New Mercedes’ Smartliners: A Smart Purchase for St. Mark’s

By Katie Park ‘21

If you have traveled for sports events or field trips this fall, you have no doubt experienced a significant change that has added sparkle to students’ lives: the new Mercedes minivans. A lot of behind the scenes work went into purchasing the vans, and Mr. Kuklewicz, the Chief Financial & Operations Officer at St. Mark’s, walked me through the long process.

“This all started last winter,” said Mr. Kuklewicz. The team that was part of this project included Mr. Vachris, Ms. Kosow, and Mr. Levandowski. They looked at different models including the Dodge, Ford, and Mercedes Benz. They went on test drives last spring and came to an agreement that the Mercedes Smartliner was the best option. Also, the new minivans are all run by diesel engines which are considered to be more efficient than gasoline engines. “That is when we have decided to opt for the Mercedes Smartliner, and we bought four of them,” said Mr. Kuklewicz.

The main reason St. Mark ’s decided to purchase new vans was because the existing fleet was aging. However, the replacement would have never become a reality without the help of various people from the St. Mark’s community. “Frank Hanenberger, the parent of Lukas Hanenberger '19, was instrumental in helping us to arrange test drives with all the dealers,” said Mr. Kuklewicz. The marketing department led by Mr. Cochran was also a huge help in this process, and Mrs. Levandowski was an instrumental person behind the design group. She came up with several designs, and the group decided which was most aesthetically pleasing. “I like the design of the new minivans!” remarked Charlie Rumrill '21.

The new Mercedes vans not only carry athletic teams but also are used for weekends and school field trips. “Ms. Hultin drove one of the new vans when we went on a JCI field trip to the synagogue, and the ride was really comfortable,” said Geetika Surapaneni '21.

“I have heard many positive reactions and last Friday, I heard one faculty member talking about how the teams are really excited for away games now because of the new vans. Also, some faculty members said that the new vans are easier to drive because they feel more like cars,” said Mr. Kuklewicz. The purchasing of the new minivans was indeed a long process, but the one that is worth it.

Some may be wondering what will happen to our old fleet of mini-vans? Mr. Kuklewicz informed the community just this week that Brantwood Camp will be taking two of vehicles that the third bus will be donated shortly after this.

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