Still a family business as it enters its 49th year, Mohawk stands proudly as North America’s premier bus parts supplier to transit and motor coach industries.
Wilbur L. Brown founded Mohawk in 1958 after a long stint as president of the Greyhound Motors and Supply Co., the engineering and manufacturing arm of Greyhound Bus Lines. This division was responsible for providing replacement parts for more than 5,000 buses nationwide, but was disbanded in 1958 as Greyhound reorganized.
Upon the disbanding of this parts division, Wilbur Brown founded Mohawk with John W. Brown (Wilbur’s first son) and Fred Winkler.
Both John Brown and Fred Winkler were also executives with Greyhound Motors and Supply. John Brown was the Director of Purchasing, and so he joined Mohawk with vast knowledge of various suppliers. Mr. Winkler was Director of Engineering, and was instrumental in the design of the Scenic Cruiser buses.
Mohawk opened in Mundelein, IL in April 1958 in partnership with J.E. Hoffman Co., a tool and die company. About a year after Mohawk’s start, Wilbur Brown purchased Hoffman’s share in Mohawk, and the company relocated 30 miles south to the northwest side of Chicago. Mohawk occupied three separate locations there before relocating to suburban Morton Grove in 1972. In 1980, Mohawk moved to a 60,000 square-foot facility on Caldwell Avenue in Niles, IL. This was Mohawk’s headquarters until June of 2001, when the company moved to a building on the corner of Oak Park and Touhy avenues in Niles. This building features 10,000 square feet of office space and 90,000 square feet of warehouse space.
Thomas R. Brown, Wilbur’s second son, joined Mohawk in 1965. His attention to detail, his thoroughness and his hard work were instrumental in Mohawk’s growth and success. He quickly became highly respected throughout the industry, and helped guide Mohawk as Executive Vice President from 1988 until his death in 2000.
In 1967, Wilbur Brown died, and John Brown assumed the position of company president, a position he holds to this day. Fred Winkler retired from the Mohawk Board of Directors in 1988, but he maintained a presence at Mohawk to help transition in the company’s new engineers and advise the Browns until his death in May 2002.
John Brown’s son, Robert, joined the company in 1990. Tom’s daughter, Sarah, came aboard in 1999. Tom’s first son, T.J., became full-time with Mohawk in 2003 after contributing in a part-time capacity for several years.
Mohawk has seven regional technical service representatives covering territories throughout the U.S. and Canada. Their experience and knowledge in the field has helped them serve as effective messengers of Mohawk’s mission of providing quality, service and value.
Mohawk’s success story doesn’t end here. As the transportation world evolves, Mohawk will adapt with it, complying with the requirements of public transit authorities, while still being ready to serve private operators of various sizes.