For Mark Calvert, a Juneau resident for the past seven years, business couldn’t be better.
Last week, Calvert launched what he calls Juneau’s first successful airport shuttle business, Juneau Airport Shuttle.
“You know your business is going to be OK when your dentist rides your shuttle in the first week and you didn’t even ask him to do it,” Calvert said with a grin.
This business has been in the works for some time, but a lot of planning had to be done before its launch, Calvert said.
“On the surface it looks like, ‘Well, you can just grab a van and drive back and forth and drop people off,’ but there’s a lot more to it,” Calvert said.
Along with the job of shuttling travelers back and forth, the company has to coordinate with incoming and outgoing flights, booking customers and organizing shuttle schedules to stay punctual and consistent, among others.
“We did a lot of work before the season even started to get our system and organization in order,” Calvert said. “Things that the customers don’t see but we need to worry about. But from the onset, it’s been great.”
The business includes 20 other local employees.
Originally from Wichita, Kansas, Calvert has not always called Juneau home.
“When I was 12 or 13, my parents sent me up here to spend the summer with extended family, and I just fell in love with it,” Calvert said. “Just walking around downtown and the staircases between houses.”
Calvert spent the next several summers of his teen years visiting Juneau.
In 2010, after ending a 15-year career as a professional opera singer, Calvert and his wife moved to Juneau. Their first child was recently born here.
“My wife and I wanted a quieter life,” Calvert said. “I’d been traveling a lot, so I quit in 2010.”
Calvert has been working mostly in nonprofit work since then, with some work in tourism, which piqued his appetite for this business, he said.
With a team of drivers on hand, Calvert spends most of his time managing, rather than driving.
“We really lucked out,” Calvert said. “We’ve got a great team.”
This includes a variety of characters, some working full time but a lot of part time, Calvert noted.
“I’ve got everybody from someone with a master’s in cultural anthropology to a retired airline pilot,” Calvert said.
Calvert has tried to emphasize local feel by hiring Juneauites and running his shuttle service to many of the local museums as well as downtown hotels.
“We’re working with the APK state library, the Juneau-Douglas City museum as well as the (Juneau Arts and Humanities Council),” Calvert said. “We’re just trying to guide people to those local attractions that they might miss otherwise.”
For now, this service looks to be a summer installation, built to handle the onslaught of eager tourists flocking to Juneau for a northern vacation. That could change , Calvert said.
“You have to do one thing and do it right first before taking on too much,” Calvert said. “So we’ll do this thing this summer and do it really well and then we’ll look about continuing year-round.”
Currently, a single passenger can ride the shuttle for $17. Groups of two or three will receive a 30 percent discount on that price. Groups of four or more receive a 40 percent discount. Southeast residents, after entering the promotion code “Juneaulocal,” can ride for $12.
• Erin Granger is an intern for the Juneau Empire. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.