Twenty four hours a day……what was my grandpa thinking!?!?
Most people think of family businesses as those quaint little mom and pop shops, restaurants, even certain trade businesses like plumbers and electricians. What in the world is a family owned and operated cab company? How does that start? How does that work?
I want to give you a better understanding of how we started. What brought my sister, my brother, my mother and myself to the place we are today, third generation taxicab company owners.
My grandpa was a stubborn man. He could actually be quite ornery. From what I understand, his father was not much different and had built himself up from a chicken farmer to a lawyer with no formal college education, just dogged determination and a set of law books that he read to pass the Virginia Bar Exam. He and his wife, my great-grandmother had my grandpa later in life. He was the apple of his mother’s eye, and so he lived what many would consider to be a pretty good childhood. When he wanted a car, his father made him promise if he got him one he would drive him to work. He would, for a short time, then the car would be wrecked, and he got another, and his dad was walking to work before long. He was spoiled. His mother passed away when he was 18, and his father passed a short few years later. One would think that all his parents had built would have gone directly to him and he would be alright, but my grandpa didn’t get his stubbornness from thin air, it was genetic, and it was definitely handed down. When my great-grandpa died, his will excluded his only son from inheriting anything. It instead passed everything on to his grandchildren, implicitly stating that his son did not know the value of a dollar.
My grandpa, at the time of his father’s death, already had one child and another on the way. Any inheritance he may have hoped for was not going to happen. He had to find a way to support his family. He went to work repairing radios that were commonly used in trucks, taxi’s and homes (think of it as chat rooms, pre-internet). In this line of work he got to know the owners of several cab companies, and soon went to work as a dispatcher part-time. The dispatching part time, soon lead to a position as a manager for a local company. It was a few years later when an opportunity to purchase his own company arose. The Mountjoy family owned a cab company that operated in Prince William County and they were looking to sell it. After my grandfather passed and we were looking through some of his papers, we found his calculations and were able to see exactly how he made his decision. He purchased Radio Cab in 1978. As I mentioned before, owning a cab company is hard work. Being open 24 hours requires that someone be in the office 24 hours. My family was, at that point, also operating the Greyhound bus depot in Triangle, so they multi-tasked the space there to handle both operations. Five cabs don’t seem like a lot, but we soon had to relocate. In total, to this moment, we have had seven different offices, although we have been in our current office for 20 years or more. Soon five cabs wasn’t enough to take care of the whole county, so the fleet increased. Later private owners came to be big part of the company. My grandpa went from a boy cut out of an inheritance to operating his own company with more than 60 Yellow Cabs.
I’d like to finish the story by telling you he retired and moved to an island where he perfected his golf game, but he was prone to sunburn, and while he loved golf, I didn’t think he’s make the seniors tournaments. He passed away in 2004. He did, before he died, finally get the Cadillac he always wanted. I’d like to think that when he got to Heaven, his dad was there waiting for him, ready to shake his hand and tell him that he did it, and he did it all on his own, just like he hoped his son would.
Found this on Joanna’s Desk top after she left to pursue her dream job of High School English teacher.
Ride Share companies have hit our industry hard. We were at the top of our game when this was written and have experienced a significant down turn. Not a family that sits and cries over tough times, we have picked ourselves up, and found ways to make it work (and cried some to be totally honest!). We are still here, providing traditional taxi service and more. Joanna still comes in when she isn’t teaching, Monica is still here helping with day to day operations and although Richie moved on to a job closer to home and family he is still willing to help out when we need him.
We still love what we do and hope that everyone will remember us. A small family owned business that has served the citizens, visitors and guests in Prince William County for over 40 years.
Remember to Shop Small Business and Ride Local!
Our business, while difficult some days, is also kind of fun! We are at our core a customer service provider. You call our office, and we do our best to honor whatever requests you can come up with; transportation related, of course. But we do occasionally get some more than interesting calls into our office.
People will call and want to give us their life story. We have become very familiar with some of our regulars. If they are grouchy, we know it. If they are having a good day, sometimes they share why; sometimes we wish they didn’t, other times we are happy right along with them. Sometimes those same customers call for a ride and just need an ear for a minute. I just reminded my operators today that I cannot pay them more to be telephone counselors for people. We’re sure there’s an app for that now.
