A1 Express, Inc. - Buffalo, NY
In 2013, Tommy Summage noticed a need for medical transportation in Buffalo and used his ambition and drive to start a business that accomplished exactly that. His business, A1 Express Inc., now provides transportation for Medicaid-covered patients to doctor’s appointments throughout the Western NY area.
Tommy didn’t always know he wanted to start his own business, but he was fascinated with entrepreneurship. As it is to many, the idea of being his own boss was appealing, but it was really the aspect about helping the community that inspired Tommy to take action and open A1 Express Inc.
Those that have the privilege to meet Tommy quickly notice his work ethic. You’ll usually spot him with two cell phones in hand—both ringing every few minutes—to make sure he’s able to reach his clients and employees at any time, and so they can also reach him.
This dedication combined with his unwavering desire to support his community has helped Tommy make his mark in Western New York. Since day one, A1 Express has made a difference by filling an essential need in the region.
“As a business owner, you’re always learning and growing,” explains Tommy. “In the early years, I didn’t understand a lot of things. For example, in growing my business I came to realize how financing my growth could get me further than using all of my cash in hand. This realization helped me get to where I am today.”
Tommy initially reached out to Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF) to refinance existing business debt. “I was able to secure financing from EGF to refinance an existing business loan that reduced my monthly payments by more than $10,000. That was a huge savings – and helped my cash flow tremendously!” With more cash on hand, Tommy was able to gain a clearer picture of A1 Express’s future. “I started to search for dispatch equipment to help reach more customers and grow my business. I was able to secure additional financing to purchase that equipment through EGF.”
While Tommy’s success could be credited to a number of attributes, it comes down to one for him: passion. “Doing something you like to do makes all the difference. Being an entrepreneur might look good from the outside looking in, but it is a lot of work!”
Today, A1 Express Inc. is extremely successful and continues to service the Buffalo area as well as most of Western NY.
About the author: Charles Palmer is an AmeriCorps VISTA in the Buffalo office. He served in the Air Force and graduated from Buffalo State College.