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Family Values on the Road

Written by John Kuder

Table Of Contents

How Ed and Chris Farrell Have Built Alternative Transportation Systems

In this episode of Celebrating Small Family Businesses, we interviewed Ed and Chris Farrell from Alternative Transportation Systems (ATS), a smoothly running family business based in Arlington, Massachusetts. What came out of the conversation was a remarkable tale of resilience, adaptability, and a shared family mission.

The Beginning of a Family Business

ATS isn’t just a transportation company—it’s a family legacy dating back a few generations. “It started basically here in Arlington,” Ed Farrell recalls. “My grandfather started in the heating oil business in the forties, and then as that business grew, we morphed into different businesses.” This gradual adaptation led the family to launch a transportation business 20 years ago, a move that marked the newest addition to their business repertoire.

The Value of Working with Family

One of the most striking aspects of the Farrell family business is their inherent ability to naturally place family members where they excel. As Ed points out, “We have the transportation business. We have a retail store that sells barbecue stuff. There’s a lot of different things that our family has gotten into over the years.”

One of those things was an auto repair business. When the non-emergency transportation company was created, it had the added benefit of in-house repair facilities and experienced, trusted mechanics on the payroll.

Chris Farrell’s Journey

Chris Farrell joined ATS right out of college, starting from the ground up as a driver. “I began as a driver on the road,” Chris shares. “Interacting with our clients, visiting the various facilities, kind of identifying pain points.” This hands-on experience provided him with unique insights vital for his current role as General Manager.

Chris believes in leading by example, frequently stepping in to drive on busy days to keep his finger on the “heartbeat of the business.”

Working from the bottom to his current role has earned Chris a lot of respect from both family and non-family employees. He continues to earn that respect when he steps in to drive as needed.

Chris talks about his approach to hiring, which is focused on giving the candidate the whole picture. Chris emphasizes the dedication required to be part of ATS. He wants them to know what they are committing to in terms of attention to detail, a level of customer service, and a commitment to excellence. He says, “You either have it or you don’t… You’re either a caring person who drives well or, you know, maybe this isn’t for you. “

Overcoming Challenges

The conversation revealed that the global pandemic was one of the most significant challenges the family business faced. “We continued to work through the pandemic because the people we transport for dialysis and medical care still had to go,” Ed explains. The entire family came together, employing various hygiene protocols to ensure safety, including fogging vehicles with special chemicals after every ride. They could only transport one customer at a time because of the social distancing requirements. “It was all-hands-on-deck to keep everybody safe,” says Ed.

A Personal Approach to Business

One thing that sets ATS apart is its approach to employee engagement and client care. Ed and Chris have created an environment where employees feel involved and respected. Chris recounts a statement from one of his drivers that resonated deeply with him: “When you do everything with love, it’s simple.” Visibly affected, Chris said, “That really stuck with me.”

The Farrell family ensures that all employees understand ATS’s mission, ensuring a unified team all working towards the same goal. “People who are here, they want to be here,” Chris states. “And I think that they feel that way because them, they themselves are people of value. So they’re providing value to the people that they pick up. And, you know, like I said, when we hire, that’s, that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for quality people to put behind the wheel of quality vehicles to do the best job that we can.”

Networking For Growth

ATS also benefits from networking with other small businesses. Ed has a “breakfast club” in his office where he discusses challenges and strategies with other small business owners from various industries.

He doesn’t do this to try and get more business.

This exchange of ideas and experiences helps all of them look at business challenges through different lenses and be more successful.

Behind The Scenes of the ATS Website Video

The beautifully produced video on the home page of the ATS website was commissioned by TD Bank as part of their celebration of small businesses that they work with. That whole other story is how I became aware of ATS.

One of the drivers who was asked to be in the video asked the film crew, “What do you, what do you hope to capture?”

As Chris tells it, “They were outside in his driveway and they said, well, we want to kind of get a day in the life of a driver. He said, it’s going to be really hard to do that from outside of my house. Why don’t you guys come in? I’m about to have a coffee.”

This is another great example of the culture that the Farrell’s have built in their company. I hope you’ll watch or listen to the entire episode. There is much to celebrate and emulate.

Video Transcript

John and Connie: Hi and welcome to another episode of Celebrating Small Family Businesses. Today we are celebrating Alternative Transportation Systems in Arlington, Massachusetts and we have with us Chris and Ed Farrell. Hi Chris. Hi Ed.

