COLUMBIA — Business partners Norm Ruebling and Brent Moore can't tell you what will happen in the next 10 years. But they can explain how they've run their operation for the past 10.
Trips made daily: 17 (12 to St. Louis, 5 to Kansas City)
Miles traveled in the past 10 years: 13 million
Staff members in 1999: 5
Staff members in 2009: 78
Passengers on the first trip in 1999: 1
Passengers in 2000: about 12,000 (includes repeat customers)
Passengers in 2008: about 72,000 (includes repeat customers)
In the late 1990s, the two worked for Tiger Air Express, the city's only airport shuttle service at the time. In August 1999, Moore, known as "Doc," and Ruebling decided to launch MO-X.
Their first trip was Oct. 17, 1999, shuttling one passenger to Kansas City. The driver, Pat Talbert, still works with MO-X as the manager of human resources.
"In the beginning, I would take one person out and have to wait eight or nine hours at the airport to pick people up and bring them back," he said.
The first few years were tough, Ruebling said, and they worked long hours spreading the word about the shuttle service.
"We went door-to-door and took brochures to everybody and every business," Ruebling said. "Now, if you say MO-X, people know what it is and what we do."
The two men kept sleeping bags in their office for the first few years because they spent so much time there. They hired three drivers but handled everything else.
Today, the business has a staff of 78 — and 70 are drivers.
"This doesn't run without our employees," he said. "We've got the best you could ever have."
They say their solid partnership has also contributed to the health of the business.
"Everyone says partnerships don't work," Ruebling said. "We've got one that does."
Moore agreed. They have the same mission for the business — "to do it the right way and to do it the same every time."
He said the biggest issues involve customers who miss shuttles because of flight changes, cancellations and delays.
"When airlines make you late and we leave without you, it's just part of our gig. We leave on time," Moore said. "It's our job."
The owners' top concerns are safety, on-time delivery and providing a reliable service to their customers. They haven't increased their prices in two years, which Ruebling said has been rough.
They also have never installed an answering machine.
"We're about the only people in transportation who actually answer our phones so you can talk to a real person," Moore said.
Today, fares range from $43 to $51 for a one-way trip and $81 to $106 round-trip depending whether the customer chooses pick-up at the door or leaves from the MO-X office at 303 Business Loop 70 E.
Kimberley Ching, a senior at MU, is an international student form Hong Kong. Until she purchased her own car, she relied on MO-X to get her to the airport.
"I would use it to go home to Hong Kong or take trips to visit friends at holiday seasons or for breaks," Ching said. When she didn't have a car, she said, it was the best option for her.
Don Laird, president of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, said he uses the service five or six times a year.
"It's very convenient for me," said Laird. "Their drivers are always on time."
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of MO-X, the owners hosted a party at Shiloh Bar & Grill with 300 people attending. Norm Ruebling's band performed.
The plan for the next 10 years?
"Just trying to keep the level of service to the high standard we have it now," Moore said. "Trying to do what we've been doing for the last 10 years."