With the restructuring of our dues for 2018, we’re interviewing members who've chosen the Leadership membership-service level to hear what they have to say about their work and what TLPA does for their companies.
Up until his first TLPA meeting—Carl Ward had never been in an airplane. In fact, he hadn't really been outside of the Newport, Kentucky, area much at all. But various cab companies in Kentucky were looking to create a state taxi association, and they needed to start somewhere. So, Ward stepped onto a plane, bound for a conference in Boston, Massachusetts. It was the 1970s, and he was a 30-something transportation executive who was about to join an organization that he says changed his life.
The meeting was full of friendly faces, and a couple of gentleman from Dayton, Ohio, took Carl under their wings.
"They were as good as people as you ever wanted to meet," Ward says.
From there, Ward grew a long career in transportation that has since mirrored the association's growth in many ways. At that time in the 1970s, Ward was managing his company's transition from employees to independent contractors. In need of assistance and guidance, he looked to the association, then named the International Taxicab Association (ITA).
"The ITA was a big help—it was the association of members that knew how to do things I would've never known how to do. They gave us a big boost when it counted," Ward said.
It was an early indicator of what grew into Ward's philosophy: Even good, strong companies need to switch things up from time to time. His plan was to start a new venture related to transportation every five or so years. That idea came in part because of the information he learned from his peers in the association.
In his first venture, Ward began a paratransit service, mostly because he had heard other TLPA members talk about their services. In 1984, he purchased a van service for airline crews. Four years after that, he started a limousine and sedan service. In 1993, he launched a motor coach business. In 2001, the company began an airport shuttle service.
Some of those operations have since been sold, but they all were successful, and they all came about after careful counsel provided by fellow TLPA members. That counsel, he maintains, is simply the greatest value the association has provided his family-owned company over the last 40 years.
"All I knew was taxis, but being a member of this association has taught me a lot more than that," Ward says. "A whole lot of my good fortune and good business has been because of the TLPA."
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