John and Wendy Nasser are not a couple you'd expect to start a taxicab
company. He is a high-end technology careerist with an international background; she is a certified public accountant with a Boston accountancy firm. But the owners of the new Gloucester Taxi & Livery Company
had one huge advantage going into their ambitious start-up. In a business where “knowing the lay of the land” is crucial, these Gloucester, MA
natives knew their city. “We were born and raised here,” says John Nasser. “We understand what makes its heart beat.”
Wendy Nasser has a CPA's professional caution about all things financial. The couple sat down, looked into the city's taxi market, estimated the total annual gross take and liked what they came up with. They sat down again and looked into the start-up costs. The biggest expense was the high cost of initial insurance, which could be offset by the tax advantages of a start-up. “The rest we could deal with as managing partners,” says Nasser. “It was about more than money for the team, too. And that really won us over.”
“They're savvy about the city's economy and it's need to develop tourism.” He says of his team. “They talked about learning the city's history, so they could serve as unofficial tour guides and goodwill ambassadors.” “That's why our fleet color is maroon, its Gloucester High School's color,” he noted. “We all wore it when we played for the GHS, and now our kids do. Our 13-year-old daughter, Kayla plays basketball, and I used her team uniform to choose the paint match on our cars.” The Company's fleet includes five cars, three sedans, one van, and one livery car, in the start-up fleet.
In the weeks since it's been in operation, Gloucester Taxi & Livery's cars have picked up passengers at an encouraging pace. It's also picked up contracts with Pathways and SeniorCare. Operating out of 212 Main St., its core business comes from train commuters, the elderly, business travelers, and even in the dead of winter, tourists, including lots of airport runs using the van and livery car.
The best days for business are the worst weather wise, Nasser says, because people don't walk in bad weather, so last week's wind was a windfall for the team who'd gone weeks without pay during the transition leading to official launch of operations. “I'd offered to help every one of them with cash, no-strings attached, and every one of them, turned me down,” says Nasser. “Then, in last week's storms, I noticed extra earnings were shared automatically.” “That's a Gloucester thing that spirit of generosity,” he says “It's who we are and what our company's about.” It's also why there was never any question about what the company logo would be: Gloucester's iconic “Man at the Wheel.” ”Once it was on our cars,” says Nasser, “we called everyone together, and then there was nothing left to do but say, 'Gentlemen, start your engines."