An Elkhart-based RV manufacture is putting a new spin (literally) on career- and college-readiness.
It all started when Renee Cocanower, director of secondary education at Concord Community Schools, started thinking about building a new facility on the Concord campus that would provide a place for students and their parents to discover career pathways, college options and learn financial responsibility.
When Terry Minix and Mike Schoeffler, the partners behind Embassy Specialty Vehicles, learned of Cocanower’s vision, the wheels started turning in their heads.
“The bus is based on a program in San Antonio, Texas, where they were offering those services in a mobile trailer,” said Mike Shoeffler, who co-owns Embassy. “That way, it can go to events and go to different schools. On a bus, we can reach even more students with the message that there are alternatives to four-year colleges and to educate students on finances, debt and more.”
Embassy specializes in building custom Class B motorhomes that incorporate unique design requests (recent projects include an on-the-go dress boutique and an RV that can transport a monkey organ).
Putting a classroom on wheels sounded like a fun project for Embassy, so the team go to work on designing and building the Careers Unlimited Bus for Education (CUBE). The vehicle is a partnership between the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, Concord Community Schools, Elkhart Community Schools, Horizon Education Alliance and the Lilly Endowment.
The 40-foot learning center can accommodate 30 students (and even incorporates a powerful air conditioner to account for all those sweaty teenagers). The bus includes a wheelchair lift, a computer storage cart that doubles as a podium and a desk for each student.
As he does with all his projects, Minix put thought into every detail – he even designed a drop-down flooring panel that covers the bus stairs so instructors wouldn’t take a tumble (even though the students might get a kick out of that).
Minix said the Elkhart County manufacturing community came together to make the project a possibility, as many of the components were donated from local partners. A donated television and awning hang on the outside of the CUBE, making an outdoor classroom possible.
The bus is expected to reach more than 7,500 students in Elkhart County in 2020.
And because Embassy vehicles are meant for durability and built with marine- or airline-grade materials – many units don’t contain wood, so customers never need worry about rot or decay — the CUBE is expected to reach thousands more in years to come.
“The quality story has always been the biggest part of anything we’re trying to tell,” Minix said. “The fact that it is built better because it is thought through better. We’re taking something simple and totally revolutionizing it. We’re making it easier to use and making it last longer.”
Embassy Specialty Vehicles
Embassy: Where integrity meets craftsmanship for something genuinely different. In addition to building custom Class B motorhomes (passenger vans that convert to mobile living spaces), Embassy specializes in building mobile surgical units. The company has been making surgical instrument repair units for nearly three decades, which park outside of medical facilities and maintain hospital equipment (which keeps the dust out of the patient areas). Embassy has also recently created the first-ever medical pathology vehicle, which can analyze biopsies on the spot (so, no more waiting anxiously for test results from the lab).
2933 Thorne Dr.
Elkhart, IN 46514
“The quality story has always been the biggest part of anything we’re trying to tell. The fact that it is built better because it is thought through better. We’re taking something simple and totally revolutionizing it. We’re making it easier to use and making it last longer.”