Chris Farrell: Hello, Hey, how are you doing? Nice to meet you. Thanks for having us on.

John and Connie: It’s a pleasure. It’s a pleasure. I had the pleasure of speaking to Chris a little bit before and learn a little bit about the company and I’m looking. I’m excited to hear more and to share that your story with our our listeners. So I recall that you said that this was a multi general. Your website says it’s a multi generation family business.

I think you said it started like in the 1930s. Ed, you don’t look old enough to have been the

Ed Farrell: It started basically, , here in Arlington, there was different, different businesses, , same piece of land. Um, my grandfather started in the forties was in the heating oil business , and then as it could, as that business grew, we morphed into different businesses.

Um, Kind of developed things for different family members to get into that they were interested in that You know keep everybody kind of separated but still in the family business. We have the transportation business. We have a retail store that sells barbecue stuff. There’s a lot of different things that our family has gotten into over the years.

You know different people run different things different talents. Um, let’s say And that’s how we that’s how we run.

John and Connie: Nice. Well, that’s, that’s one of the things that, you know, we, we encourage family businesses to, to focus on is immediately finding their strengths, you know, and, and where their, where their talents and their strengths lie, and then let, put the right people in the right seats, you know, get everybody working with their strengths. And that’s where people seem to be the happiest. So it sounds like you guys did that just naturally from the beginning.

Ed Farrell: Yeah, right from the beginning. And we’ve started the transportation business. It’s the newest of the businesses. This is our 20th year. You blink and it’s 20 years, that’s it. That’s a new business to us. It’s grown quite a bit from its inception. We’ve been fortunate enough to, uh, Well, Chris has entered the business, is really enjoying it and taken to it very well.

So , it’s with his help, we’ve, we’ve made it grow.

John and Connie: Chris, I think I remember you said you came in and basically started at the bottom and worked your way up, uh, maybe starting in dispatching, was it?

Chris Farrell: That would have been nice dispatching. No, um, I actually came into it right out of college. I began as a driver on the road. So, you know, interacting with our clients, um, visiting the various facilities , kind of identifying. pain points. And I was a new grad and, you know, just kind of exploring options being a criminal justice major.

And, you know, a lot of the folks that we transport, I saw an opportunity to provide that valuable and quality transport, um, day to day from driving and kind of leaned into it at that point. And throughout the years went from driving to dispatching, scheduling, And so, uh, my current position now is a general manager and I think that, you know, having those interactions along the way, um, makes both your leadership relatable and credible when, you know, working and leading your employees.

They know that you’ve been out there and touched the things that they’ve touched and seen what they’ve seen. And I think that carries a lot of weight, um, and provides, you know, value to the employees and continued value to the, to the clients and the passengers.

John and Connie: Totally. Totally.. You just reminded me of something, you know, my father said many, many years ago was, you know, never ask somebody to do something you aren’t willing to do yourself. So, you know, starting as a driver there with the contact, yeah, that gives you not only credibility, but a lot of information, a lot of experience that you can bring, you know, then to the, uh, to the later stages. You ever go out and drive, drive a route once in a while now just to keep your hand in?

Chris Farrell: Absolutely. Absolutely. On busy days, I’ll, you know, head into Boston and do one of the shuttle routes and, you know, wear the driver uniform and kind of blend right in and, you know, the people who work here are shocked to see me out there, but I think that’s, you know, holds value and to be able to keep your finger on the heartbeat of the business and hear the things that the passengers are hearing on the shuttle or the chair car is, um, is important.

Kind of invaluable information and it carries a lot of, uh, value to the company to get that feedback directly from the passengers.

John and Connie: Yeah, sort of your own little version of undercover boss there. I like that.

Chris Farrell: It is, it is.

John and Connie:  How did the transportation business come out of the, of the other businesses? Was it a natural outgrowth or, or was it just, “Hey, we see an the opportunity, we’re going to try this”?

Ed Farrell: Well, transportation, originates always from the vehicles, correct? And we do have an automotive repair shop that we own, , that maintains the vehicles. And we’re, um, Chris and I are both vehicle people. We love cars, we love trucks. We’re into vehicles, , and if it moves we, , we have our finger on it and, um, there’s a certain amount of vertical integration when you have the ability to repair, maintain, and take care of the vehicles that you use on a daily basis.

Um, I think that’s a very, very important part of a transportation business, and we pay a lot of attention to it and that has, proven to work out very well for us.

