When next you catch the McClune’s shuttle to Walvis, know where it all started
McClune’s Shuttle Services operating out of Swakopmund runs a fleet of 14- and 16-seater buses branded under the McClune livery. These dependable workhorses serve a daily clientele between Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Windhoek. The backbone of the long-distance travel operations consists of a prized group of Toyota Quantum mini-buses.
McClune’s is the name that jumps to mind immediately when a commuter needs transport between the capital and the coast. The well-known well-branded buses are a regular site at the taxi rank in Windhoek’s Mandume Ndemufayo Road. From there a daily shuttle runs to the coast returning the next day, while local shuttles run at the coast between Swakopmund and Walvis Bay.
The condition of the fleet is what strikes the commuter first. Every single vehicle is in immaculate conditions with hardly a spot of dust despite the relatively long trips between Windhoek and Walvis. Even the buses that run the coastal route, notorious for dusty and damp conditions, are spotless.
The driving force is Christophore McClune, an entrepreneur in his own right for the past twenty two years. After leaving school in 1995, it was difficult for the young unskilled, untrained McClune to get a steady job so he started driving a taxi in Windhoek. Over weekends, the same vehicle would double as a commuter taking individuals down to the coast and back.
With his savings he had accummulated over twelve years, McClune officially registered McClune’s Taxi Services in 2007, realising that long-distance commuting offers more lucrative opportunities than peri-urban taxis. But he failed to secure bank financing for the vehicle he had in mind, a 14 or 16 seater mid-sized bus. His ideal vehicle had to be big enough to accommodate a sufficient number of passengers and small enough to be flexible in terms of loading and schedules. The ideal combination he found in the Toyota Quantum.
After eventually obtaining a loan from Bank Windhoek in 2009 from their Emerging Small and Medium Enterprises finance branch, he bought his first bus. Over the next eight years, this single investment grew into a fleet of 12 buses. As his number of rolling assets increased so did his staff and today McClune’s Shuttle Services employ 16 people full time.
The company has also established a sound reputation amongst commuter for their clean, safe and reliable vehicles and the affordable rates.
Although he is the only member of the Close Corporation, McClune said his business involves his family. His wife, three brothers and his mother all contribute to the daily operations of McClune’s Shuttle Services.
McClune’s was one of the first shuttles focussing only on local travellers. Initially commuters did not understand his business model. “We had difficulty explaining to the customers that this is a service for the locals as well,” said McClune. After he realised other shuttle services concentrated on tourists, he realised the sustained opportunities are with locals in need of a ride. So he turned to the domestic market.
Like most businessmen in the current economic climate, McClune said times are challenging but his is a growing business.
His advice to young people: “Have passion for what you do, because it will keep you going forward in the most difficult times. Be honest with your employees, yourself and your family, as they are the ones who are going to support you in your quest to make a success of your business.”