldest of which was an International Harvester dating back to 1946. The bus company was located at S2005 Main St. in the Town of Ottawa, but after it was annexed to the Village of Dousman the new address became 313 S. Main St.
Dousman Transport transported students to the Waukesha and Oconomowoc School Districts until 1967. In that year, the Kettle Moraine School District was formed and Dousman Transport was chosen as its student transportation provider. Dousman Transport also transported students for Summit school in the Oconomowoc School District and for Prairie View School in the Mukwonago School District.
In 1978, Robert Southcott teamed up with Robert Santo and purchased the assets of Oconomowoc Transport from Ione Kerr. Oconomowoc Transport then purchased the Summit School routes from Dousman Transport.
The 1970’s and 1980’s were years marked by fuel shortages, increased enrollment and changes in the laws that transformed Dousman Transport for the years ahead.
During the oil embargo in the 1970’s the company switched to running the buses on LP (liquefied petroleum) gas. It was not always successful; during cold winter months, the fuel lines would sometimes freeze and the bus would have to be towed back to the garage and placed inside to thaw. In the early 1980’s, Dousman Transport started switching to diesel engines and today that is how the entire fleet is powered.
Along with the Kettle Moraine School District, Dousman Transport witnessed tremendous growth in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Subdivisions mushroomed throughout the district and with the increase in population, routes were added yearly.
Due to changes in state and federal law, special-needs transportation was also added during those decades. Originally special-needs students were transported in station wagons and vans. As special education evolved, laws were changed to create equalities, which required these students to be transported in school buses equipped with wheelchair lifts and, in some cases, with attendants for students.
For the Mukwonago School District, the buses were either parked at the homes of the drivers or at Bill’s Service in North Prairie. Bill was invaluable in those early years. He would go out early on cold winter mornings and start the buses for the drivers.
However, with the expansion of Bill’s service station, space for the buses was running out. In 1992, a lot was purchased in the North Prairie Business Park and a parking shed for 19 buses was built. A construction trailer was parked in one of the stalls and the manager worked from the trailer until the new terminal was built in 2002.
After the new terminal was constructed, maintenance of the school buses shifted from Dousman to North Prairie. The Dousman facility, constructed in the 1940’s to house 36- and 48-passenger buses made it difficult for mechanics to work on the newer 72-passenger buses. Their increased length and height made it impossible for some buses to fit inside the building.
In October of 1988, Dousman Transport was sold to Magda Dimmendaal and more growth was in the offing.
Dimmendaal, a native of Holland, had immigrated to the United States in 1963. Dimmendaal started out as a driver in 1973, then driver trainer, manager and finally vice president before buying the company from Mr. Southcott, who wanted to retire because of his wife’s deteriorating health.
When the company was looking for a new logo, she asked the drivers for suggestions and Sharon Vanous designed the DTC logo and a windmill was placed in front of it to reflect Dimmendaal’s roots.
Arrowhead Area Schools, unhappy with the quality of service from its transportation provider, requested bids in 1996 and Dousman Transport was awarded the contract for 40 buses in late 1996. This almost doubled the size of the company overnight.
Ground was broken for a new terminal in North Lake on April 16, 1997 and with lots of help, the first day of school was a huge success even though the offices were not finished and the manager and the mechanics had to share the repair shop for the first few weeks of school.
Today Dousman Transport safely transports approximately 30,000 students over 20,000 miles each school day. None of this would be possible without all of the dedicated and caring employees that Dousman Transport has had throughout the years!