Mr. Duffy designed his first gasoline powered car when he was 12 years old which is now on display in TI’s headquarters. After graduating with a business degree from the University of Kansas, Mr. Duffy moved to California where he got involved in the rapidly expanding RV industry. He soon purchased an awning company and invented and patented a roll up awning for RVs, which put the company on a fast track to success. That and another RV company he had a stake in both sold in 1973, after which he founded Leisure Components Corporation. After a few good years of producing aftermarket components to the RV, motorcycle, and automotive industries, LCC was sold in 1983.
Soon after, with the purchase of the assets of a bankrupt trolley, bus and tram manufacturer, Mr. Duffy grew Specialty Vehicle Manufacturing Corporation into the largest manufacturer of rubber tired trolleys in the United States. In 1991, Mr. Duffy recognized the benefits of the electric motor for powering urban route type vehicles and redirected the company to develop a product line of electric buses, shuttles, trolleys and delivery vehicles. Although many of those vehicles remain in service today, the nation’s agencies resisted the deployment of this important technology, and in 1999 Don and Newton Montano left SVMC and founded Trams International.