John and Connie: I’m really glad you brought that up. I saw that on your website. And, you know, one of my questions is like, you know, what’s your USP or, you know, what kind of sets you apart from, and I’m ignorant about the transportation industry, but I’m suspecting that that right there that you were just talking about; owning your own is… starting actually with a car repair and then, but owning your own repair facility and doing all your own maintenance is probably not common in your industry.

Is that accurate?

Ed Farrell: That’s, that’s correct. And you know, um, if you know the vehicles, that’s your biggest, can be your biggest, uh, besides the labor costs. It can be your biggest expense. You can think of trying to take care of you and your wife’s cars and keeping up on all the maintenance. And you probably drive maybe 15 – 20,000 miles a year.

Well, our vehicles, they travel 50 to 60,000 miles a year, each one. And there’s over a hundred of them now, uh, to try to keep up on that maintenance. To keep, make sure you don’t lose an engine or transmission or, um, you don’t grind the brakes and, and to keep it safe. safe and, and keep it, uh, desirable for people to ride with you.

It’s still all about the ride. Transportation is still all about the ride.

John and Connie: Ha, I get that. We didn’t talk about this, Chris, but part of my family business, where I started, was working at an egg farm. We had an egg farm. And so I was driving a delivery route for, you know, several years of that. And so, yeah, I was, I had passengers that didn’t talk, but boy, if I hit a bump too hard or took a turn too fast, I had a mess to clean up.

And I remember a time. We didn’t maintain our own vehicles, I remember a time I was out and the, uh, I think the clutch went out on the, the, it was a big Step Van, like, you know, like UPS drives. And, um, clutch went out and, they were telling me, well, just drive it without the clutch. I didn’t know how. So, I sort of

feel

Chris Farrell: to, uh,

John and Connie: the vehicle maintenance.

Chris Farrell: We’ll have to get an egg test going, have a, uh, part of the driver evaluation, put an egg on the dashboard and make sure it doesn’t roll off and, uh, and hit the floor. Find out if they’re a good driver or not. Yeah.

John and Connie: Bingo

Chris Farrell: But, um, yeah, compounding

It’s very important to have a safe and quality vehicle and, you know, the turnaround on the vehicle is expedited because of our own repair shop and we know who’s fixing it, right? It’s Ed, it’s our fleet of mechanics to make sure that everything is safe and sound and it really goes back to, you know, the safety of the clients and we like to say that cleanliness is safety’s best friend.

And if somebody doesn’t believe a vehicle is, is clean, it arrives, it’s dirty. They’re not going to believe that it’s, it’s safe to get into. It just kind of feeds, feeds into itself. So the maintenance of the vehicle, the cleanliness of the vehicle, and then obviously the, the quality of the person you’re putting behind the wheel is, is very important to us.

And that’s what really separated us from the pack in the beginning when we got started about 20 years ago. And As you grow, you don’t want to, you know, as Ed stated, we have over 100 vehicles and equal amount of drivers and office staff. You don’t want to grow away from what made you special in the first place.

Um, so we found it helpful to deploy technology to enhance human interaction rather than replace it. Um, I think a lot of companies say, Oh, you know, we can use this item and that’ll save us money here, or we can eliminate this position. That’s never been Ed’s goal or vision. He, he wants to employ people.

He wants to employ quality folks and, you know, provide them with, you know, an above average of living wage and use those systems such as, you know, the driver passenger feedback portals we have on our tablet. When, you know, Jose or Jim Santos or Steven go to pick up a client and is ringing the front doorbell, well, the passenger likes to be picked up around the side of their house by the blue dumpster.

So we’ve already kind of. We’ve kind of expended some time figuring that out at once. We can now have the driver push that information into the office. We can update that client’s profile so when the next driver goes, they’re not wasting time on site and they’re able to tailor that experience for that client and make sure that we can get them picked up in an expeditious manner, brought to their appointment on time, which is pivotal in transportation.

It’s really, you know, our promise to the client. And, um, by utilizing those systems, like I said, we’re able to enhance the experience and enhance the value to the client. So, a bit of a little summary there as far as the major moving parts, although there are many.

John and Connie: I think you also have cameras inside the vehicles that record everything, I guess. So that if you need to review something, right. That’s, that’s also available to you.

Ed Farrell: Tracking cameras. We know where the vehicles are at all times. We know what’s going on in the vehicles. We know what’s going on in the street. Um, we have a full time person that, a safety, uh, officer that basically looks over, make sure everybody’s operating and doing the things that we taught them to do in training.

