Martin Wissenberg is a master of transportation and logistics, and for a good cause.
Over the past four years, he’s been honing his directional skills as the founder and executive director of Riders Club of America, a not-for-profit organization in Cedar Rapids that provides rides to those who no longer can drive.
The idea is simple: Riders Club offers rides to seniors (55 plus) or those who have a medical condition that prevents them from driving.
“Our goal is to fill the gap between those who have access to transportation and those who don’t,” Wissenberg said. “We are the car a person no longer has.”
Riders pay an annual fee, plus a per ride rate in the Cedar Rapids metropolitan area. The service is offered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Wissenberg offered the first ride in December 2009.
“Last month we broke 30,000 rides,” he added.
The organization provides more than 1,000 rides per month, for about 250 families in the Cedar Rapids area.
Those are numbers that keep Wissenberg, his one other staff member and his team of about 90 volunteer drivers on the move. But Riders Club is not an on-demand service.
And because each ride is paid for in advance, riders and drivers feel more comfortable.
“The rider just gets out of the car, and it feels more like a friend dropping them off,” he said.
Wissenberg was inspired to start Riders Club while attending a Rotary meeting in Dubuque and hearing another business owner talk about a similar program.
“The more he talked, the more I thought, ‘I can do that,’” Wissenberg recalled. “I didn’t sleep for the next six weeks just thinking about it, so I quit my job and started Riders Club.”
Having spent more than 12 years doing cost analysis at McLeod and a couple years at a local logistics company, Wissenberg translated his technical skills to create an online program to organize 1,000 different rides per month.
Wissenberg’s goal is to have the organization be self-funded. “Our pricing is low, but we are getting close to that level where the funds we generate can sustain us.”
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