Company History

A late 1960s Blue Bird bus like the ones first sold at Palmetto A late 1960s Blue Bird school bus like the ones
first sold by Palmetto Bus Sales in 1969
If you ask anyone in South and North Carolina about where to buy a School, church, shuttle, activity or Commercial Bus - Palmetto Bus Sales will surely be the first name you'll hear. That's because Palmetto Bus Sales has been associated with the Bus Business since 1957.

Cliff Whatley, the company's founder, began his career with Blue Bird Body Company back in August 1957. Blue Bird was starting to manufacture its own bus heaters and this was Mr. Whatley's first assignment. It didn't take long for him to realize that the transportation business would be his career. In 1965 Mr. Whatley had the opportunity to purchase a small automobile dealership in South Carolina. He bought this dealership, sold his home, moved his family to Allendale and formed Whatley Incorporated.

Blue Bird Body Company contacted Mr. Whatley in 1969 to see if he would be interested in representing Blue Bird Buses in South Carolina as their distributor. Mr. Whatley accepted this challenge and began selling buses as well as managing the automobile dealership.

With sales on the rise in South Carolina, Blue Bird approached Mr. Whatley about adding North Carolina to his territory. Again, he accepted and in 1985 Whatley became the Blue Bird representative for South and North Carolina. In 1988 seeing the commercial and church bus market as an opportunity to increase bus sales, Mr. Whatley starting selling specialized buses to fill those needs.

In 1990, Cliff’s son, Paul became president of the company. Over the years the company would go through a few changes. The Chevrolet dealership in Allendale would be sold only to make way for a new automotive dealership in Orangeburg, South Carolina as well as a new and used bus sales facility in Columbia, S.C. In early 2000 Barnie Smith (Vice President of the company at the time) purchased 25% of the bus sales division and a new company was formed to fit under the Whatley Inc. “Umbrella”. This company – Palmetto Bus Sales was formed to handle all aspects of sales, service and parts for new & pre – owned buses. The bus sales offices moved to Columbia, S.C. in late 2000 and in 2003 Mr. Smith purchased the remaining assets of Palmetto Bus Sales. Palmetto Bus Sales is conveniently located outside of Columbia in Gaston, SC. The Columbia location is at 90 Access Road off Interstate 26E at Exit 119. Palmetto Bus Sales is the Starcraft Bus dealer for S.C. & N.C and the Blue Bird Bus dealer for S.C.