New taxi business hopes to fight competition

By Gus Bode

Rob Taylor found inspiration for his taxi from an unusual source – Chancellor Walter Wendler.

When Taylor, a veteran commercial driver, decided to open his business, he said he chose a Crown Victoria, the same car the chancellor drives.

“I told him, ‘I’m going to let them know that I chose a Crown Victoria because you look so good driving one,'” he said, joking. “Well, his wife just lost it laughing.”


Wisecracks aside, Taylor’s new taxi service, Moonlight Taxi, is a recent product of the Small Business Development Center.

Now, the center is hoping to help others like him pursue their dreams, said Greg Bouhl, a counselor at the center.

The center has helped start local businesses, such as Blue Sky Vineyard, Whiffleboy’s Pizza, HeadQuarters and B & J Computers, to name a few.

Bouhl said about one-fourth of the people who start by taking a free class offered by the center advising potential small business owners actually see their plan through to fruition.

“That’s kind of the basis of our class,” Bouhl said. “There’s no shortage of good ideas, but there are a lot of demands, and there’s a lot of homework you have to do to get to that point.”

Taylor worked with the center through the process and received his taxi license on Friday.

Taylor worked for a local cab company for seven years intermittently and continues to work for Saluki Mass Transit.


Though he acknowledges there is competition, he said he has a unique approach to taxi service.

“My approach is very much like what the small airlines are doing with the big airlines,” Taylor said. “I’m going to give the best customer service I can during the night and in the area of Carbondale.”

He said he primarily focuses on people who are trying to get home safely and only operates the cab Tuesday through Saturday from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Jeremy Hayes, economic development manager of Carbondale, said finding a niche is often how smaller businesses compete with those with more resources.

“Some chains and franchises either don’t have the expertise or familiarity,” he said. “In that sense, there will always be great opportunities for local people to start businesses, even in light of the saturation of chains.”

However, Hayes said defining a “local” business has become increasingly difficult because many local people purchase franchises, often observable in restaurants.

He said he has been overwhelmed with a positive response from riders.

Hayes pointed to several businesses, including Neon Internet, which started locally and have been very successful.

“I would say that there are plenty of small businesses in Carbondale that have prospered over time and have really shown their growth potential,” Hayes said.

Taylor said his first week being his own boss, while still double-timing as a Saluki Mass Transit bus driver, a job he said he really enjoys, has only been hampered by one error.

The business cards Taylor ordered had the incorrect phone number. Though his phone number is 528-9990, one number was changed on the card. The new number directed callers to an attorney.

“He was really cool. He got a kick out of it,” Taylor said. “He called me and said ‘How’d you do? I got four calls last night.”

Bouhl said anyone interested in starting a small business should call the center at 536-2424 or visit the Web site at

Reporter Kate Galbreath can be reached at [email protected]