Boul­der Trans­port carves niche for qual­ity ski ser­vice

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Shay Castle Why start a trans­port ser­vice now, with Uber and Lyft be­ing so pop­u­lar? So there’s still un­met de­mand in the higher-end ser­vice cat­e­gory? Do ski re­sorts and skiers make up a goodly por­tion of your busi­ness? How big is your fleet now and w

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

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