Customized minibuses instead of off-the-rack

Interview with Iddo Verweij, CEO of the Tribus Group

Tribus - Electrically powered bus with lift for wheelchair users
Sustainable and comfortable: Electrically powered bus with lift for wheelchair users

There are off-the-rack vehicles and then there are vehicles from the Tribus Group. The difference? The company from the Netherlands specializes in converting standard models from manufacturers to meet the individual requirements of the users, offering them the optimum in safety and comfort. The experts from Utrecht have a quarter-century of experience and with their expertise, always find the right solution for their clients.

“When a customer comes to us, we first sit down with them and ask about their specific wishes,” says Iddo Verweij, founder and CEO of Tribus Group. “We then advise the customer and provide recommendations to offer them the best possible solution. 70 to 80% of a vehicle usually meets the general requirements, but we customize the remaining 30 or 20% to the special wishes of the respective customer.”

The best possible solution for the customer also includes the free choice of the vehicle brand. Brand-independent, Tribus offers individual solutions for vehicles from Mercedes-Benz, VW, MAN, Ford, Fiat, Citroen, Peugeot, Renault, Opel, and Nissan. Different variations are possible for later upgrades. This way, the client can obtain the complete vehicle tailored to their wishes from Tribus. They can also provide the vehicle themselves and have it converted by Tribus.

Iddo Verweij, Managing Director of Tribus Group
Iddo Verweij, Managing Director of Tribus Group

“In addition, we supply components manufactured by us to specialized conversion companies,” explains Iddo Verweij. “These can be system floors or seats under our own brand 'TriflexAIR', kits for low entry or for interior linings, steps and ramps or wheelchair lifts.” Tribus now also supplies fully equipped minibuses for transporting wheelchair users or for use in local public transport with electric drives.

Corporate building of Tribus in Utrecht
Market leader in the Netherlands, active in 35 countries: Corporate building of Tribus in Utrecht
Tribus wheelchair buses with electric drive are trending
Increasingly in demand: Wheelchair buses with electric drive are trending

In demand worldwide

Together with the former technical managing director Herman Rigterink, Iddo Verweij founded Tribus in 1998. From the beginning, the focus was on the custom conversion of minibuses up to an allowed total weight of 3.5 tons. Success was not long in coming, buildings were rented and later bought. Capacities were repeatedly exceeded, and even at the current location, space is becoming tight again.

Today, the company has 65 employees and a turnover of 30 million EUR. The shareholders are the two founders and the commercial managing director Wilfred Wijnands. With a share of 80%, Tribus is the undisputed market leader in the Netherlands. In addition, the company exports to 35 countries worldwide, including Germany, France, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Spain, but also the USA, Taiwan, and Chile. Customers for the complete solutions are transport companies, taxi firms, and social institutions; conversion workshops are supplied with components.

Fit for the future

While the focus of sales activities was previously more on trade fairs, the focus has now also shifted to winning distributors in the respective markets. "In North Rhine-Westphalia, we are also already delivering our minibuses directly to various institutions," the managing director explains. "Furthermore, we have three field representatives who visit our customers. At the beginning of the year, we also hired two new colleagues who are responsible for marketing and data analysis."

Tribus TriflexAIR 2.0
For safe transport: The fully integrated flooring system TriflexAIR 2.0
Tribus TriflexAIR 2.0
Proven and easy to handle: flooring system TriflexAIR 2.0

But Tribus is also being made fit for the demands of the future in other fields. Iddo Verweij: "In 2024, we aim to switch the production of our minibuses from individual assembly to line production. Furthermore, we want to advance digitalization. We will introduce an ERP system and organize our processes as paperless as possible."

Building dealer networks

Sustainability is also of great importance to the people in charge at Tribus – in operations and in the vehicles. "Seven years ago, we installed 550 photovoltaic modules, which significantly reduced our energy costs," explains the managing director. "In addition, we are currently working on the development of an electrically powered low-floor bus, which has not yet been available on the market."

In general, Tribus focuses on its core competencies: developing new mobility solutions and expanding existing vehicles. The company builds the corresponding prototypes, while production and assembly are carried out by long-term and reliable partners. In the coming years, Tribus intends to significantly expand its export activities, as Iddo Verweij emphasizes: "We want to structure our sales more clearly and build dealer networks: first in Germany, France, and Scandinavia. Moreover, we want to be more visible in the market."