Training is a key thing. We do a lot of training with people. We do it, you know, on board training, prior to going out, you know, we just don’t hire a person, put them on the street, spend a lot of time and a lot of capital training them properly to do the job that they need to do. And, um, and continuous training, , on a yearly basis.

Sometimes more than just, uh, once a year, it’s several times. And if we find somebody, um, not doing it right, we can retrain them. The, the goal is to foster or, or guide people and get them to move in the right direction. Um, so they’re all in step with what the, what the mission is that we deliver.

John and Connie: Yeah, mission. That was something I, a note I remember writing down from , my conversation with Chris. Uh, everyone understands the mission. Can you elaborate on that a little bit, Chris, or Ed, either one?

Chris Farrell: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Um, so I do the majority of the hiring here and you know, you can come to me as a driver or potential office staff and it’s, it’s more than just the resume. Resumes are helpful. They’re a starting point. Um, but when I, you know, interview people and speak with them, we start there, but we move on to, you know, what are your goals, what are your aspirations, what are your hobbies?

And you can glean a lot of information and substance about who that person really is. And we, we, take that into a large consideration when onboarding people and I give everybody all of the information. Probably too much when I onboard them and say this is what we are, you know We are a top quality value based transportation business If it’s in your mind that you’re going to drive around and you know not pick up the phone or not get out of the van and not greet our passengers help them to the vehicle, help them with their seatbelts, secure them safely in their wheelchair.

If that’s not something that you’re willing to do, you saw something you’re excited to do, please don’t work here. That’s fine. It’s okay. We’re not mad. You know, we have a 90 day probationary period because you may start to think you like it. And then about three months in, the varnish starts to wear off when you’re stuck in traffic on 93.

If you’re not liking it, please don’t work here. It’s okay, right? Because we want to be able to hire and retain the best quality individuals and you either have it or you don’t, right? You’re either a caring person who drives well or, you know, maybe this isn’t for you. So the people that kind of do make it through the onboarding process and do make it through the probationary period stay here for quite a long time.

We have, you know, folks who have been here as drivers. Handful, about 15 years, many more of them over 10 years, and people really care about the mission, what we’re doing here, and what we’re doing is essentially providing freedom to accessible transportation. Um, everybody has a right to move about freely, and we want to provide that bridge to people’s care through chair car transportation to their appointments.

We want to provide that bridge to going to the supermarket, to, Going up to New Hampshire for an afternoon to see the Leaves because, you know, they’ve been in a nursing home or something similar for, you know, several months and we want to get them out and we want them to have fun.

John and Connie: And, and that brings us to the, to the family aspect again, and on two sides, you know, you’re, you’re transporting people who, who’s oftentimes their family can’t do for them what they want to. And so they’re trusting you to do it. But so there’s that family aspect. And, but you’re also a family business and you guys are working together.

Um, what do you love most about working with family in the business? Working together.

Chris Farrell: Um, well, for me, you know, life is short and we spend the majority of our lives working and it’s just so fantastic and I’m so lucky to be able to spend so much time with my family, with Ed, with Cynthia, my mother, , you know, my wife works, works as part of the business. So just so fortunate to be, you know, around family and, you know, enjoying the work that we do.

 A lot of people see family business and they kind of think oil in the water, right? But, you know, here it’s kind of, you know, oil and gasoline, um, and an engine driving forward. So we work together very, very well. And the, you know, the strength of relationships is important, um, both in family and in business.

And those things feed into one another. If you have strong family relationships, you know, if you have strong business relationships, you can learn from both sides of that coin.

Ed Farrell: And you can’t do, you can’t do everything yourself, um, in, in a business, um, To have someone that you can rely on that’s going to be there that has the same values, the same, shares the same passions, it’s very helpful.

 Hopefully has the same values you’ve raised them. Working with, , a family member, there’s different aspects of, um, of family businesses and we’ve had, you know, we’ve worked together, Chris and I very well in the transportation business, but I also have siblings that I work with that are siblings So it’s there’s a different relationship there between siblings and family members that are direct blood to you, We’ve learned over the years where where the boundaries lie and how to manage their time and manage the um the time spent in business and time spent at home, uh, very well.

 It’s important to separate the two at some point and we’ve learned how to do that.

John and Connie: Okay. Is there a particular challenge that you did overcome that, that is, that, that you’d want to share, that, that other family businesses might learn from?

