Boulder Transport carves niche for quality ski service
Carlos Alvarez-Aranyos’ résumé reads more like the back story of an international man of mystery than the owner of a private transport company.
The 36-year-old has worked for both the U.S. Department of Defense and one of the world’s richest men, and did communications work for a global non-governmental organization in Africa and the Middle East.
He once served as a judge for the Miss USA contest; drove a rickshaw across India; and took a smart car from London to Vladivostok, Russia.
He doesn’t — and hasn’t, for many years — owned a car: When he worked as a Boulder-based cab driver in 2014-15, he drove his motorcycle to and from the company’s hub.
We sat down with AlvarezAranyos, who has been running Boulder Transport since May 2015, to learn more about why the quiet life of small business ownership appeals to him and how he stays competitive in a world where anyone with a smartphone can be a taxi:
But Uber and Lyft don’t do a fair job. They don’t pay their drivers well and their service is variable — it’s not prescheduled, it doesn’t take you up to the mountains.
The commensurate service is Uber Black or Uber SUV. That’s a better comparison to what we do.
Absolutely. If you’re going to take Uber Black, you should ride with us. We have better insurance, we have better cars and we have better prices.
And I try to pay my drivers $20 an hour. They’re responsible people you want taking care of you and your family. We’re putting kids in these cars, you know.
What we really want is to add helicopters to the fleet, based out of the municipal airport. We want to build it out for Google, Covidien, all the big companies. We’re working diligently toward that goal and talking with some ski resorts that we think will help us toward that.
We started driving for the Sonnenalp (hotel) in Vail a little bit last year, and they had a very particular set of needs. Every time they called, they wanted a sprinter van. So we bought one.
It’s a Mercedes Benz Sprinter that fits 14 people; it’s got snow tires on it so it’s good for the mountain driving. We also have three SUVs that are fully winterized so it’s a full mountain division.
We want to be the company that shuttles skiers from the Front Range: Assemble a group of friends and it’s a competitive price to a shuttle.
Eventually, we’ll launch a subscription shuttle service connected with the ski passes to resorts that takes you to a different resort on your pass each week. We think we can create a really good service for Boulder.
With the Sprinter van, we have five cars. Most of our trips are to the airport, but winter time is slower for airport business. We do a lot of trips to Vail, Breckenridge and Aspen in the winter; especially if the airport in Aspen shuts down.
But really we go all over the state. We have one client in Durango.
I started with a $7,000 loan from two of my friends so I could put a down payment on a vehicle and pay for all the registration needed for a transportation service. I have since repaid that.
We have been profitable and cash flow positive since we started. I’m intensely proud of that because every decision had to be weighed, every car purchase. We had to get out ahead of ourselves
So we had no backup. It was either bankruptcy or work. And I’ve worked harder than I ever did in my life.
Carlos Alvarez-Aranyos has turned a $7,000 loan into Boulder Transport, which takes clients to ski resorts around the state and links some services to ski passes. Cliff Grassmick, Daily Camera