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Meet Raymond J. Melleady!
Raymond J. Melleady
Managing Director, North America
Member, APTA Board of Directors, Business Member Board of Governors and Bus Operations Committee; co-chair, Business Member Legislative Committee
Please describe your organization’s scope.
The USSC Group of companies employs 850 people. The company includes four divisions: USSC (United States Seating Company) manufactures heavy duty operator seating for various markets, including public transit bus and rail, locomotive, fire truck and ambulance. 4ONE passenger seating is a joint venture between USSC and Freedman Seating in Chicago. This division designs and manufactures passenger seating and ADA securement solutions for the heavy duty transit and coach markets. FMNA (Fogmaker North America) designs and manufactures fire suppression systems for various industries, including school and heavy duty transit buses. GSS (Global Seating Systems) is our military seating division that manufactures seating for various military applications, from tanks to joint tactical vehicles.
How long have you been involved in public transportation? What attracted your interest in the industry?
My entire life. My father drove a bus for most of his career and after high school I went to work in the transit industry, fueling and cleaning buses at night for SEPTA in North Philadelphia. I aspired to be a diesel technician and union rules required that I start at an entry-level position. I learned frontline operations as a technician for several years, then progressed through frontline and mid-level management positions prior to moving up to the Capital District Transportation Authority in Albany, NY, where I was the chief operating officer and then executive director. I moved into the private sector in 2010 and continue to advocate for the industry that has given me so much.
The reality is, I began working in transit to feed my family. It was stable work. It didn’t take long, however, for me to recognize the impact that transit and mobility had on people and communities. I also recognized that within the industry, there were very few executives with a maintenance operations background. The people and opportunities in this industry have been tremendous. Where else can a high school graduate cleaning buses on night shift access executive opportunities?
Please describe your involvement with APTA and note what’s rewarding about it.
I have been involved with APTA for 20 years. Some of my affiliations are noted above. As the co-chair of the Business Member Legislative Committee, I work with our members to develop an aggressive legislative agenda that supports transit operations. Having served for so many years on the public side, I encourage a much more aggressive approach with advocacy from a business perspective.
At USSC, we employ hundreds of blue collar, family sustaining manufacturing jobs—many of which are connected to public contracts and transit funding. I view it as my duty to meet with our political representatives to “connect the dots” between public projects and private jobs.
Which APTA benefit or resource helps you do your job, and why?
APTA is a tremendous resource for the industry—from networking to shared perspectives on issues affecting business and mobility. APTA provides a unique central repository for ideas and standards, and it is the association that harmonizes the many voices in transit to create a unified message for external stakeholders.
What do you value most about your industry involvement?
I am very aware of how fortunate I am to work in this industry—the people I have met and know, what I have learned, how I have grown. What I value in my involvement is my ability to give back, to serve, to pay it forward—to do for others what others have done for me.
Aside from my work with industry colleagues, I have advocated for and actively participate in the NTI Rutgers program for maintenance executive leadership, and I am confident that graduates of this program will be future executives at transit properties across North America. There is, and always will be, a shortage of executives who understand operations at its core.
What is unique about your business? What would readers be surprised to learn?
Our company was started in a garage in Conshohocken, PA, by Ulf Hammarskjold in 1989. Ulf passed away this week [Dec. 19, 2016] and I remember him as I answer this question. From that humble beginning, I think people would be surprised to learn that we are the largest transit seating manufacturer in the United States.
Our FMNA division has a major presence in the fire suppression and detection business internationally. Our water mist fire suppression continues to be the fastest-growing segment of our business.
Lastly, we contribute in substantive ways to charities in our community. Our organization and our employees believe in paying it forward.