SHERIDAN — For Kyle and Darren Small, moving to Sheridan was a major change in both their lives.
They came with the dream of breaking into the tourism markets in the Black Hills and Yellowstone, and Sheridan offered a good centralized location for reaching both destinations.
They purchased a 33-foot Hummer H2 limousine in Seattle, with the aim of taking up to 17 passengers on tours with it.
As a side option, the brothers started offering the limo for local events, with the requirement that they’re booked for at least a two-hour time window.
“The more we see the local response to the local limousine service, the more we’re switching our focus to that,” Darren Small said.
The duo’s first local event was earlier this year when they drove high school students to a prom in Buffalo.
“They lost their mind,” Darren Small said.
The teenagers were ecstatic about being in the fully customized limousine.
“One kid in particular, he kept counting down the bass drops,” Kyle Small said. “He was like ‘five, six, seven, eight!’”
Part of the business is growing interest locally, which they’ve done by going to local events and allowing people to explore their limousine.
“One guy collected a bunch of girls, he was like ‘If I just collect a bunch of girls, can we just sit in here for a couple minutes?’’ Kyle Small said. “So he did it, he found a bunch of girls and they just sat in there for a couple minutes. Then they wanted to rent it.”
A little more than a year ago the brothers were living on opposite sides of the world from each other.
Kyle Small was working in the disaster restoration field, dealing with properties that had been through floods, fires or mold.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, I had a really good stable job up in Billings, he was teaching English in China and making good money,” Kyle Small said. “The circumstances seemed right, and we seemed to be hungry for a change.”
So the two talked on the phone, and eventually they decided on Sheridan.
Their father had lived in town for a few years, so the brothers had some people they could reach out to.
So they uprooted their wives and children and moved to Sheridan. Kyle Small had been at his job for seven years, and his brother had been living in China for six years.
“That’s where I met my wife, and we had our son over there,” Darren Small said.
For Kyle Small’s wife it was a good move to a beautiful community, but Darren Small said his wife had a different feeling.
“My wife had a little culture shock,” Darren said, saying the culture shock was more focused on the food options here.
And while their families adjust, their company has to adjust also.
The first year of business wasn’t as simple as they had hoped, and the brothers are employing a different strategy going forward.
“We’re signing up with some global travel agencies to get promoted that way, something we failed to do last season,” Kyle Small said. “We tried to promote ourselves, especially in China, that was really, really difficult and expensive.”
But the brothers don’t seem worried. They’ve seen a lot of local response and it’s just a matter of seeing if it lasts. And while they wait, they’re doing their best to have fun with the people they take for a ride.
“We want to party with everybody,” Darren Small said.
They feel like their service offers people the chance to enjoy themselves, and it gives them a thrill.
“We don’t get to drink, we have to drive,” Kyle Small said. “But we get some of the party by osmosis.”