ECN Interview by Arthur Bloberger
ECN: Thank you, Steve Moroney and Chad Taylor (pictured above) for chatting with us about your new Experience Transport Agency – ETA, double entendre, I’m sure that wasn’t by accident.
Chad Taylor: By design, by Chad Taylor. Funny, the state wasn’t going to let us have the name because it was too close to the industry so they almost didn’t let us have it. But they figured out they couldn’t really block it, so we got it.
ECN: So let’s start with you, Chad. Tell us, what’s your background, what brought you to Las Vegas, how long have you been here, etc.?
CT: I’m a California kid, born in northern California—Yreka (in the Redding, Calif., area). My father was in the resort industry, worked on the marina, on houseboats, that sort of thing. He ended up moving out here to Lake Mead, working on Callville Bay – Cottonwood Cove on Lake Mojave – so when I was 16, I came out here to visit him on my first visit to Las Vegas and stayed here for the summer. Went back and finished high school and after high school, I came back out to work for him at Lake Mead at Callville Bay Marina. That was in 1996. So, I worked out there for about a year and a half on the marina—we rebuilt Echo Bay, and then I worked my way into town. Then I had a friend who had just bought a limo and asked if I wanted to drive for him. So I said, “Absolutely!” I was 20 years old and I started driving the limo for him in town—it was the first 31-foot stretched white Hummer limousine that Las Vegas had ever seen. I wasn’t quite old enough to be out on the club scene yet but that’s where I was. I did that for a while and truly enjoyed it. I had a blast delivering a Vegas style experience to people coming into town. Did that for about a year and a half and then I took a break from the nightlife industry and got into printing and marketing.
ECN: When did you meet Steve?
CT: Steve and I met each about six years ago. Tony Hsieh from Zappo’s is a friend of mine and I do a lot of print marketing for Zappo’s. I printed and produced all their events from 2005-2015. Being in the event production business, the creative side of it, for ten years, transportation was always a problem. I wanted to go back and fix it and make it better because I understand it. Came across Steve who wanted to get into transportation more—he was a driver for Tony, so I actually met him on Tony’s bus and we started planning. After about three years of talking about it, we finally decided to hunker down and throw some money at it, put some more time and energy into it and we did. After applying for the license, it took us two years to actually get approved by the Nevada Transportation Authority (which governs limo licenses for the state of Nev.). We were licensed on February 10, 2017.
ECN: Congratulations again. Let’s backtrack here and get Steve in. Same questions – what’s your background, what brought you to Las Vegas, how long have you been here, etc.?
Steve Moroney: Canadian-born, San Diego-raised, got bit by the music bug. Against my parents’ will, I moved to Los Angeles and played in various rock bands. I started touring the country and fell in love with buses as an entertainer riding behind the curtain, so to speak. We lost our record deal in 1997, but I was really passionate about learning how to drive coaches. So the guy that we were renting buses from, I kinda BS’d him and said that I had a bus license and he started letting me drive buses locally without a license. I kinda figured it out in the seat and it went real well so I went and got my license and started doing entertainer tours. I pulled a lot of entertainers throughout North America and then – I had moved to Iowa at the time, right before I started driving for Tony [Hseish, Zappo’s CEO]. We collided through mutual friend in Los Angeles, he made me a good offer, so I moved out here and sold my bus—actually he bought my bus from me a year and a half later – I’ve been driving six and a half years for him. Chad and I collided through a Zappo’s event…
ECN: Chad said you met on a bus.
SM: Yes, the bus was at one of Tony’s events and we were introduced on the bus. It’s a funny thing back on our timeline, when he was a young guy working for the limousine company with that big Hummer, we were both on the same job together with Dennis Rodman. I was pulling Dennis Rodman for eight days out in California on an NWO wrestling thing—I saw Karl Malone and him. Chad had him during the weekend, I just brought him out after the event from Newport, Calif., and I dropped him off at the Hard Rock and Chad had him all weekend.
CT: I picked him up at the Hard Rock and had him and Carmen Electra in the car with me. So, I saw his bus and he saw my car but we never met and this is 15 years before we actually met. We were just 100 feet away from each other.
ECN: Amazing. But when you finally did meet, what kind of rapport did you have with each other?
CT: You can tell good energy when you meet somebody. You can tell when somebody is a good person or not and when I met him, he was a good person. Having Steve as a business partner is amazing because he allows me to be with my family. So that’s one of the important pieces of this partnership as well. Because my family is the most important. I get to go home and be a dad every night and he picks up the slack. I’ve been married for almost 20 years with two kids. And Steve’s a bachelor who’s looking (if you want to put that in the story).
ECN: So you started talking right away about business ideas?
CT: Yes, the goal is not to just come in and be a limo company. We said, okay, we’re going to do this, let’s do it different than anybody else. So, how do we do that? Let’s do brand immersion—everybody wants an experience—it’s the new, hot word these days. Look through anything. Experience, experience, experience–it’s how the person felt. So, with the event stuff that I was planning, I said, why don’t we have the event—instead of transportation getting you to the event, what if the event started when you got on the transportation and it became part of the event? So, that your experience would start sooner and you’d remember that instead of it just being a car or bus that got you to and from. And that’s really where we got the ETA concept from–Experience Transport Agency–we can get you to and from but we’d rather put together some type of experience for your guest. And that’s where we’re going with it.
