Bet you didn’t know that Los Angeles is not only the birthplace of those notorious shiny red vans, but also of the entire ride share concept! That’s right! Back in 1986 when our founder, John Kindt, first visualized neighbors sharing rides to the airport on board sparkling red vans, he was a true innovator. Twenty-five years ago, no one had thought of anything so bold as a structured way for complete strangers to share a ride.
So how did a 26 year old law school dropout and starving actor end up birthing an industry? The year was 1983 and a young John Kindt had fled Georgetown Law School. “I was in my 20’s. I pictured myself spending most of my day sitting behind a desk alone. I wanted something exciting.” He arrived back in his hometown of Los Angeles with his Business Administration degree from Pepperdine in his back pocket and a dream to make it as an actor. Living the stereotypical life of thousands who come to L.A. every day with hopes of “making it big,” Kindt waited tables at night while going to auditions during the day. He had a little success with a Sunkist orange soda commercial and a couple of beer spots.
It was his ever practical father who first suggested the idea of helping his son to purchase a limousine. With a limousine, the older Kindt reasoned, his son could at least work for himself instead of working for somebody else. And surely as a limousine driver, the young aspiring actor might be in a better position to meet producers, directors and the like. Prime Time Limousine was born. And Kindt’s father was right … not only did the limousine company pay the bills, but early Prime Time clients included such Hollywood heavy hitters as Marlon Brando and Louis L’Amour!
But rather than leading Kindt into a life as an actor, instead the limousine company sparked a flame in Kindt’s entrepreneurial spirit. “What Los Angeles really needed,” Kindt mused, “was a limousine-quality service that was affordable enough for the masses.” Prime Time Shuttle was born.
Prime Time’s unique business model, which had the drivers of the red vans as owner operators as opposed to employees, was unprecedented for its time. But with the drivers each as owners of their own red vans, the incentives were correctly aligned for drivers to offer exceptional customer service. The “ride share experiment” as they referred to it, was an official success. Within a few short years, there were over 100 shiny new red vans on the freeways of Los Angeles.
Why red? We asked the Prime Time Shuttle founder the same question. “Well, Super Shuttle was blue and we’ve always had a Coke/Pepsi rivalry since the very beginning. They had blue vans, so red vans just seemed like the only choice. But it wasn’t long before I fell in love with the look of those deep crimson red vans. Twenty-five years later, they’ve become our calling card,” acknowledged Kindt.