By Turney Stevens
We’re hearing a lot these days about post-retirement careers. We’re also hearing a lot about later life entrepreneurs.
Carl Haley knows about both.
After he and his colleagues sold AIM Healthcare, Carl found himself with a lot of years still ahead, some cash, and a world of experience. What does one do under those circumstances? Start a new business, of course.
But the business that Carl Haley decided to start is in one of the most unlikely of industry segments: ground transportation. That’s code for taking individuals and groups from point A to point B. Think Lincoln Town Cars from the airport to a hotel. Think small buses to local and out of town events. Think big buses.
This is neither a new business nor a particularly glamorous one, at least it was not very glamorous until Carl Haley got into it. He recognized several key things as he was contemplating his venture:
· Music City was about to become Mega City with the opening of the new Music City Center convention space. Thousands descending weekly on the city to attend meetings meant that the space was destined to grow. Carl bet it was going to grow dramatically. And nearly every one of those visitors on expense accounts needed a ride from somewhere to someplace.
· The ground transportation business was very much unconsolidated. He knew his competitors would be taxi cab drivers, a few one-car chauffeurs, a couple of bus operators. Nobody really operated a big business, at least not in Nashville. Scalability was not only possible, it was just waiting to be done.
· He knew there was a tremendous opportunity to build a brand. Nobody in Nashville had even come close to doing that in this segment. He also knew no one was harnessing the new power of online scheduling, of social media, of smartphone apps.
With this knowledge in hand, he put together a business plan and, at a point in life when most of his peers were driving out to the Golf Club of Tennessee for an afternoon on the links, he founded Grand Avenue Transportation.
Haley is President and CEO of Grand Avenue, founded in 2009. He is a graduate of George Mason University with a degree in information services. He and his wife, Connie, reside in Franklin with two dogs, two peacocks and “several horses.”
Our guest this week on Conversations with the Dean is Carl Haley.