Ed Farrell: Our biggest challenge was the pandemic. That was our biggest challenge in this business. Um, you know, keeping it together I think back to when we had the pandemic and you can remember when you, you know, you got the Lysol out and sprayed your vegetables. Well, We, continued to work through the pandemic because the people we transport for dialysis and medical care, things like that, they can’t, pandemic or no pandemic, they still have to go and we were all scared.

And you know, we didn’t know what to do. And we have photos of, um, we got these machines, these foggers, and in between every trip, we would have to fog the vehicle with this special chemical that kills everything, you know, um. any viruses or whatever and Well, that’s a huge undertaking With so many vehicles on the road or whatever and it was Chris was doing it.

I had my daughter Jessica doing it That was my son my son Edward was here helping so it was all hands on deck. It’s kind of like You know with family businesses a farm. Let’s say you you sell pumpkins. You grow pumpkins Well, everybody works when it’s Halloween and that’s what we did during the pandemic to keep the fleet and the vehicles on the road and keep everybody, um, get to their medical appointments.

And it was a big accomplishment. I’m very proud of the way everybody pulled together and got that done.

John and Connie: Wow. Nice. Yeah, that, that is, I had not thought about what, how the pandemic might have affected you guys. That’s, that had to be huge. Yeah, because you can’t, well, fortunately you couldn’t stop, right? You had to keep going, but you had to really adapt. You had to get, you know, get creative with what you did.

Ed Farrell: Well you couldn’t share vehicles with other people, so it would have single, single use, uh, single riders on the vehicles. Right. Um, whereas you couldn’t, you know, put two people, you know, everybody had to be separated. Um, just, it made a lot of work and everybody came together and we got through it pretty well.

John and Connie: Everybody coming together. That’s one of the, I think, the hallmarks of family business is that, people rise to the occasion when they’re needed, it’s, you know, nobody’s, nobody’s saying, well, that’s not my job, right? Because it’s like

Ed Farrell: There’s no

John and Connie: family,

Ed Farrell: No such thing. Yeah.

John and Connie: Exactly. It’s everybody’s job.

Ed Farrell: This is not a corporation where there’s a job description and people, you know, oh, that’s not my, you know, that’s not my role here. Everybody has a role. Everybody. Everybody is a driver first, and they do what they do second.

John and Connie: Okay. Cool. So you know, we were talking about having the right people in the right seats and going with strengths. So, , within the family, the people that are family that are working in the business, do you have a process for figuring out what roles people need to play?

And is there also multiple role cross training or, you know, how did, how did you figure that part out?

Ed Farrell: It’s simple, you start at the bottom and you work your way up. Um, you gotta learn every aspect of the business. If you, you’re not worth having if you don’t know every little piece of the business. You have to understand it all. Um, it’s not, it’s unlike anything else. Um, if you don’t know, then when someone tells you a story, you don’t know if it’s the truth or not.

John and Connie: Okay. So cross training is the process.

Chris Farrell: It is, it is, and I think to expand upon that as far as, you know, family members in the business and then, you know, recognizing individual strengths, um, it was, there is really no expected succession plan, right? You’re my son, you’re my daughter, you’re working here. , I’ve been told a million times, if you want to do something else, go do it, right?

Um, if this is your passion, then please continue on with, we’d be happy to have you. So there is no, I guess, underlying animosity or, or expectation or, you know, guilt that I would have if this is not something that I wanted to do. Um, you know, Ed’s been very open about that. Cynthia has been very open about that.

Um, so, you know, like our probationary period, we want you here cause you, we want you to be here essentially. Um, and I think that that holds a lot of value. A lot of value and same thing with recognizing strengths, right? Ed’s going to say, all right, Chris is good at, you know, this thing, this thing, this thing, let’s give him the tools, give him the training, you know, the education necessary in order to be the most successful version of that person within the business.

And, you know, I translate that, you know, to the driving staff as well. Um, you know, we have some folks here that work in the office who were drivers and, you know, We’re not going to hold up a piece of paper and say, Hey, where’s your, where’s your bachelor’s degree? Where’s your this, that, or the other thing?

You know, if you were, you know, the type of person who, you know, is a star in a role, let’s say a driver. It’s our belief that you’ll continue to be a star with the proper training and tools, um, no matter which position you’re holding. So we’ve had a lot of folks that were drivers that now work in the, you know, the customer service or the safety department because You know, they’ve already seen the human interaction side of things.

