Dow’s Taxi shuttles customers around town

14 years ago

By Elna Seabrooks
Staff Writer

HOULTON — Late Friday afternoon a resident called the Pioneer Times for the phone number of  Dow’s Taxi. That’s not really so unusual since residents and out-of-towners, upon occasion, do call the paper when they want information, addresses or phone numbers they cannot find on their own.
ImageHoulton Pioneer Times Photo/Elna Seabrooks
NEW TAXI SERVICE — Leigh Dow can be seen around town taking residents and visitors to work, shopping and appointments.

    What was unusual, was the fact that, Leigh Dow, the owner and operator, had been in for an interview that very morning for this particular business story about his new company — Dow’s  Taxi.
    The caller, Debbie Smart, said she had seen ads in the paper for the new company but, she had lost the number. So, Smart was grateful for the information. Then, she explained that she wanted the number for her son who works locally and needs a cab when he finishes in the wee hours of the morning after the other cab service is closed.
    Dow has been operating his taxi service since May 12 and apparently is doing well. Customers hail from  as far away as Florida and New Hampshire when visiting the area and as nearby as Weston, Presque Isle, Smyrna and Sherman. “And, there are the local people going to Walmart, Shop ‘n Save and the emergency room,” said Dow. But, he asserted, “if you have an emergency, call 9-1-1 not Dow’s Taxi.” He said he had just such a call after a minor fender bender and told the caller to contact the police department.”
    When asked about his customers, Dow said they are all kinds of people. “There were two gentlemen in from Georgia driving tractor trailers. They were in for the Fourth of July and just wanted to ride around and see the area. They called me later on in the evening and I went to get them at a local motel. And, I took them to the fairgrounds, dropped them off and they stayed for the fireworks. They called me afterward and I took them back to the motel.” Dow said he also drove the men around to see older buildings and the downtown area. “They liked it and said it was a nice, quaint town.”
    In such a short time Dow has built a reputation and clientele by passing out his cards to businesses in the Houlton area and beyond, advertising in the Pioneer Times and getting good word-of-mouth all the while. The cards have an attention-getting graphic of a bright yellow taxi cab in motion with the telephone number.
    The actual taxi that Dow drives is a brownish burgundy 2001 Mercury Marquis with air conditioning  that his customers must have appreciated in the hot, humid occasionally record-breaking temperatures dogging northern Maine the last few weeks.
ImageHoulton Pioneer Times Photo/Elna Seabrooks
ON CALL — Leigh Dow, owner and operator of Dow’s Taxi said he is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week with his new cab service in Houlton.

    The basic, in-town flat rate is $5 for one person. Variables apply based on stops, number of people, distance and time. He said he is open 24 hours, seven days a week because “you do what you have to do to get it off the ground.” Dow also said fares will be reasonable and he wants to stay local right now because long-distance trips take away from local business and customers who have to get to and from work at specific times.
    Dow, who lives in Houlton, was born in Hodgdon. Residents may remember that he had a restaurant in the downtown area before he moved to Florida for a while. He came back in 1988. In the early ‘90s he owned and operated The Bus in Monument Park that is still popular for hot dogs, burgers and French fries. “I sold it to my nephew Reggie who is almost as nice as his uncle,” said Dow with a slight smile.
    Now that he is busy with his taxi service, Dow said he is keeping his fingers crossed that gas prices stay stable. “When you’re in a jam, when your  4-wheeler or in-town snowmobile breaks down or want to see the area or you lock your keys in your camper, as one customer did, and needed to get a spare, call Dow’s Taxi,” he said.
    Although business is sporadic at times, Dow said when snow and bad weather arrive, things will probably get even busier. He may have to hire additional personnel and get another car.
    If things progress well for the business, Dow’s wife Carol will be a part-time worker: “She doesn’t know that yet. But she will read it in the Pioneer. That’s a good way to find out. Just joking.”