Specialty Manufacturing History

Located in Charlotte, NC, Specialty Manufacturing is part of the larger Safe Fleet Bus & Rail family.  The brand is the dominant manufacturer of stop and crossing arms for school buses.  It also manufactures step treads for school and transit bus applications.  To learn more visit www.safefleet.net/busandrail.

1970s
In the 1970s, Specialty Manufacturing, based in Pineville, NC, develops the first stop arm for school buses and becomes the dominate industry supplier.
In 1976, a competitor named Transpec, based in Sterling Heights, MI, launches an innovative emergency escape hatch targeted at bus manufacturers.
1980s
During the mid-1980s, Transpec and Specialty develop a healthy and competitive rivalry.
Transpec is the first to introduce the school bus market to the escape hatch. Meanwhile, the brand launches a new line of energy absorbing bumpers.
Not to be out done, Specialty designs and markets an escape hatch – also targeted at the school bus market.
During this time period, Specialty developed crossing arms.
1990s
By the early 1990s, Transpec launches a stop and crossing arm, primarily focused on the school bus market.
Looking for organic growth opportunities, in the mid-1990s, Specialty develops and launches a bus strobe light.
In 1994, another competitor enters the market place with a line of luggage racks and ceiling systems for school buses.  This is the birth of the Pretoria brand, named after the founder’s hometown in South Africa.
By 1999, the Pretoria brand launches interior florescent lighting and ducting systems for mass transit and coach buses.
2003
Entered transit lighting partnering with the UK’s Invertek.
2004
Launched new floor covering and step tread product line.
2005
Launched first electric door mechanism.
2006
In 2006, Pretoria becomes the first to launch LED interior aisle lighting (industry 1st).
2007
In 2007, Specialty purchases both Transpec and Pretoria.  The name of the holding company of all three brands is SMI Global.
2011
In 2011, SMI Global enters the rail car market with luggage racks and lighting.
2013
During late 2013, SMI Global sells to investment firm The Sterling Group, of Houston, TX.
In 2013, Safe Fleet is formed as the holding company for Specialty Manufacturing, Transpec, and Pretoria, as well as, all other brands in the portfolio.
2014
In 2014, Specialty launched its LED strobe light.
2015
2015, the company will be relocating from Pineville, NC to Charlotte, NC.