Small towns are not typically hubs for entrepreneurial success; however, when Kevin McCarley saw a need for safe transportation, he got to work on his business.
Today, his original company, Tiger Transportation, has expanded to Tiger Taxi, Tiger Limo and Tiger Charter Bus. McCarley has opened a hot dog stand among his transportation businesses.
McCarley originally formulated the idea for Tiger Transportation when he noticed the high rate of driving under the influence in downtown Auburn.
“It all started with one taxi and an idea to make a difference in Auburn.” McCarley said. “There was nothing here. I saw people drinking and driving, and I saw there was a chance to help students feel safe and for their parents to know that their kids were safe.”
Today, the company is 12 years old and thriving, but it was not always smooth sailing for the entrepreneur.
McCarley wanted to ensure his customers had the best experience, so he worked tirelessly to make it happen.
“I was working like a madman the first few years to ensure every thing was a great experience for them,” he said. “Those years, I regularly worked 80-90 hours, and I still work those hours during the fall semester.”
McCarley said he is confident the changes and upgrades he’s made in the first few years made the company stand out as the best in the area.
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He said he makes an effort to know each one of his drivers. McCarley said he genuinely feels they each are trustworthy and great people to have working for him.
Growing up, he said he always had the spirit of an entrepreneur and enjoyed finding ways to solve problems.
“I always wanted to start my own business,” he said. “When I was 6 years old, I had the first lemonade stand on the golf course in my neighborhood.”
McCarley said on his first day he sold out of lemonade but realized it was because his dad had asked his friends to come. This upset McCarley.
“I wanted to be successful on my own, and that made starting Tiger Taxi years later so important to me,” he said.
McCarley saw this business as a way not to benefit himself, but to serve his community.
“As an Auburn grad, I have always loved the people and the city,” he said. “When it came to starting my business I wanted to serve the people that I feel closest to, and that meant staying right here in the best place in the world.”
McCarley’s small-town start-up has grown to be a success. The limo and charter bus section of his company is now in Columbus, Georgia, Montgomery, Opelika and other places besides the Au- burn area.
“We hope to continue to offer more services and do more special trips,” he said. “Our trips to Callaway Gardens Fantasy in Lights has been a popular trip since we started, and we are always open for new events to partner with and serve.”
Aside from promoting safe and fun transportation, McCarley has also recently opened a hot dog cart.
“Award Wieners, the hot dog cart, is just an opportunity that I saw and decided to provide this service to help feed students that want quick, easy food options,” he said.
McCarley said there is still growth to be done in this business because it is still in its infancy. Since finding the right employees, the business has been running more smoothly, he said.
“I have big plans for getting more involved in the food business, and this was proof that what I’ve been working on can succeed,” McCarley said. “I would like to start serving either dumplings or bahn mi sandwiches.”
He said the whole reason for starting this was to bring something new to the area and told customers to look for new food items to appear on the hot dog cart in the near future.
Overall, McCarley said he enjoys being his own boss and encouraged other entrepreneurs to take action in their plans.
“If you see an opportunity, jump on it,” he said.
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