Park City’s ProTrans tries to hitch a ride to the top
Beau Ogburn sensed an opportunity when he paid nearly $500 to have his parents driven to Park City from the Salt Lake International Airport and back.
Ogburn, armed with a background in economics and experience working for a transportation company in Los Angeles, put pen to paper. There had to be a way to make money driving people to and from the airport at a cheaper price point.
The math added up. So he started ProTrans Transportation. For four months, he tested the concept, just him and his own car, driving up and down Parley’s Canyon several times a day.
"It was a lot of work, to be honest with you," he said. "It was basically a one-man show, and every once in a while Shaun (Conway, who later became the company’s director of operations) would jump in the rig and drive when I was just gassed out. There were days when I was putting in 22 hours, driving my own Infinity up and down the canyon. I think the most trips I made in one day was 11, to and from the airport. That initial period, testing it with my own car, basically inspired the creation of the full-blown business."
That was in 2010. Now, nearly six years later, ProTrans has blossomed. Ogburn’s fleet has grown to 24 vehicles, consisting mostly of 2016 Chevrolet Suburbans. He said he has succeeded in a town with its fair share of transportation companies because customers value the upscale level of service at a competitive rate he provides.
"They like the idea that they’re riding in a 2016 Suburban for a good price," he said.
Ogburn has enjoyed nurturing ProTrans from a fledgling startup into what it is today. He said the ever-changing transportation business keeps him on his toes. Each day is a different adventure, a new obstacle to overcome. Six years later, growing his company remains a labor of love.
"One of the great joys of owning your own business is being able to watch it and nurse it and make sure that it grows in the way that you want," he said. "There are a lot of components out of your control, but you can sort of guide the direction of the growth if you’re on top of it. There’s not a moment that goes by that I don’t think about growing this company. And for me, it’s a great joy to see it take off and establish its name within the community."
But along with the company’s success comes responsibility. As someone who’s lived in Park City for about two decades, Ogburn feels an obligation to be an ambassador for the town. He aims to ensure people who use his service have a great time in Park City, spread the word to their friends, and come back in the future.
"We’re the first point of contact into the state or into Park City," Ogburn said. "We love Park City, so we don’t want people to feel as if, ‘Wow, Park City is too expensive,’ or like they can’t afford to come back here. I want tourists to always be able to say they love coming here because the transportation is inexpensive. With all the pieces of the tourism puzzle, I think we’re doing our part to make it an enjoyable vacation for people."
Conway added that the company also tries to get the word out that Park City has become a first-rate summer destination, as well.
"A lot of our clients obviously come out during the winter season for skiing, and I tell them how great Park City is in the summer, and they come back and visit," he said. "There’s a lot to offer tourists in the summer, as well, and people are starting to find that out."
Ogburn and Conway hope the next six years prove as successful as the first six. ProTrans this winter expanded its airport service to resorts in the Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, and is setting its sights on opening a shuttle service to Park City next winter.
Conway said the future of the company is bright.
"We want to be a staple of the community for years to come," he said. "We work really hard to keep up our reputation with our local clientele in Park City, and I think it’s just going to get better in the coming years."
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Another ski season is in the books, and much to the relief of the restaurant industry, the outlook, like the weather, is looking sunny.