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steve lopez - carbon neutralizer
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Best of the Valley
Steve Lopez - Carbon Neutralizer
November, 2012, Page 126
Photo by Brendan Moore
Growing up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, Steve Lopez watched his entrepreneurial maverick of a grandmother launch clothing stores, community recreation programs, and the region’s first YWCA. Then, after stints as a race car driver and college student, Lopez, 43, found a calling to do grandma proud: to reinvent the dirtiest, most tired industry he could find. If he could turn the taxi business green, he says, “we can do it in most any industry.”
Three-year-old Clean Air Cab is “the only 100 percent carbon-neutral fleet in the area,” Lopez says. He now contracts with 75 drivers, plus 21 in support, maintenance and dispatch. His fleet of 50 Toyota Priuses exhales 66 percent fewer emissions and burns two-thirds less fuel than the cab industry’s baseline, the Ford Crown Victoria. The company knocks emissions down to zero through carbon offsets – they’ve sponsored 12,000 new trees in Brazil’s rainforest since 2009. Extra carbon cuts are coming, Lopez says, though he’s mum for now about what those are.
Last year’s revenues hit $1.7 million – “more than I ever imagined ever to bring in,” says Lopez, who expects to break $2 million this year. His cabbies move up to 500 passengers a day, many of whom are repeat customers. Little touches pay off: Lopez makes sure his cabs are immaculate. Most offer riders water, a newspaper, and – for those late-night Mill Avenue hails – air-sickness bags.
He also wanted to create a humane corporation. He prides himself on retaining 70 percent of his cabbies for 150 percent longer than the industry average. His fleet includes nine cabs painted for Mesa United Way, ASU, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and the Komen Foundation, and each get a dollar from every fare. “I have three very simple commands,” he says. “People, planet, and profit, in that order.”
For more information on Clean Air Cab, call 480-777-9777 or visit
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