Kevin Spangler, founder of Boober Tours in downtown Ann Arbor, told me after meeting him that he plans to buy the Detroit Lions and take them to the Super Bowl.
And why couldn’t he? Spangler has already founded a thriving business— Boober, short for Bike Uber— after multiple arrests and three months in a homeless shelter. He has saved over $60,000 after starting with nothing; at the same time, he has lifted other people out of homelessness and addiction by employing them.
He plans on using the same tactic with the Lions as he uses with his employees: mentor them at an individual and personal level. According to Spangler, if each player on the Lions could make themselves 10% better, they’d have a winning team.
“It all starts with affirmations”, he said to me as he queued “Levitating.” For people roaming the streets in Ann Arbor at night, hearing Dua Lipa’s hit on repeat from a block away is a telltale sign that a pedicab is rounding the corner.
Spangler’s tricked-out, electric, money-making vehicles attract college students that need a ride. Boober’s busiest time? Weekend nights when college students are leaving parties and bars in need of a lift.
Yet Boober Tours wasn’t always electric, or even money-making. For two years, Spangler used solely manpower, pedaling the few pedicabs he owned himself. While Spangler jokingly laments in the fact that he’s gained 20 pounds after going electric, he said, it was a crucial step in expanding the business. Right now, Spangler employs around fifteen people and owns over 20 pedicabs.
When he started out, Spangler only took donations, which didn’t always guarantee that he and the other drivers were paid for their services. Now, it’s mandated that each driver is paid, and it’s up to them to pick the rates they charge their customers. Across the board though, most Boober Drivers choose to stick with a flat $5 charge no matter the place or distance of the drive.
Boober is not only an inexpensive way to get home safe, but it has, according to Spangler, visibly mitigated the trash and destruction caused by intoxicated college students walking home. Before Boober, Spangler used to see trash cans on campus knocked over by people hitting or slamming into them walking home. Spangler feels like he is doing the community a service by transporting people home in a contained space. Spangler’s past record, including five DUI’s, plays a part in his efforts to make sure that intoxicated young people have options to get home safely.
What is Kevin Spangler’s end goal? To make Boober the biggest advertising business in the country. Right now, Boober makes most of its profit from the advertising on the side of its pedicabs. Treehouse 603 is one of the company’s main advertising partners, with its logo a common sight on Spangler’s pedicabs.
And Spangler has large goals: He hopes to see Boober in every city in the United States someday.
Assistant Photo Editor Tess Crowley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.