C&H Taxi marks 30th birthday

By Paul Fallon
Bob Wojcieszak
Jeb Corey, CEO of C&H Taxi, is seen here standing next to some of the cabs owned by the company. The cab company turns 30 years old this month.
C&H Taxi is the longest uninterrupted cab service in the history of the city. Pictured above is some of the company memorabilia collected over the past three decades.
CHARLESTON, W.Va.-- For more than a quarter century, C&H Taxi of Charleston has been at the call of residents around Kanawha County.The company is celebrating its 30th birthday this month, Chief Executive Officer Jeb Corey said. The company's 30 years represent the longest uninterrupted taxi service in the city, President Richard Corey said.The company got its name from Tom Craft and Cletus Hanley, who started the company in October 1981.  The Corey brothers, Richard, Steve and Bob, bought the company in 1982, Richard said. Jeb is Richard's son.
The family had run Corey Brothers Produce in the city since 1919 but did not know anything about the taxicab business, he said.      The idea for the purchase came as Steve returned home from Dallas. He was unable to get a cab after he landed at Yeager Airport, Richard said."And he said that the one thing this town needs is a taxi company," Richard said.Richard said two taxicab companies operated in the city at the time. But one was embroiled in a labor dispute, and the other, C&H, had only two cars.Now, the company operates 27 taxicabs around the city, Jeb said. The company operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.The taxicab business is not an easy one to operate in, Jeb said. The company is beset by regulations on the state level and significant insurance requirements, he said."People think that in the taxicab business they just have to take people from Point A to Point B," Jeb said. "But there's a lot more to it than that."Taxicab companies have come and gone in Charleston, Richard said. In the 1950s, there were six companies operating here, he said. Now there is only one.Richard said he was very proud of operating the company for three decades. He is also proud of the fact that in those 30 years there has never been a serious accident involving the company's cabbies."We've never had an accident that even involved a broken bone," Richard said.
Innovations have helped the Charleston businessmen keep the company up and running over the past 30 years, Jeb said.The company used Ford taxicabs until the owners purchased 12 flashy Peugeots from France in 1984. The high-powered diesel cars stuck out, and that helped drum up businesses, Jeb said."The Peugeots put us on the map," Richard said.
Bob said the company was the first to install air conditioning in its cabs.Richard and his brothers networked with members of what was then known as the Southern Taxicab Association to learn the ropes. He credits the association with teaching the brothers how to operate effectively and efficiently and keep profits to the point where the company can still operate."We exchanged information and we learned how to get better," Richard said.
The brothers learned things like how to buy fuel at bulk rates to save money.The company's cabbies are not actual employees of C&H. Instead, they are independent contractors who lease the cabs.A total of 65 drivers split time in the 27 taxicabs operated by the company.  Although the company is 30 years old, the innovations continue to make a difference. Jeb joined the family business in 2001 after graduating from West Virginia University with a bachelor's degree in business administration with an emphasis in marketing.Jeb, who has had a knack for technology since he was young, created a computer network for the company. This helped make the business more efficient, he said.The dispatch system was computerized last year."This helps us to keep track of all the calls that come into the office," Jeb said. "So, if we get behind, we can make adjustments."The innovations will continue to be rolled out to keep the business going into the future, Jeb said. The cars will be installed with GPS devices tracked by a central computer.The computer will know exactly where every car is located and where the customers are waiting to be picked up. The computer then can choose the closest car for the pickup, Jeb said."This will be a phenomenal improvement," he said.Another announcement on technology could come as early as the middle of next week, Jeb said. He would not be more specific except to say, "We'll be having a new vehicle hitting the road in a couple of weeks."The birthday celebration for the company will be low-key, Jeb said. In fact, no formal celebration is being planned."We're going to have shirts printed up for the drivers," he said.     Contact writer Paul Fallon at paul.fallon@dailymail.com or 304-348-4817. 
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