The walls inside Hector Diaz’s office are covered with awards from a number of Little League and softball teams.
He’s never scored any runs himself, but the president of Alltown Car Service is proud of the young athletes’ accomplishments, and uses those plaques as a reminder of how important community service is through his young transport company.
“This is more than business, we belong to the community,” Diaz said. “At times, we provide uniforms and equipment for the Little Leaguers. We also support the community in other ways, whether it be giving to the church or supporting local politicians.”
Diaz has lived in New York for nearly 20 years, moving here from his native Dominican Republic. Most days finds the entrepreneur in his Kingsbridge Avenue office, just a few doors away from his West 231st Street storefront.
Because it runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there is never a routine timetable for Diaz.
“I’m the boss,” he said. “I have no set schedule and my days are not the same, but I do have agendas.”
That agenda can keep him working anywhere between seven and 14 hours each day. And while those hours might keep him away from his family more than he would like, Alltown is the realization of a dream Diaz has had since before he even came to America.
Alltown was just a bright idea when Diaz himself was a cab driver. He first got behind the wheel in 1986, bouncing around a number of car companies like Cabrena and First-Class. Yet, Diaz still found time to earn his bachelor’s degree in business administration before moving to America in 1998.
“When I came to the United States, I came to Riverdale,” he said. “The first thing I said was, ‘Where am I going to put my business?’ So I decided Riverdale, because I know this area.”
The Bronx wasn’t the only thing Diaz grew to know. He also met Randy Lopez — at a softball game, of course — in 2004. Less than a decade later, the two would become partners in Alltown, with Lopez running the car company’s billing department.
“We have a lot of history,” Lopez said. “This is my guy.”
Getting Alltown off the ground wasn’t easy, especially when it came time for Diaz to apply for licenses and gain approval through various government agencies.
But their hard work paid off, and now Alltown boasts more than 235 drivers in the tri-state area, ranging from SUVs, vans and sedans.
With ride-hailing car services like Uber and Lyft dominating yellow cabs, Diaz commissioned his own reservation smartphone app in 2014. Yet, he still empathizes with traditional taxi companies because the value of their high-priced medallions allowing them to pick up passengers curbside in the city have declined significantly over the past few years.
“The price went from somewhere around $1 million, all the way down to $300,000.” Diaz said of the medallion value. “I know that business, the yellow and green cars are in a very tough situation because everyone is using apps, and they (the cab companies) don’t have it. People have to adapt to the new era, the new situation.”
Alltown not only evolved beyond traditional car services, but like what the company does for ballplayers, it’s giving back. Customers who receive Medicaid or Medicare benefits in the state, for example, can schedule Alltown pickups to doctor appointments — at no cost.
“I try my best for the people in the community to see me as the car service of Riverdale,” Diaz said. “This is not the end of my quest for the company. We have more plans on our checklist to accomplish.”