Now, if they can go on the other side of the quality control and the safety aspects, then they can share that knowledge with, you know, the rest of the driving cohort and the driving team. So, um, I think those are, you know, two very important distinctions to make. Um, again, first that it was, you know, never expected or this is what you’ll do now.

You know, your dad was a farmer, so you’re a farmer type situation. Um, It was kind of an open invitation. And if you want to do this, then we’re going to expect everything from you as, as we would any other employee plus a little bit more on top. So it’s been fun.

John and Connie: Oh, man, that is huge. The open invitation. I love that, that phraseology for, for that, that it’s, it’s not that expectation because I think that’s, in fact, I’ve got a great little book called, , Trapped In The Family Business. And this gentleman has explored all these different ways that people feel in some way trapped or guilted into and things like that.

And I, I can speak to that, but I won’t. And, and so, you know, having that open invitation, but also, And then married with that, what you said is, you know, you earn your place, right? You have to, you have to qualify for the job just like anybody else that we’re going to hire. That’s so powerful, not only for the, the younger generation in the family business that now, because of that, knows that they have earned their place.

It wasn’t given to them. And they don’t have any doubt about that. And, and second of all, the, the hired employees, the non-family employees that you’re working alongside, also know that you had to go through the same rigorous process that they did, and, and there’s more respect there, and there’s more, um, yeah, just equality, I guess.

Ed Farrell: You You named it. You named it; it’s the respect you can’t, you earn respect. You don’t get it. It’s not given. Um, and you have to be witnessed, um, in a lot of cases, um, your, your actions, what you do, um, and, and. That’s how it works the best. You know, it’s not always that way, but that’s how it works the best.

Chris Farrell: Yeah, I think, uh, I think it would be a detriment overall for me in my current role.

 You know, leading the operation side of things, if this is where I started, I think it would be, you know, the light shines through, right. When you’re speaking, not from experience and interacting with my office staff or my drivers, it’d be a huge detriment. To me, professionally, it’d be a detriment to the business having, having, having not had that, you know, that background.

So,

John and Connie: Smart!. Is there anything about being in a family business that you know now that you wish you knew back 20 years ago when you started?

Ed Farrell: Everything! When you own a business, a small business, sometimes you try to compare your life to other people. You look around and your wife or whatever, they’ll say, well look at these people, look at those people. You have to put that completely out of your mind.

Don’t try to compare yourselves to others. You have to absorb it and not be aggravated by it. In other words, you have to thrive or embrace it. , there’ll be times, you know, when you’re asked to do things that a normal person wouldn’t do in any other business. And you can let that aggravate you or you can say, well, let’s embrace this. This is just part of, you know, what it is. I’ve decided to do this and I need to embrace it. You embrace the good things and you embrace the bad things. It just, you can’t let it get under your skin. Um, it’s, it’s part of who you are.

John and Connie: Wow. A lot of wisdom there. The maturity is just, on, on, your business maturity is, is outstanding. And, and not just the length of it, but your depth of it. That’s, it’s um, it’s pretty awe inspiring. Thank you. It’s clear to see why you’ve succeeded the way you have.

So what’s the most?

Chris Farrell: uh, a similar experience throughout, Being a new grad as a driver and working my way into, the office and to kind of put it into a phrase, as Ed stated, other’s success is a mirror for you. And a lot of people look at other people’s success and see what they, they themselves have or haven’t done.

And that can be discouraging or it can be motivating. And the way that you, you handle that, that image or that feedback is very important. And, you know, as a, as a young professional in my, in my twenties, you’re looking at friends who, you know, work in corporate America or work in finance and things like that.

And um, you say to yourself, why I work nine to five, I, I work, you know, eight to four, whatever it might be. And that’s not true. Um, you work all the time when you’re really starting out. I started 10 years ago, so halfway through the company’s lifespan essentially, and it was a very busy time.

We were starting a lot of new work, and I was, you know, kind of confronted with a choice to make. Do I, you know, work nine to five and try to shut my phone off, or do I lean into it? And, you know, as Ed said, it’s going to be there when you get back and you turn your phone back on. It’s just going to be a little bit worse.

So, you know, lean into it, embrace it, embrace the challenges, and you’ll learn a lot about business. You’ll learn a lot about yourself. And, um, you know, we’ve gotten to a point now where we have a lot of good folks in the office to help us with those things. And, um,

Ed Farrell: it’s not as bad. It’s not like it was.

It’s not like it was anymore. But I, I, I remark and people say, you know, you’ll, you’ll talk to others and they’ll say, Well, I work 12 hour days. I’ll just look at ’em and say, oh, half a day. Yeah.