ECN: All right, tell us about this customized experience for your guests inside your Mercedes Sprinters.
CT: The limo style vehicle is almost done – it’s had its day, and the new generation wants something more interactive, more comfortable, more user-friendly. And the limo doesn’t fit that–but these vehicles you can stand up inside of them, play video games on the TVs, have LED window panels, it fits better. The experience for us is—you call us and you have an event. And your message that you’re trying to send with this event is—we will take and brand the interior and exterior of the vehicle, along with the music, the video messaging and whatever takeaways you need. So, when that vehicle shows up, it represents your company’s message and what you want to deliver, not ETA.
SM: It’s not about us.
CT: ETA is just the delivery system of your brand. And that’s how we differ from most. So, our pricing is in line with everybody else’s but we make a separate margin because we put more effort into the branding elements of it and do that all in house. So when your vehicle shows up, it has your logo on it, instead of being some other guy’s limo, it’s your logo—and that has an effect on people.
ECN: So, that’s the business-to-business end of it. And you do the customizing with pillows, carpets….
SM: Pillows, carpets, tchotchkes, mints, uniforms, cups, roll-out rugs, you name it, any branding element you want…
ECN: How much/percentage of your business is B2B now as opposed to private usage – clients who just want to drive around in the pretty black, shiny thing?
SM: Most of it!
CT: About 70-80 percent. Typical of the street business is an $80-120 ride and they’ll do two to five of those a night in a typical limo setting. Our business is $5,000-$10,000/weekend for a company to have two to three vehicles at their disposal to move their people with their message and keep everything coherent and cohesive. The Las Vegas Valley is now a $1 billion/year business in transportation. And there are three families that have 70 percent of that business. Now, with Uber and Lyft, there are three families and two companies that have 90 percent of that business. That leaves the other 10 percent for the other limo companies to chase the scraps. But we have a lot of ideas that are outside of transportation. They have to do with advertising and transportation just happens to be the delivery method.
ECN: So, obviously, your vehicles are the way to go for the Millennials and the older generations, too, for comfort and safety. Tell me about the safety…
CT: Our maintenance programs–every day those vehicles are checked through. Whereas Uber and Lyft, those vehicles are not checked. The driver can be high, drunk, hung over, driven too many hours and you’re putting your life into his hands for a couple of bucks. Ours: state, county, federal, drug-tested, overly-insured ($5 million policies), overly compliant—we don’t mess around with safety. You get into our cars, you’re safe.
ECN: Although a new company, you’ve already started to give back to the community.
CT: One of the programs that we’re doing is working with senior living communities in Anthem and Summerlin to try and get people down to dinner more. So, we have six and eight passenger vehicles that we’re utilizing for this service. It’s something I see growing in the near future. The older generation doesn’t really want to use Uber or Lyft because they don’t trust it—which I can understand. Two, they usually want to go with another group or two, which also makes it cost-effective. And that way you can get into Vegas and back out of Vegas and home safely without having to worry about driving or driving at night. That’s what we’re being told–“we can’t drive at night.” So, if a bunch of couples get together and say, “Let’s go out and see a dinner and a show” and it’s like $20/person for transportation and we can go out for a dinner and a show in this beautiful vehicle.
ECN: Plus, you’ve been providing free rides for Opportunity Village?
CT: It’s whenever people sign up. We offer free transportation to and from your business to Opportunity Village for up to 14 people who want to go and experience and take the tour that Marty Wood provides at Opportunity Village. So, if your company wants to do a team building—I truly believe it’s life-changing when you go and experience that—it’s humbling, it’s great team building, it reminds you when you wake up in the morning that life is good no matter what. There are a lot of people who have a lot more struggles than we do, so ETA offers that as a free service to any company that wants to go experience that. I also have Mentor Empire, which is a clothing line—sales for social impact. So, I sell clothing—hats, T-shirts—and I use that money to pull kids off the streets, pay for detox, get them in a rehab facility, get them back with their families if they have them, find them work, schedule some goals, and put them in motion to become productive members of society.
ECN: Kudos. How fast do you see the company growing? Are you jumping on it or are you taking it conservatively? What are your immediate plans?
SM: We’ve been going heavy on the growth pattern but you have to pull back the reins. Working with Chad is tough to keep up with because he’s always going.
CT: I want to see 50 Sprinters in the first five years—that would be the ultimate goal for me. Because once you get to 10 or 15, now it’s compounding. You need a fleet to grow in this town. When tradeshows and conventions bring in 150,000+ people, some of those groups are 2,000-3,000 people per group and when you get called by a company to move a group of 2-3,000 people, a few Sprinters isn’t going to cut it. So, if you want to be able to take on this city, you have to grow. So, we’d like to see 50 within 5 years.
SM: Go big or go home.
For more info on the Experience Transportation Agency, visit www.ETARIDES.com.