Custom Bus

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Custom Denning
IndustryBus manufacturing
FounderStanley Hillsdon
Revenue$80 million (2012)
ParentDunn Group

Custom Bus (previously Custom Coaches) is an Australian bus body builder in St Marys, New South Wales.


Cycle Components Manufacturing Company[edit]

Busabout Wagga Wagga Isuzu LT1-11P bodied in 1994 seen in June 2009
Sydney Buses Volvo B12BLE at Sydney Olympic Park bodied in 2010 seen in March 2013

In 1935 Stanley Hillsdon founded Cycle Components Manufacturing Company (CCMC) in Guildford, having been involved in manufacture of bicycles since 1911. In 1946 the company won the contract to manufacture reversible seats for Sydney's tram system.[1]

In 1955 CCMC successfully tendered to body 125 single deck Leyland Royal Tiger Worldmaster buses for the NSW Department of Government Transport.[1][2] In May 1956 Jack Violet, Hillsdon's nephew by marriage, was employed as Bus Divisional Manager to oversee operations. In April 1958 CCMC bodied their first bus for a private operator, a Leyland Comet for Rowes Bus Service.[3]

Apart from six MAN SL200 and SG192s bodied for ACTION in 1982/82 as part of a contracted included when Smithfield Bus & Coach Works was purchased[4] and 19 Scania K112TR coaches bodied for the State Rail Authority in 1985/86,[5][6] CCMC built bodies exclusively for private operators after the completion of the Leyland Worldmaster contract for the next 37 years.[7]

Custom Coaches Manufacturing Company[edit]

In 1962 control of CCMC passed from Hillsdon to Violet.[1] At some point the business was renamed Custom Coaches Manufacturing Company, upon the suggestion of Kathleen Metcalfe, sister-in-law of Violet and niece of Hillsdon and wife of Ray Metcalfe, another employee, in order to maintain the CCMC initials. In May 1981 the Smithfield Bus & Coach Works business was purchased from the Bosnjak family.[8] Custom Coaches concentrated on bodying buses for the private sector. In 1967 CCMC entered into an agreement with Melbourne bodybuilder WA Newnham & Sons for CCMC to provide frames and other components.[9] CCMC also supplied components to Brisbane bodybuilder Watt Brothers in the 1960s[10] and Perth's Howard Porter in the 1970s.[11][12]

In 1988 CCMC purchased WA Newnham & Sons with the business renamed Newnham Custom.[9] In 1995 a plant was opened at Arundel on the Gold Coast.[1][13] Newnham Custom closed in 2001 with production transferred to Adelaide.[14][15]

In 2000 Australian Bus Manufacturing in Adelaide was purchased.[16][17] It had been formed in 1999 when a consortium of CCMC, Jim Bosnjak and John Hewson purchased the PMC Australia business following the collapse of Clifford Corporation.[18][19] Australian Bus Manufacturing was rebranded as Custom Coaches in 2004.[1]

In 1998, Custom Coaches began bodying buses for the State Transit Authority after a break of over 37 years.[7] By April 2013 over 1,280 had been bodied for the government operator.[20]

In late 2001 Custom Care was established as a bus refurbishment operation.[1]

In 2002, Mark Burgess, a great-nephew of Hillsdon by marriage, became CEO of the company.[21] He, his brother Paul and a long-term business partner, Chris Absalom, completed the purchase of the business from Jack Violet in 2005.[1]

In 2008 production exceeded 400 buses per year, and by 2009 the total number of buses bodied had exceeded 15,000.[1] In May 2010 the Sydney plant moved to new premises in Villawood[22] and in June 2012 the company was purchased by British bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis.[23][24] Custom Coaches was placed in administration in May 2014.[25] On 15 August 2014, the business was purchased back by Mark Burgess and Allegro Funds and the company was renamed Custom Bus.[26][27][28] The Royal Park, South Australia plant closed down in September 2014.[29]

Dunn ownership[edit]

In February 2018, Custom Bus was again placed in administration, resulting in the sacking of 122 staff.[30] The following month, Dunn Group purchased Custom Bus, and in May 2018, relocated its factory to St Marys.[31][32] A year later, in June 2019, Custom Bus completed its 100th bus under Dunn ownership.[33] In September 2019, Custom Bus acquired Denning Manufacturing, but the latter's branding and operations will be retained.[34]