Some of the most fun requests we have gotten were to actually drive a Bride and Groom from their church to their reception the day of their wedding. The colors of the wedding where black and yellow, so we fit right in there! We’ve taken expectant, in labor, mothers to the hospital, and we’ve even had one taxi birth. The driver cleaned the car after he dropped her off and was back in service a few hours later. (While it was pretty cool, we cringed too!) We’ve done a welcome home trip for a returning soldier on the Fourth of July. We were proud to be a part of that, it was one of our favorites.
We often get called for directions, phone numbers, and locations of other businesses. While we do our best to help, we are not Waze or the Yellow Pages. Close, but not really. Our lost and found calls, we could make a book out of. We have a collection of strollers that would rival any Babies R Us (R.I.P.). We have enough keys here to open just about any kind of door ever made. We also have more cell phones than your local Verizon store. That’s probably why people are calling us for counseling, they can’t download the app.
Then, there are the ones that leave us scratching our heads. We’ve had someone call and ask could we move a motorcycle in the trunk. We’ve transported someone’s deceased pet to be cremated. We are constantly going to McDonalds, Wendy’s, or whatever fast food chain there is, ordering food and delivering it. People have requested vans to use us and our driver as their own, personal moving service. We’ve followed spouses, not on own, one of the affected parties were always there with us, even when we didn’t want to be. We even once delivered an NC-17 cake for a bachelorette party because the baker didn’t want her teenaged delivery people taking a peek. We’ve done some stuff, seen and heard incredible things! Even on slow days, it can be interesting. But don’t worry, we’d never share any specifics.
Side hustle, temporary work, or a side gig; things that people are doing as a part-time, sometimes temporary work in order to bring in a little extra cash. People are signing up under apps to complete home repair, help people move, babysit, sell or rent clothes or even rent out your own house. You name it, and there’s probably an app for it. Many times you don’t have to have any special skills, be certified in anything, or have proper insurance to do the tasks people are looking for. You’re just connected with someone on an app who’s willing to do the work. Sometimes, often times, things work out great. People are paying less for the services they want, and getting results they are pleased with. But there is another side of side gigs that can be a little frightening.
So you want to move, you call a few movers in your area, get quotes, and discover quickly, moving isn’t cheap. So you go to one of the many apps available for movers. The price is right so you sign up. The movers arrive, as expected, your stuff is loaded and off they go. But what happens if there’s an accident? Will the damage to your belongings be covered by the person who got three friends together and rented a truck? Who’s responsible?
You decide you live in a nice area, near a big city, and you want to rent your house or a room out on one of the rental sites. You sign up, take pictures, and post your rental on a popular app where hundreds, maybe thousands of people see your home. You find a renter, pack your stuff, stow your valuables, and off you go, fully trusting that you’ve rented through the app to good people and everything will be fine. So what happens if there’s an accident? One of the people you’ve rented to falls while walking down your stairs. Who’s responsible?
Unfortunately, this is something that a few side gig users have had to face; trying to determine liability in the event that something goes wrong. Without the proper insurance, licenses, and credentials, many times either the person completing the work, or the person using the services are often left footing the bill. Your cheap mover has wrecked the truck and all your boxes and furniture are now on the side of the road. He has no insurance to cover this; he’s just a guy who rented a truck. Who do you go after, the app, or the individual. Your renters are now suing you for their medical bills. Your homeowners insurance is denying coverage because you are legally now an innkeeper, and therefore needed a commercial policy. Your rideshare driver had only a personal policy, and his insurance is refusing to pay because he was involved in commercial enterprise during the accident. Do you remember what you agreed to when you scrolled through the terms and conditions? In many cases the apps, developers and companies controlling them, have done their research, and have hired legal teams to completely wash their hands of any responsibility. Now you’re stuck.
This is why it is so important to be completely aware of what you may be getting yourself into. Terms and conditions are tricky ways that many of these companies exonerate themselves of all liability. A guy with a car can sign up and drive you around. You don’t know his background. You don’t know if he has insurance. You just know he showed up with a decal in his window and looked similar to the person in the picture, on your phone, of who your driver should be. It’s a system that easily has the capability to put you in harm’s way.
So what do you do to protect yourself? This is where taxicabs and other reputable companies fit into the gig economy. We’re still here! We have been doing the same business as these side giggers for years, decades, centuries, even! Many times our insurance is monitored by state agencies to make sure we’re complying with all laws. In fact, many counties, cities and states have laws designed especially for us to follow to protect you from harm. We are even still hiring! If you need a side gig that won’t ruin you financially, you need to come see us. Many cab companies will even supply you with a fully equipped and insured cab to drive so you aren’t destroying your own, personal vehicle. Movers are hiring as well, if you like lugging boxes, and lifting heavy stuff, it’s right up your alley. They also have their own trucks, so you don’t have to rent one! The side gig economy can be full of pitfalls, why open yourself liability?
