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From www.niagara-gazette.com

Bringing 'A Dependable Ride' to North Tonawanda and beyond

BUSINESS: Medical transportation company marks one year in business.

When A Dependable Ride opened for business in North Tonawanda a year ago, it only had two drivers and its mission was to ensure those without transportation of their own never had to worry about missing a doctor's appointment.

 

But now, as of their one-year anniversary, which was observed on July 10, the company has expanded to employ and contract with numerous drivers.

 

According to Tina Sims, who helps in the office, their first six months in business were slow-rolling. They were just getting the business grounded, she said, and they were focused on getting their operation off the ground.

 

But about six months in, everything changed.

 

"(We've had) such growth in the first year," she said. "We definitely have doubled our business, probably a little more than that, in this year. We started off with two vehicles, we currently have 17."

 

She added that the business, which started with only herself and owner Nathan Merchant in the office, has now grown to include a billing and accounts rep Syreeta Williams, an HR Director Rachel Carr, a head of dispatch Tanika Baker along with Deshaad Williams as second dispatcher.

 

On Friday, A Dependable Ride hosted a grand reopening to celebrate its first year on the road, and the success they'd found along the way. They cut a ribbon outside their offices, located at 525 Wheatfield St., joined by their staff, drivers, local officials and members of the Chamber of Commerce.

 

A Dependable Ride provides transportation to and from medical appointments for those who are unable to get to appointments on their own, either because they cannot or do not drive or because they don't have access to public transportation.

She added that while the company primarily works with Medicaid patients, they're now able to accommodate various private insurance companies as well. In addition, they're not only filling a need for transportation services in North Tonawanda, but they also work with clients outside of the immediate community.

 

"We have someone ... he lives in Dunkirk, so (the driver) will drive out there, We're all about being accommodating."

 

Employees say A Dependable Ride is not only a successful business, but also a great place to work. Sims said the secret to their success has been being able to create a family atmosphere among the staff and the contractors that work for them.

 

Drivers say they really enjoy working for the company and that they've really gotten to know many of their clients. Some clients specifically request their favorite drivers.

 

One driver, Hapi Champagne, says she has favorites as well and that she's built a good rapport with her regular passengers. She said she's come to see several of them as friends.

 

"I love it. I've met a lot of people from different walks of life," Champagne said. "I've built a lot of relationships with people, it's not, 'Hey, get in the van and let's go.' It's, 'Hey, how are you doing?' It's a great company ... it's the best job I've ever had."

 

For more information on A Dependable Ride, give them a call at 423-2323.

 

UPDATE: This story has been updated to include the names of additional personnel and to clarify the relationship between the business owners.