In February 2021 they announced the production of their first electric bus under the Custom Denning brand, the Element, which is now in production.[35]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h A Family Business Of Nephews Custom Coaches 13 October 2011
  2. ^ Travers, Greg (1982). From City to Suburb a fifty year journey. Sydney: Historic Commercial Vehicle Association. p. 113. ISBN 0 959601 62 7.
  3. ^ Fleetline August 1988 issue 157 page 195
  4. ^ ACTION Fleet – Disposals Summary ACT Bus Wiki
  5. ^ "State Rail Orders More Coaches" Railway Digest August 1985 page 234
  6. ^ "State Rail Coach Services – The Vehicles" Australian Bus Panorama issue 9/3 October 1993 page 13
  7. ^ a b "Bus Fleet" Australian Bus Panorama April 1999 issue 14/5 page 44
  8. ^ "The Complete And Utter History of Smithfield" Australian Bus Panorama Vol 16 Special page 10
  9. ^ a b "Industry News" Australian Bus Panorama March 1989 issue 4/5 page 9
  10. ^ Travers, Greg (1979). The Australian Private Bus. Sydney: Historic Commercial Vehicle Association. p. 67. ISBN 0 959601 61 9.
  11. ^ m/o 8093 Bus Australia Photo Gallery
  12. ^ "What is this thing called gen?" Australian Bus Panorama 6/2 1990 page 7
  13. ^ "New Custom Coaches Plant" Australian Bus Panorama June 1996 issue 11/9 page 28
  14. ^ "Newnham to Close" Australian Bus Panorama July 2001 issue 17/1
  15. ^ Customs launches supersite Archived 16 June 2013 at Australasian Bus & Coach
  16. ^ "Australian Bus Manufacturing" Australian Bus Panorama August 2000 issue 16/1 page 18
  17. ^ Custom acquires ABM, UBC set up in Asia Archived 16 June 2013 at Australasian Bus & Coach
  18. ^ "Austral Pacific Group" Fleetline May 1999 page 75
  19. ^ "New Owner for Bus Plant" Australian Bus Panorama June 1999 issue 14/6 page 32
  20. ^ State Transit Authority – Sydney Buses & Newcastle Buses Australian Bus Fleetlists
  21. ^ Customs looks to 2003 with interest Australasian Bus & Coach
  22. ^ Villawood Opening Custom Coaches 26 May 2010
  23. ^ ADL's Acquisition of Custom Coaches Archived 11 April 2013 at the Wayback Machine Custom Coaches 7 June 2012
  24. ^ Bus firm Alexander Dennis in major Australian deal BBC News 7 June 2012
  25. ^ Custom Coaches at Royal Park has been placed in administration with 100 jobs at risk Adelaide Advertiser 30 May 2014
  26. ^ Custom Coaches sold – 120 jobs retained Archived 6 October 2014 at the Wayback Machine Deloitte 18 August 2014
  27. ^ Burgess buys back Custom Coaches Australasian Bus & Coach 18 August 2014
  28. ^ Consortium Announces Purchase of Custom Coaches from Administration Custom Coaches 19 August 2014
  29. ^ Custom Coaches closure in Adelaide means dozens of jobs will go ABC News 18 July 2014
  30. ^ Custom bus sacks 122 Sydney staff after going into administration ABC News 2 February 2018
  31. ^ Custom Bus Premises Vacated; Telfords confirms new production location Australian Bus & Coach 5 April 2018
  32. ^ Mechanic turns bus company full circle Penrith City Council
  33. ^ "Sydney's Custom Bus Group Finishes 100th Bus". Australian Bus & Coach. 12 June 2019. Retrieved 13 June 2019.
  34. ^ "CUSTOM ACQUIRES DENNING; NEW CITY BUS LAUNCH AT BUSVIC 2019". Australasian Bus & Coach. 3 September 2019. Archived from the original on 8 September 2019. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  35. ^ Building the future: High praise for locally based bus manufacturer Western weekender 17 February 2021

External links[edit]