John and Connie: Exactly. Exactly.

Ed Farrell: So,

John and Connie: that’s what entrepreneurs do. We work 24/7, right?

Ed Farrell: Yeah. It’s not a, well,

John and Connie: Our phones never off.

Ed Farrell: You only worked half the day. Yeah.

John and Connie: I love that. Exactly. That’s an awesome perspective right there.

Chris Farrell: Yeah.

John and Connie: Yes. So what’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned from your employees? Or from a single employee?

Chris Farrell: One thing that resonates with me is, you know, we were talking to the, to the driving staff and. One of the statements that the driver has made, it’s very simple, but um, He just said when you do everything with love, it’s simple. That’s it. And that’s, that’s what really stuck, stuck with me and stood out.

He’s been a driver here for eight years and you know, we’re asking him, what do you like about working here? You know, it’s tough in the winter time in New England and you’re in snow and you’re digging your van out and you still can’t be late because it’s snowed because we’re transportation professionals and we have a promise to our people.

And he said, Chris, you know, Hey, when you do everything with love, it’s simple. And uh, that really stuck with me, really stuck with me.

John and Connie: So, that’s, that’s, that’s a great question. Yeah, that’s powerful. Is, is that, did he, how do I ask this? Did he develop that, did that come from him personally or is that part of your culture?

Or

Chris Farrell: to think it’s a little bit of both. Um, you know, like I said, you know, everybody understands the mission. People who are here, they want to be here. They want to make sure that somebody’s mom, dad, grandmother is getting the best care possible, the best transportation and safest transportation possible.

And I think that they feel that way because them, they themselves are people of value. So they’re providing value to the people that they pick up. And, you know, like I said, when we hire, that’s, that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for quality people to put behind the wheel of quality vehicles to do the best job that we can.

And, uh, so I think, I think it’s a bit of both. I think it’s a bit of both and it’s kind of lent itself to the, to the culture here. And, uh, we’re very fortunate to have that.

John and Connie: Yeah,

Ed Farrell: It’s the people that you have working for you as a, as a, as a whole that really makes the company as well. So, um, does it come from the company or does it come from the person?

Um,

John and Connie: it’s kind of like a circle, isn’t it? The people are the culture and the culture defines the people. Exactly.

Ed Farrell: yeah.

John and Connie: Very nice. That is so cool. What a lovely lesson. So, uh, as far as other family businesses, do you guys network? And I think I know part of the answer to this because of our conversation, but do you network with other family businesses?

Ed Farrell: Uh, I, it’s funny you ask that. We have a breakfast club in my office, where there’s many people that I’ve met throughout my career. We’ll come, they’ll sit down, we’ll talk about their struggles, my struggles, you know, kind of venting, let’s say, , at some point. , but it’s a breakfast club and, , there’ll be people that’ll come and, uh, to my place and we talk.

They could be masons, they could be builders, they could be In many different businesses, , flower business. , these people come, they, hey, how you doing, sit down, just start talking. We can vent back and forth a bit. But I think we learn from each other a bit as well. And, um, if I can give some advice, let’s say for an insurance issue, or a, um, a banking issue, or things that I’ve picked up along the way, or a tax issue, um, You know, I’ll share with them, they’ll share with me.

Yeah, you do learn from talking to other people that are in small business.

John and Connie: Very cool. Very cool. And, and sometimes, when we’re talking to someone in our own, or when we’re hearing the example that’s, that’s in our own vertical, we personalize it so much, we, we miss the point. And so hearing somebody from another, uh, a different kind of industry and completely talk about a similar problem, it frames it in a way that we can see it clearer too.

I love that. The Breakfast Club.

Ed Farrell: Yep.

John and Connie: So, you guys are in the, all of New England. You’re based just outside Boston, but you cover all of New England. How

do, how do people, like if, if somebody’s up in New Hampshire, and they need, I mean, I’m, I’m ignorant of distances, sorry. Vermont, New Hampshire, I’d think of those as farther north than Boston, but I may be wrong.

But somebody distant, you know, several hundred miles from your main office.

What do they do?

Chris Farrell: So, The majority of the work that we do, we’re contracted with facilities, with hospitals, things of that nature. Um, so a lot of their rides are set up through the facilities that they’re visiting and that they will contact they being the facilities will contact us to set up transportation for them.

