Bill George’s company helps people who are going places get to their destinations. “Going places” is an apt description of George’s company too.
As the CEO of Kansas City Transportation Group (KCTG), George sets the strategic direction of the Midwest’s largest private passenger ground transportation company. KCTG has grown to include several well-known industry brands—SuperShuttle, Yellow Cab, 10/10 Taxi and Carey Black Car Service—operating in 19 cities.
Chrysler to Cabs
George and his father landed in the on-demand transportation industry by accident. The elder George’s Chrysler dealership sold cars to two cab companies that went bankrupt in the late 70s and early 80s. So, he and some partners formed Metropolitan Transportation Services and bought the assets of the two bankrupt companies.
Bill George joined the company in 1985. Together, the father-son duo expanded the company, eventually selling it to Coach USA in 1997. Bill George stayed on with the new company and expanded its portfolio, before buying back the Kansas City operations and renaming it Kansas City Transportation Group. In 2007, George sold to French-based Transdev. From Kansas City, George oversees Transdev’s portfolio of cab companies around the country.
Navigating the Generations
George spent weekends, summers and holiday breaks in his father’s business. Despite that firsthand experience of his youth, he’s never taken success for granted. “There’s the theory of thunder, wonder and blunder between the generations,” he said. “The founder comes in with the thunder and everything happening, the second generation just wonders and wants to hang on, and the third one usually messes it up.”
Even though he and his father didn’t always agree, George credits his father with allowing him to develop his business savvy without fear of repercussion.
Even though he and his father didn’t always agree—George credits his father with allowing him to develop his business savvy without fear of repercussion.
An observation George made while living in Johnson County led to an “aha” moment that accelerated KCTG’s growth: It was nearly unheard of to get a cab in southern Johnson County. “The reality was, there were no cabs out there because there was no demand, and there was no demand because there was no supply,” George said.
Based on the feedback George got from his neighbors, KCTG introduced 10/10 Taxi, a service that charges $10 for up to 5 miles with a cab arriving within 10 minutes.It started with five cars. Within 18 months, it exploded to 180 cars.
“Ninety percent of that business was net new,” said George. “We took a little bit of share from some others, but the majority was just brand-new business.”
George anticipated the disruption that Uber and other ride-sharing companies would create. Instead of seeing them as competitors, he credits them with “doing something we would never have been able to do”: change people’s behaviors.
He introduced zTrip, a Smartphone app that lets customers hail a car or a taxi for immediate pickup, for later in the day, or even later in the week.Uunlike popular ride-sharing services, zTrip’s drivers are professionally-licensed and insured.
“We look at what customers want, how we can profitably take the pieces we want and put together a multi-faceted operation that serves both the back seat customer and the front seat driver.,” George said.
Fueling the Business
KCTG has found the right financial partner in Equity Bank.
“It’s nice because Equity has the resources to make the loans we need to buy equipment. More importantly, they believe in entrepreneurs and understand their business,” said George.
George notes that his business is rather unique, but that hasn’t hindered Equity’s understanding of KCTG’s goals. “In a business like mine, they understand that I know the business, and they ask me good questions,” George said.
Where’s KCTG Headed?
George estimates that in Kansas City alone, the market for on-demand transportation has increased 400 percent in the past 5 years.
He cites the last study done at KCI airport: 91 percent of the passengers arriving at the airport did so by private passenger vehicle.
“To bring that 91 percent down to 81 percent? We can double our market share. So, that’s where we’re focused: How do we get people out of their cars?”
Share Your Napkin Story
Some of the most amazing business stories started as an idea scribbled on a napkin.
Mark Parman, Kansas City Market President of Equity Bank, invites you to share your Napkin Story. “We not only want to hear your origin story, we can help you continue to write the rest of your company’s story,” he said.
Equity Bank is a full-service community bank with offices in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Our bankers are experienced with businesses from small
to large. We take the time to listen to your story and help you design the services that will benefit you and your business.
To share your napkin story, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or (913) 323-9300.