Competitor’s actions puzzle Comox Valley company

Ambassador Shuttle Service will celebrate its sixth anniversary next week amid some confusion and uncertainty.

Kevin East (right) poses with two of Ambassador Shuttle's vans.

Kevin East (right) poses with two of Ambassador Shuttle's vans.

Ambassador Shuttle Service will celebrate its sixth anniversary next week, but amid the celebration, there is some confusion and uncertainty.

The company’s name was recently incorporated by another local business owner.

Dave Smith, who owns Comox Taxi, incorporated the name Ambassador Shuttle Service in early October.

The late Ray Crossley started Ambassador Shuttle Service in 2005, and Kevin East bought the company about a year ago.

When he bought Ambassador, East registered the company as sole proprietor.

“Our plan was to incorporate it after a year after we established ourselves,” said East, explaining it is costly to incorporate a company.

When you register as a business under sole proprietor, it doesn’t protect the business name, explained East, noting that when someone incorporates, they register the name legally.

East found out that Smith had incorporated Ambassador when Smith announced he was running for a seat on Courtenay council, and he listed Ambassador Shuttle Service as one of his assets in his nomination papers.

“I don’t know where I’ll go from here,” said East. “Rebrand or try to get the name back, that will be up to the legal people to decide.”

East believes his two choices are to get the name reversed or rebrand, but whatever happens, he plans to do it in a positive way.

East says he’s often asked why he didn’t incorporate earlier, and it’s because they decided to wait until they were most established because it’s a costly process.

“A lot of people don’t, and you don’t think of someone doing that in a small town,” he said. “We fully respect our competition … I still refer to Comox Taxi. I respect the company. We partner with Sky High Shuttle, IslandLinkBus … It’s a team effort, and there’s room for everybody here. We should work together, not against each other.”

Smith incorporated Ambassador Shuttle Service Oct. 6 and says he did it to make a point that anybody with business experience incorporates their business.

Smith says Comox Taxi used to work closely with Crossley.

“We answered his phone,” he said. “One transportation business answered one business’s phone because we worked so well together.”

Smith says he does his business and does it the best he can with his 50 employees’ best interests at heart.

Comox Taxi works with other transportation companies and has contracts with BC Transit and has worked with Destiny River Adventures during MusicFest.

“The transportation industry is very territorial in nature, and anybody who works in the same territory works together,” said Smith.

Ambassador Shuttle Service and Comox Taxi came up against each other in September when Ambassador was applying to expand its service.

Ambassador offers two service packages — a charter service that originates in the Comox Valley and can take people to Nanaimo, Port Alberni and Campbell River, as well as a service that takes people to and from the Comox Valley Airport.

East asked for an extension for the airport service and, in late September, his company was approved to take clients from the airport to Nanaimo, Tofino and Campbell River.

“That’s what a lot of people were asking for,” he said.

East has return trip authority, which means Ambassador can take someone from the Comox Valley Airport to their destination and bring that same person back.

During the application process, people could make submissions to the Provincial Transportation Board about why the expansion should or shouldn’t be granted, and East says Comox Taxi had two submissions against the expansion, and the BC Taxi Association submitted one.

After 15 days, East had to respond to the submissions.

“I proved the public need, and they approved us,” he said.

Comox Taxi is now appealing the decision.

“I’d just like to get the name back,” said East.

East worked with Crossley in the days before he died in October 2010, and when he bought the company, his family spoke to Crossley’s family and emphasized they wanted to carry on the Ambassador name.

“We told them how we loved the business and loved what Ray did in the community,” he said. “They asked if we were going to change the name, and we said we wanted to keep it. We wanted to carry on the legacy of Ray’s business. That’s the big thing; we wanted to carry the legacy on. We wanted to incorporate in January when we had enough money saved up.”

Ambassador Shuttle Service will celebrate its sixth anniversary Nov. 30 with cake at the Comox Valley Airport from 9 to 11 a.m. and will be at Retroactive Clothing from 2 to 6 p.m. to jointly celebrate its anniversary and the store’s new ownership.