HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - EcoCab carried its first customers last September with only seven vehicles. Nine months later the fleet has tripled in size.
The company is locally owned and not a franchise. It's Hawaii's first all-hybrid taxi fleet. The cars may look the same, but the way the business does business is different.
"I guess the popular term these days is a disrupter. I guess I see myself to some extent as a disrupter because it has never been done," owner David Jung said.
Jung is a lawyer who always had an itch to start his own company. He wants to set a new standard in what he believes is a conservative cab industry.
His cars have security cameras, hot spots for personal electronic devices, and customized movies and music.
"The tablet, we have loaded it with videos and other apps like Pandora. That's one of the most popular features for our customers because they want to listen to their own music, not the driver's music," Jung said.
The biggest difference is behind the wheel. EcoCab employs its drivers.
Other cab companies work with independent contractors. That's been the standard. The Cab president Howard Higa believes contractors are more committed.
"They have their own business license, licensed by the state and they work harder. They work twelve hours, thirteen, fourteen hours a day because it is their business," he said.
But you can't argue with EcoCab's growth spurt, from 400 dispatch calls the first month to 400 a day.
"Our biggest increase is not from anyone other than the local repetitive customers," Jung said.
EcoCab is hiring more drivers and planning to move to a bigger space.
"We're ramping up and adding another eleven cars to bring our total up to 32 cars," driver Eric McMahon said.
That pales in comparison to competitors whose taxi fleets number in the hundreds. But nowadays you see EcoCabs everywhere.
"One of my major goals is not to be voted Hawaii's best business of the year. I want to be voted Hawaii's best employer of the year," Jung said.
That may happen down the road, but for now the new cab on the curb is green and growing.