Most people think of taxi service as local trips and service to the airport, bus station, or train station. That is the large majority of our trips here at Yellow Cab. We service all types of riders. From the people that need to pick their car up from the shop, the mom that is having a rough morning (her kids missed the bus and now her car won’t start), someone who is having outpatient surgery and shouldn’t drive, the elderly neighbor that needs to pick up some groceries, the business person going out of town and the family leaving on vacation, we provide safe affordable rides to these and many other customers performing everyday errands.
Sometimes we get the pleasure of taking a passenger on a special trip. Maybe they don’t enjoy flying. Some want the comfort of a vehicle with a favorite driver. Others want to take a pet along. They travel as they wish, sleep if they need to, go at their own pace, stop and smell the flowers, stretch their legs and enjoy the scenery.
In our 40 year history we have been to many destinations for many reasons.
Once we had a lady that didn’t want to be separated from her pet, they traveled to Ontario. We are not sure who enjoyed the trip more, the dog, passenger or the driver!
Another trip took a veteran to a hospital in Indiana.
We took an elderly passenger to Ocean City to visit her old home and friends.
Casino trips to Atlantic City and Charles Town Racetrack in West Virginia, all before MGM and Maryland Live were built.
New York City is a favorite destination, as is Virginia Beach.
We have taken people to Florida, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and even Jackson Mississippi! Trips to Upstate New York, Ohio and North Carolina too.
So please remember, we are your locally owned and operated cab company and we will get you where you need to be! No matter where it is you wish to go!
So, I admit it, I made people cry with my last blog……sorry!! That wasn’t my intention. Today, I am hoping to make you laugh. Our business deals with people when they are their most miserable and most jolly. Your car breaks down, you call a tow truck then you call us! You had a little too much fun out on the town, you call us to get you home safe. We deal with people at their lowest, and their highest…..sometimes literally.
We often find people, in their highs and lows will leave the most random things in our back seats. Sometimes these things are harmless, other times they leave us slightly more afraid of the world our drivers are in.
From the weird files here at Yellow Cab, we present: “You Left What In a Cab??”
Canes, canes and more canes have been left in cabs more times than we can remember. But one cane was waaaaay more interesting than any we have ever had dropped off in our office. It looked a little different and it wasn’t until someone pulled on one side that we understood why. It was actually a dual purpose cane. It could help you walk, and also help you in a fight as it had a sword concealed in the leg. Also not our only weapon, as someone did leave a gun in the back of a taxi. Rest assured, it was quickly removed and was turned over to the proper authorities.
Believe it or not, we once had a passenger leave an artificial leg in the backseat. We had a hard time figuring out exactly how that was even possible. More shockingly, two sets of false teeth have been left in our cabs. Both sets of recovered teeth were returned to their proper owners, and we are going to leave it at that. Another time a customer called because she thought she had lost her teeth in the cab, but we were informed by the driver they were likely on the side of the road and she owed him $25 for the car wash he had to pay for after she was dropped off. EEEEWWWWWEEEE!
Medications are left in cabs often and we make every attempt to locate the owners and return them. We have returned them to pharmacies, nursing homes and rightful owners when they are able to be located and verified. Self medications are another topic. Yes, we have had illegal substances left in cabs. Those too go to the proper authorities ASAP! I don’t know what they do with them, but we definitely don’t want them here! Please don’t do drugs and mostly, please don’t leave them in our cabs!!
Probably the saddest thing ever, not to make you cry or anything, was a puppy! We had a tiny little puppy left in the backseat of a vehicle once. The driver brought it to the office and he got to stay with one of our operators overnight until the owner was found and they were reunited.
I hope if we have to come get you one day that if you’re at your lowest, we are able to pick you up . If we pick you up at your highest, we just want to get you where you are going safely. If ever you happen to leave something in the cab that you wouldn’t go to jail for, or something that is a danger to the general public, we are always more than happy to reunite you with your lost item.
