Ray Schofield (left) and Bob Flynn

Link to community drives Green Ride 2014 Bravo! Entrepreneur - Emerging Entrepreneur

leisurely vacation in Hawaii turned into a thriving airport shuttle service in Northern Colorado.

Bob Flynn and Ray Schofield – and yes, they’ve heard and probably even initiated all the Bob and Ray jokes  you can come up with – founded Green Ride Colorado in 2008, the brainchild of that conversation on a Hawaiian beach about starting a business together.

The company, which started service in May 2009, has 90 employees and 27 vehicles in Fort Collins, transporting 300 to 500 people a day to Denver International Airport and back. Green Ride’s Boulder operation has 20 employees and eight vehicles serving about 100 people a day. Van capacity ranges from 5 passengers to 37.

About 95 percent of Green Ride’s business is to and from the airport. But Schofield says a growing charter business “takes advantage of the fact that sometimes we have vehicles that aren’t going to the airport.”

“We really noticed the need for a business that was sustainable and environmentally friendly,” Flynn said. “We wanted to emphasize that not only are we transporting people, but we are serving the planet in a wise way. Green Ride just fit really well with that whole concept.”

Flynn and Schofield lived across the street from each other, and their families often vacationed together.

Schofield worked at Hewlett-Packard after leaving the Air Force. Flynn worked at Honeywell for more than 20 years before he went to work at Shamrock Transportation, where his love for working in shared-ride transportation bloomed.

“In high tech, I had a great job, but I didn’t have a great connection to our community,” Flynn said. “Working in transportation involved every aspect of community. That was a very rich experience.”

Financed with “Bob and Ray’s meager savings” and a Small Business Administration loan, the two initially did all the driving and general vehicle maintenance and acted as reservation agents and dispatchers as well.

As a result, they have a first-hand understanding and appreciation of the contributions their employees make. Employees share in 25 percent of the company’s profits every year.

The vehicles are all gasoline- or diesel-powered, but drivers go below the speed limit on I-25, for example, and the vehicles are serviced regularly.

Because the company is reservation-based, it doesn’t make unnecessary trips and uses the appropriately sized vehicle for the number of passengers it’s transporting. Reservation agents work from home.

The future looks bright. Flynn notes that when he and Schofield were starting out, other shuttle companies told them “if you can get 3 percent of the traveling public as customers, you’re doing great.

“We’re up to about 10 percent of the traveling public now, and we’re not sure where that ends. The opportunity is tremendous. Our goal right now is to get to 1,000 people.”

Green Ride is looking at expanding into other parts of Colorado and Wyoming.

In the midst of that rapid growth, though, is “growing our culture, making sure that we maintain consistency by taking care of our employees and providing good service to our customers, making sure we value the experience they have,” Schofield said.