BAB-VIOS coach on the way. Photo: BAB-VIOS BAB-VIOS Touringcars from Wateringen in South Holland will be available from 1 July 1970 88 year. At the beginning of this year, the company added a new Intouro and Tourismo to its fleet, which also includes a Setra double-decker. Director Michel Kortekaas: “We will celebrate our anniversary in September. That is also a tribute to the generations before me, who have poured their soul and salvation into our company.” BAB-VIOS has completed the first century of its existence as a coach company on 1 July, but the company’s original roots go back even further. To be precise until around 1900. At that time, the Lipman family started a bicycle repair company in Wateringen. It grew quickly, after which son Piet Lipman 1900 founded his own bicycle factory under the name VIOS Rijwielfabriek, the acronym of Progress Is Our Pursuit. That name turned out to be a good choice, because there was plenty of progress.
In 1930, Piet Lipman was given the opportunity by the Municipality of Wateringen to operate a bus service in the region. He grabbed that opportunity with both hands. The manufacture of bicycles ceased and the focus shifted completely to transport activities. It was the beginning of a rapid development. Ten years later, in 1930, VIOS had grown into a transport and coach company with a fleet of 30 buses and a particularly beautifully designed ‘Torengarage building’, which now stands as a national monument in the center of Wateringen . The current name of the company, BAB-VIOS, is due to the acquisition of Buitelaars Auto Bedrijf (BAB) in 1951. In 1930, VIOS had already taken over another company, namely the Eerste Dordtse Auto Dienst (EDAD), which later continued independently under led by one of Piet Lipman’s sons. Today, scheduled services are no longer an activity of the company, but what has remained unchanged is the entrepreneurial spirit.
The descendants of Piet Lipman are still working in the company, because current director Michel Kortekaas is married to the granddaughter of founder Piet Lipman. She also works in the company, as do their two sons. Michel Kortekaas explains: “A lot has happened in our long history. For example, at the end of the years 12 VIOS had grown into a particularly successful and large company, but after the Second World War it had to be completely rebuilt. I can say that Piet Lipman and later also his son Jan, my father-in-law, gave everything for the company. I therefore certainly see our centenary, which we celebrate in September, as a tribute to them.”Double Deckers When asked about highlights that come to mind when he thinks about the history of BAB-VIOS, Michel Kortekaas immediately mentions the special bond the company has with double-decker buses. “In 1930 in Rotterdam, Piet Lipman had the very first European double-decker built as a ‘Travel and Sleeping Car’ at the company Lith. which made him way ahead of his time. In 1970 his son Jan repeated that feat again, with the arrival of a Neoplan double-decker bus of 4 meters high. That was the very first post-war double-decker bus on the Dutch road and a major attraction. We still have a double-decker in our fleet. It is really a tradition within BAB-VIOS, which is also very interesting from a business economic point of view. Just think: you can 60 people in our Setra double-decker, while you need one driver. You can cut costs considerably and increase your margin.” There is a nice anecdote attached to the double-decker bus 1970, says Michel Kortekaas: “At that time, that height of 4 meters was quite a problem. My wife then, as a little girl, helped her father to measure all the viaducts in the region, so that it was known where our double-decker would fit under. She didn’t measure that with special measuring equipment or anything, but with a fishing rod. And it worked great!”
Business Model The fact that BAB-VIOS is still a flourishing company after 60 years is partly due to the company’s current business model. It has a strong position in the Haaglanden region, where under the name BAB-VIOS Touringcars it focuses on the one hand on group transport in the immediate region for, among others, the Municipality of The Hague, museums, companies and schools. On the other hand, the company with its brand Hofstad Tours is very active with transport assignments for Ministries, Embassies and other government institutions. Michel Kortekaas: “Our Hofstad Tours coaches clearly distinguish themselves. They are finished in a stately, dark blue color with the Kroon logo and have extra luxurious facilities. As BAB-VIOS and Hofstad Tours, we serve two markets in this way, and with success.” The BAB-VIOS team: Brigitte and Michel Kortekaas and coach drivers René, Jeroen, Cees and Remco. Photo: BAB-VIOS Choice of quality The pillar of the success of BAB-VIOS is also the choice for quality of the fleet, which consists of 18 vehicles. Michel Kortekaas: “All our buses and coaches are from Mercedes-Benz. That is not without reason, because we believe in quality. The production method, the parts supply, the appearance, the quality of the vehicles; Mercedes-Benz simply offers the very best on all fronts. This also applies to maintenance, which we have outsourced to EvoBus. There are never any specifics. An extensive winter maintenance service once a year is sufficient. That says enough.” The most recent additions to the fleet were a 12 meter long Mercedes -Benz Intouro and a 12 meter long Tourismo, which BAB-VIOS delivered early this year. “They are both luxury coaches, but our Tourismo takes the cake with its very rich equipment. Whoever is in it, is really the king too rich.”
As can be read on the BAB-VIOS website, the company has a strong eye for sustainability and the fleet is characterized by its modern, environmentally friendly Euro 6 engines. Sustainability is important to Michel Kortekaas, but the director of BAB-VIOS does have a comment. “Striving for sustainability is a good thing, but it has to be possible at an achievable pace. Now politics and regulations sometimes seem to forget that, so that we as a sector have to make one investment after another. It is important that we can keep up with environmental requirements. As a sector, we have proven to be indispensable in the Dutch logistics model. I hope the government is aware of that.”