Christopher Goebel got his start in the family business, Hopkins Airport Limousine and Shuttle Service, by washing fleet vehicles. That was 20 years ago. Since then he has worked his way to up to vice president at the Cleveland-based company.
The company was founded by Goebel's father, Robert, in 1962. The elder Goebel was a police officer when he started driving customers to the airport in a 1961 Chrysler station wagon.
"After work he would take people that would need a ride from the airport to earn extra money," says Goebel, who became vice president in 1986. In 1988, after his father died, his mother, Mary Alice, became president of the company.
Keeping with the its motto of good old-fashioned work based on customer satisfaction, the Goebel family business grew to become a full-service transportation provider for Northeastern Ohio.
From a company that originally began with a couple of station wagons, Hopkins now has more than 100 employees and more than 80 vehicles, including motorcoaches, minibuses, vans, stretch limousines and sedans.
Its 47- and 55-passenger MCI motorcoaches are operated by Lakefront Lines, also owned by the Goebel family. It is this diversity of vehicles, Goebel says, that allows him to satisfy the customers' needs.
There are various types of services available, including scheduled or shuttle hotel service to more than 20 different hotels located in the Cleveland and Akron area. "We are the only operator in Cleveland that does the scheduled hotel service," Goebel says. "We have door-to-door service as well, which is probably our most popular."
The company also maintains a regular schedule of shuttle services to accommodate arrivals and departures from Akron/Canton Regional and Cleveland Hopkins Airports as well as all of Northeast Ohio's private airports. About 100,000 people use the airport shuttle service throughout the year. In fact, the company's name is derived from Hopkins Airport, a primary point of business.
Hopkins also provides charter service, primarily in Northeastern Ohio. "We're licensed to go anywhere within Ohio," says Goebel, adding that they book weddings, proms, bachelor/ette parties and corporate events. "We will use our 21- to 25-passenger minibus or a motorcoach if the need is there."
Hopkins also coordinates transportation packages for various conventions that come to town. Goebel says he has worked with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the NEC World Series of Golf.
Goebel finds that working to satisfy the transportation needs of large events like conventions a rewarding challenge. He says he enjoys working with people and the diversity of transportation requirements needed.
"It seems like no group or individual's needs are similar," he says. "You are constantly coming up with new ideas on how to transport people safely."
Hopkins markets its services through hotels, where shuttle schedules and information are displayed. In addition, it works with travel agencies and markets through its Website (www.hopkinslimousine.com), which is currently being updated. The new Website will include additional service information and graphics and be easier to navigate and use.
Because Hopkins is a family-operated and -owned company, it "can give that extra service," says Goebel. He recalls many times when a driver has returned to a customer's home to pick up forgotten airline tickets or to return a lost item.
It is this kind of extra service as well as the availability of a diverse fleet of vehicles that have made Hopkins a success story.