By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Shrewsbury – As a college student, Michael Hogan wrote a business plan as an assignment for an economics class. His idea was for a shared ride service.
“My professor, Curtis Derby, asked me if I was serious about it,” he recalled. “He thought it was a great idea and encouraged me to pursue it.”
Although he was only 21 years old, Hogan decided to follow that advice and opened his fledging business in his hometown of Grafton.
And now 30 years later, his company, Knight’s Airport Limousine Service, is not only the area’s leading ground transportation service, it has also become a leader in green technology by using energy efficient fuels in its 50-plus vehicle fleet.
In those early years, it was a “struggle,” Hogan admitted, as he attempted to establish his company, with three vans and only one other employee besides himself. He credited Grafton businessman Charlie Bolack for helping him obtain a loan and his late father, Eugene, for his support as well.
“My dad was a guidance counselor at Ashland High School,” Hogan said, “and helped me financially as well as with business advice.”
In 2006 the company moved to its 390 Hartford Turnpike (Route 20) location in Shrewsbury.
The company now has a staff of 140 employees, about half who are full time. It is those employees, Hogan said, that make his company stand out.
“Many of my employees have been with me for over 25 years,” Hogan said. “My brother, Tom, and [employee] Mark Ford, have been with me almost from the start. My son Shane works here. My mom, Carole, started after my dad passed away in 2001. And her best friend, Angie Kowalcky, just retired.”
“We pride ourselves on customer service here,” he said. “We go out of our way to accommodate just about any need. And we make sure that your ride never has more than three stops.”
Customers can either call an 800 number 24 hours a day or book reservations online. Knight’s first shared van arrival at local airports is 4:30 a.m. with the final departure from airports at 2 a.m. Private service is available around the clock. Knight’s travels to all New England and New York airports. In addition, they are also members of Go Airport Shuttle, a service that will help you make arrangements to get to and from more than 100 airports around the world.
Knights also offers corporate shuttle services to or from any location throughout New England.
For those who would like to take a trip to one of the region’s casinos, sporting events, concerts and or a night out on the town without the hassle of driving and parking, Knight’s offers a variety of options.
Hogan noted that all of their drivers must pass stringent background checks, physicals, drug tests and CORI tests. Drivers are certified by both the Department of Public Utilities and Department of Transportation.
The company boasts a diversified fleet of over 50 vehicles, including Lincoln Town Cars, passenger vans, and mini-buses (accommodating 23 to 29 passengers) which log thousands of miles per week. In 2013 the company made the switch to using propane with ROUSH CleanTech, a division of Michigan- based ROUSH Enterprises.
“The shift to propane,” Hogan said, “is environmentally responsible in so many ways. Not only does it burn cleaner and more efficiently but, because it is produced domestically, it helps improve our energy independence.”
“We used over 160,000 gallons over the last year, which really reduced our carbon footprint,” he added.
Knight’s is also very committed to giving back to the community.
In September 2014 the company partnered with the American Cancer Society on a campaign to promote prostate cancer awareness and raise funds toward researching the disease.
Throughout the month, Knight’s van drivers swapped their trademark red polo shirts for blue (the color most commonly associated with prostate cancer awareness), while town car and limo drivers donned blue ties. Customers were given brochures with information on prostate cancer and were able to make a donation to the American Cancer Society via a link on the company’s website.
“Our employees also participate in walks and other events,” Hogan added. “We also donate to many local charity fundraisers, by giving free rides as auction prizes.”
The company also provides free rides for patients of Shriners Hospitals for Children in Boston.
For more information on Knight’s services, call 508-839-6252 or 800-822-5456 or visit www.knightslimo.com.