Cab company drives local economy

The Upper Peninsula houses more than one fourth of Michigan’s total land area and getting from one town to the other can be quite the haul. One local business is helping make up the difference. ABC 10’s Rick Tarsitano has that story.

The latest offering from Checker Transport: a pedal powered trolley

Taxis are usually synonymous with loud, impatient driving, unfriendly faces, and a patchwork of unsettling odors, but Checker Transport Cabs curb all that. The company’s eco-friendly vehicles arrive in near silence with pristine seating that is thoroughly cleaned after each route.

Jesse Schramm bought the Checker Cab name and number five years ago, when their service was limited to the city of Marquette as a sedan point-to-point company. But, given the vast nature of the region, Schramm quickly expanded Checker Cab’s scope to include Ishpeming, Negaunee, and eventually the entire U.P.

And while the quantity of his fleet began to increase, the quality never suffered. Drivers still maintain a close-knit relationship with their riders.They chat about each other’s lives, exchange tales and goodies for the road, and most importantly, listen and adhere to their clients’ needs.

“We were approached by a client that needed a specific bus size and asked if we ever considered going into busing. We hadn’t,” laughed Schramm. “So, we started with one bus and about two years after that we had fifteen buses.”

Buses that go as far as Detroit, Chicago, New York, and even San Antonio.

“Nobody was doing that in this area, or it’s been long gone. People were only doing casino tours. We already had the equipment, so it made sense to go into tours and offer people in the U.P. experiences that they might not otherwise be able to afford or do through air travel or other expensive means,” Schramm added.

Now they have their own tour division that helps groups plan trips to places all over the map like Lambeau Field.

Schramm’s hunger to build didn’t end there. He continued to improve the business by adding cutting edge party buses, limousines, and most recently, a state of the art pedal powered trolley.

Their arsenal blossomed at such a rapid rate that they were forced to move into a larger facility. But, no matter how big they get, every city in the U.P. will be taken care of. Even though Schramm has an empire that stretches from Ironwood to the Mackinac Bridge, he’ll continue to think outside the box, not allowing his rolling stone to gather any moss.

“A lot more expansion? Hopefully, but I don’t think so. We’re close to where we want to be. A three to four motor coach operation with decent volume that supplies some good local jobs for some good people.” noted Schramm.