My name is Joanna, I am the General Manager of Yellow Cab. I have been with Yellow Cab since I was born. Yes, really. I used to come with my mom, now owner, Tammy, when she came to work. I’d visit my Grandpa, then owner, Corky. I’d listen to the radio and all the calls that would go out. Occasionally, if my dad was here and we were short drivers, I would go out and ride along on calls and meet our customers face to face. I remember a lady in Triangle, almost across the street from our office, right off of route one giving me a quarter tip one day when I was probably 3 or 4. I don’t recall her name, but if she is reading this, thanks again! I remember there was a cot in the office then, we were still required by law to be open 24 hours a day, but there weren’t ever many calls that came in overnight, so napping was allowed. Often, in the early days, it was my grandpa sleeping on the cot, waking up to take a call, getting in the cab and getting a customer, then coming back to take more calls or another nap. He’d go home and shower just to come right back to work. We could walk across the street to McDonalds for lunch, and I remember also getting candy from the 7-11 with my grandpa. All of those buildings, even our first office, are gone now. Then, the drivers would hang out in the office and a few of them I remember. What I remember the most about all of it was laughing. My Grandpa, my mom, the drivers, and other people who worked there, we laughed. It was hard work getting started, a lot of long hours, most of which I was too young to remember, but it seemed to me a fun place to be.
When I look back on it now, I am proud of the work that my family has done. My family is the people I am related to, obviously, but it is also the people that walk through these doors every day. We have drivers that have been with us for 30+ years, call takers and dispatchers who we’ve been blessed to work with for 15+ years. These men and women are my family. We have accomplished so much together. We have watched our industry change from writing down trips on paper, cash transactions, and radio dispatching, to apps, and computers, and GPS, and backseat swipes. We have implemented those changes sometimes with a happy heart with no problems what so ever. Although, I will admit, some of those changes had us sleeping at the office, crying and screaming. Once we figure it all out, we’re right back to where we started, laughing with our family.
I wrote this blog so you could see the personal side of all this. I wrote before that when you need us you can chose to talk to a machine, book through an app, or online. We are so much more than the technology we have, though. We are my sister, our office manager, who is getting married soon to our daytime dispatcher, and our overnight dispatcher who recently got married, and our daytime operator who is getting married even sooner and better hurry up and get everything done in time! We are the driver whose wife just had twins last week. We are the Duke graduate that works here part time. We are the band that make up the daytime operator and midnight dispatching shifts. We are the single mom who has supported three amazing kids that we all love. We are the dad working here and another job to support his kids. We are the driver who has put his kids through college and just went home recently to say good bye to his mom. We are the operator who sang kick butt karaoke the other night! We are the college boy who worked here while he finished school and just became a dad. We are the operator and wordsmith of emails that always entertain. We are the dispatcher who is trying to get a job with the 911 operating center and we are all pulling for him! We are the driver who fled his country at a young age with his mother who dressed as a man to keep them safe and had no shoes as she walked over mountains to protect her children. We are people. We are a family. We have grown together. I want the best for all these people. I appreciate them all. I am proud of every single one, even if they are not listed here.
We have an app! We have several to be exact. We have our Yellowcabpw app, we have the Mars app, and we also use GATA hub (all available in the google play store and in the apple store as well). You can text us for a cab if you need to. If you prefer to call and NOT talk to a real live person, you can book a cab through our automated service by selecting three. We are working as hard as we can to make sure we have the latest and greatest technology on a small business budget………some things are obviously easier than others when it comes to owning your own business.
One of the awesome things we do have here, for when you need them, are REAL, LIVE PEOPLE! People that are breathing and can talk, some even know a few languages! This is our advantage in the ever changing transportation industry. When you have a problem, (Yes, we know we should be perfect every time, but problems do happen less than occasionally) you can call us, a real person will answer the phone and help you, or put you in touch with the person who can, and we work to resolve your issue. Whether it’s a complaint, leaving something in a vehicle, a compliment (we like those) or anything, really, there is someone on the other end of the line here to help as best they can! The best part about all of this is that you will get someone who cares. Family owned and operated means our name is on the line. We are a part of the community. We want you to have good things to say about us and say hi when you see us out and about! We want to be more than an app and a stranger, we are part of your community, we are your neighbors!
This past weekend we were involved with the Independence Empowerment Center’s ADA Fair. This event celebrates the signing of the American’s with Disabilities Act by President George Herbert Walker Bush on July 26th, 1990. This law was the first inclusive civil rights law that addressed the needs of the disabled population of the United States. The law was created to eliminate the obstructions that existed for those with disabilities in the areas of employment, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunications. The sweeping legislation tore down the barriers that limited those with disabilities from being active and involved citizens in their communities.