Um, we also have, you know, contact us or book with us portals on our website. They can call us six days a week. You know, from 6am to 6 pm at 781 316 0400. Our website is www. RideWithATS. com. So there’s a lot of useful information there. And, you know, we get a lot of general inquiries, whether it’s, as I stated before, a medical appointment, or, you know, a private paid fun run, where they just want to get mom and dad, you know, out for the day.

 And we have, you know, LinkedIn and Facebook. So we, we try to cover all of our bases as far as providing updates to the employees through multiple avenues and also, you know, to our clients. And, , as far as, you know, the scope of our work, we go everywhere. There’s, there’s really nowhere in New England that we don’t go.

Chris Farrell: Um, some things in my mind stick out where, you know, on one day, I believe 3 weeks ago we were in. New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and we’re discharging somebody to New Jersey. So we, we go far. Um, if there’s a need, if there’s somebody who needs to make it either home or to their appointment, we will take you.

We have, as I stated, a great dedicated driving staff. I remember a story where we had a passenger who was an hour and a half north of Montreal, Canada. But was still somehow in Maine. Um, and they had a four o’clock pickup in the morning. So our driver left their home 10 o’clock the previous day, 10 o’clock pm. Drove through the night, hit a snow squall, went about 50 ft off the highway, called himself a tow truck, got winched out, continued up north, picked the gentleman up, drove him down to Boston, called in to say, Chris, I need a front end alignment. And, uh, About a mirror replaced on the van. We fixed it for him and we went home.

So, when I say everyone understands the mission, that is, that is truly the definition of the mission.

John and Connie: Yes, indeed. Yes, indeed. Kind of sounds like a Florida driver need not apply, but

maybe that’s just me. Oh, goodness. And we don’t do good in snow. That a wonderful example. Thank you so much. Well, we, this has been, thank you so much for spending this time with us. Yeah. This has been absolutely wonderful.

We’re excited to, , promote, and give you a little bit of extra exposure.

I think you got some really wonderful, I wanted to congratulate you again, both Mm-Hmm. on the, uh, the TD Bank Takeover and the, you know, the publicity from that and the well deserved recognition. Mm-Hmm. that was awesome.

Chris Farrell: Thank you.

Thank very much.

John and Connie: That video. on your website is, , is fabulous.

Really wonderful . Yeah.

Everybody wishes They had that.

Chris Farrell: They did a good job and, uh, the folks that I had asked, you know, for the driving staff to be in it and, again, kind of open invitation, they took to it and, and during the shoot, the gentleman in the beginning of the video making his coffee, um, you know, he had asked the film crew, what do you, what do you hope to capture?

And they were outside in his driveway and they said, well, we want to kind of get a day in the life of a driver. He said, it’s going to be really hard to do that from outside of my house. Why don’t you guys come in? I’m about to have a coffee. So, you know, just kind of the, the personal aspect. He understood, again, the mission, what we were trying to accomplish.

And, uh, just a good guy, good guy overall. And, uh, fortunate to have him as well as me. All the employees here. So it was a good video. They did a great job. The production quality was fantastic. It was overwhelming. Actually, the whole experience.

And what we, what we really hope to accomplish from that is yes, it’s great for alternative transportation, but we want to call to attention the industry and the fact that non-emergency medical transportation is out there and tying it back to the family aspect. It is a growing issue and challenge. Where mom or dad are aging, they have a medical appointment, and, you know, siblings and children and siblings are saying who’s going to take mom, who’s going to take dad, don’t worry about it, just call alternative transportation, let our family take care of yours, we’ll make sure they get there, you can go to work, I promise you they’re going to have the best drivers, the best vehicles, and we’ll take care of them like they’re our own, because, I think Uncle Sam uses us sometimes.

John and Connie: Having been there, I get it and I agree and there were times when, later on, um, my mother was in assisted living and it got to where it wasn’t safe for us to try to get her in and out of a vehicle, um,

Ed Farrell: No, you cannot.

John and Connie: We, we needed somebody that was trained and had the right equipment.

Yeah. So, um, I, you know, my hat’s off to you guys for what you’re doing. Yeah.

Ed Farrell: Well, I’m getting older, you know, and I kind of figured that, um, looking forward, this is a forward thinking project so that this business gets good enough, you know, if I need it, I’ll be, I’ll be all set.

John and Connie: That’s right. Maybe they’ll give you your own driver.

Chris Farrell: I don’t know. I don’t I don’t know about that.

John and Connie: Alright. Well, awesome. Thank you so much again.

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