Being a part of the ADA Fair is something that we always look forward to. Dr Mary Lopez, the director of the I.E.C. (Independence Empowerment Center) has become a friend of Yellow Cab and our family. She is a wonderful, fun, and spunky lady who always makes us laugh, but has also been essential in fighting for the rights of those in the county with disabilities. It was through our interactions with the IEC, its partners, and Dr Lopez, that we decided to purchase our first accessible vans.
When you seek to be a part of something, like we do this community, and you see there is a huge unmet need, you do whatever it takes to address it in the best way you can. Our accessible vans cost more to purchase, more to insure, more to train drivers to use properly, but we pushed all of that out of our minds, went with our hearts, and did what we knew was needed and right. It was one of the best things that we have ever done. The vans have been an amazing asset to the people that need them. People now have the ability to get where they need to go without being charged the astronomical rates that previous non-emergency medical transport companies would charge. The people who drive the vans have formed friendships with the people they are driving. In some cases they have been all but formally adopted into their passenger’s families. We are servicing people who truly need this transportation to be a part of their community. We cannot express in words how grateful we are to be able to provide the much needed service. We also cannot say thank you enough to the IEC and Dr. Lopez for showing us how important and necessary these services are to this community.
While hot, very hot, I mean BLAZING hot, the event was as wonderful as ever. Dr Lopez and her team at the Independence Empowerment Center always get together just the right mix of people, companies, and organizations that really care about the disabled population of Prince William County. The vendors this year were no exception. We were able to meet with our customers and discuss things we are doing to help, and things we can do to better help. There were many people there that have become old friends of our company and we were able to make new friends as well. We love the smiling faces and caring hearts we always encounter at this event. The auction is also one of our favorites and while we didn’t spend as much this year, we think we were the big winners yet again!
Thank you Independence Empowerment Center and Dr. Lopez for the invitation to participate in your event again this year. We look forward to coming to many more and if you keep inviting Phat Yummies you may have to fight us not to come!
When you walk into just about any McDonalds in the United States, you know what you are getting. The McNuggets in California are the same shape as the ones in Virginia, the special sauce on the Big Mac is the same (it’s some form of thousand island, right?), the food is the same. The employees all wear similar uniforms, the décor is mostly the same, some are older, some are newer, but most people know a McDonald’s when they see one. I can say with 100% surety that this is not the case with taxicabs.
So, what do a Grandma from Virginia, a Belgium immigrant and a former factory worker have in common……no they don’t all own a McDonald’s, but they all own Yellow Cab Companies. Much like McDonald’s anyone can own a cab company, but unlike McDonald’s, most people who own a cab company are not franchisees. These are all independent, mostly small businesses. The cab drivers are for the most part independent contractors that are licensed by the jurisdictions they are operating in. There is no gigantic Yellow Cab building in New York City telling every Yellow Cab that they have to buy a certain vehicle and paint it a certain color. There is no Yellow Cab marketing team that provides us with commercials and marketing tools. It’s just the grandma from Virginia, the immigrant and the former factory worker, standing alone, making decisions that affect their business and their family. The bottom line is sometimes whether or not they will get to cash that paycheck this week, or hold it to pay employees, if they have made enough for their kid to go to that football camp this month, or if they can afford that picnic to let their drivers know how much they appreciate what they do to keep their companies good image.
When you see our commercials for “shop small, shop local” know that, this is what you are getting, Small and Local. We paid for our commercial ourselves, sure we got it on Fivver and it wasn’t THAT expensive, but it still cost our family to let you know what we are all about.
Ok everyone, here we go!
The people in the know tell us we need to blog to increase our online presence so we are going to give it a try. Think of this as sitting a talking to the owners of a small business. We are family owned and operated so one day you may hear from the “Matriarch” Tammy and the next from the “General Manager” Joanna. Some stories will come from our “Driver Manager” Monica or our dispatch staff, garage staff, drivers and maybe even our customers. We try to treat everyone as family and we want to welcome you to our great big extended family too!
You won’t believe the things that happen here in Yellow Cab land. We hope to enlighten you about on demand transportation, small businesses, working with family, and anything else that comes up as we travel down this road together. We will share pictures and stories, laughs and tears, and hopefully have lots of fun!