These 6 People Will Bring Mobile Services to Your Door
These days, just about every service comes in a mobile truck version. You may never have to leave your house again!
In today's modern world, convenience is king. Why drive all the way to a pizzeria when you can simply pick up the phone and have a freshly made pie arrive right on your doorstep? These days, it’s getting easier and easier to have goods and services come to you, rather than the other way around. We found people who will sharpen your knives, mix you a high-end cocktail and even cure your inevitable hangover—all from tricked-out vans and trucks. Here’s to the mobile heroes who brave rough traffic and tight parking, so you don’t have to! We spoke with a few of these heroes to find out what drives them.
Whitney taylor, right, and Ronni Davis, left, can beautify any dog, big or small.
PHOTO: Olivier Koning
Some people move to Hawai‘i for the weather, or the waves, or the food. Whitney Taylor moved for the pets. “I was in San Diego, and I had heard that no one was doing mobile grooming in Hawai‘i,” she says. “I was working out of a storefront, but I had a couple of clients who I would go to their homes, and I just noticed how much calmer the dogs would be, compared with having them come into the store.”
She knew there would be a market for her services when she moved to Honolulu, bought a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van and founded Busy Scissors Mobile Pet Spa. But she was surprised by the demand. “I was doing everything by myself at first. Grooming, bookkeeping, everything,” she says. “I was overwhelmed, so I called up my friend Ronni (Davis) and convinced her to move to Hawai‘i to partner with me on this.” Five years later, the duo has two vans and is planning for a third.
Busy Scissors specializes in animals who have been traumatized, or who can’t go to a traditional groomer. The self-contained vans are packed with everything needed to clean and trim two animals at a time, including hot running water, a tub, and a hydraulic table that adjusts to fit both large and small animals. “Last week we worked with a 220-pound mastiff,” Taylor says. “We do everything. Cats, guinea pigs, rabbits. Once we did a chicken. Anything that won’t bite me, I’ll try.”
Taylor says she’s built up a loyal clientele. “A lot of them, we see every other week, or every month. They’re part of our family. We get to know their pets and their kids. It’s great.”
Living on the Edge
PEGGY KAAHANUI KEEPS EVERYONE ON POINT.
Photo: OLIVIER KONING
If you need to stay sharp, Peggy Kaahanui is the one to call. From a truck that she’s personally customized into a mobile sharpening workshop, Kaahanui can hone just about any kind of blade, anywhere on O‘ahu. She has a minimum fee of $30, but it’s not a call charge. “That’s for $30 worth of sharpening,” she says.
Kaahanui bought the business in 2009 from the previous owner, who retired and moved back to the Mainland. There was a little bit of a learning curve—the truck that came with the business promptly died—but she gradually built up her expertise. “The most satisfying part,” she says, “is to take stuff that people were going to throw away and make them useful again. Just yesterday, I did 12 beautician shears for a woman who just kept buying new ones because she didn’t know how to get the others sharpened.”
Kaahanui says one of the charms of her mobile business is how appreciative people can be. Many of her clients have gotten wise and organize little neighborhood sharpening parties for her visits. All the aunties and uncles, friends and neighbors bring her their knives and machetes and anything else that needs sharpening.
One new service Kaahanui offers is a knife rental exchange for commercial kitchens. Once a week, she goes by restaurants like Yard House and California Pizza Kitchen and swaps out their dull knives for a fully sharpened set. While she’s there, she says, “if they have anything else that needs sharpening, like Cuisinart blades, I take it right out to the truck, sharpen it and get it back to them the same day, instead of a week later.”
That’s the advantage of being mobile.
An Ambulance for Animals
Doctor Walter Lam's ambulence isn't for humans, it's for pets.
Photo: Olivier Koning
When you’re a veterinarian who makes house calls, you tend to run into some unexpected situations. Walter Lam, of Mobile Veterinary Services, says he can’t believe how many big potbelly pigs he’s treated in downtown Honolulu. “They’re up to 200 or 300 pounds,” he says. “I’m so surprised when I find them in a one-room apartment, on the 25th floor.”
Lam, a soft-spoken guy who tends to be more comfortable with animals than people, cares for dogs, cats, horses, pigs and goats all over O‘ahu, many of them in situations that make it inconvenient to transport them to a vet’s office. (Does a pig in a high-rise take the elevator or the stairs?) He says treating them in place also minimizes the stress on the animals at a time when they’re already sick and suffering.
Lam used to treat animals at the Honolulu Zoo and the Hawaiian Humane Society, but these days, equipped with his well-outfitted animal ambulance, he drives all over the island, wherever he’s needed. In fact, the Kāhala resident says, “Ninety percent of my business is in ‘Ewa Beach and on the North Shore.”
Thiago Roitman will bang your car …
There are a lot of things that can create dents and dings in local cars—fender benders, runaway shopping carts, carelessly flung doors—but Thiago Roitman was inspired to create his mobile Pro Dent Hawai‘i business by something that O‘ahu drivers almost never have to deal with: hail stones. “I saw a program on TV about people traveling to fix dents after hail storms. It seemed like a really good idea.”
Seven years later, he’s become a pro at finessing out the craters and folds in car metal, often well enough to make the surface as good as new. “It looks simple, but it’s really hard to do it well,” he says. “Eighty percent of the people in my training program with me quit before they were able to do it right.”
A skilled touch pays off, though—Roitman says he’s able to rescue cars from more drastic repairs, using just simple tools. “It saves a lot of money,” he says. “People tell me they’ve gotten quotes from a body shop for $1,000 or more, and I could fix that same dent for a couple hundred.”
For part of the year, Roitman flies to the Mainland to pursue his original inspiration. “During hail storm season, I go to where the hail is, Oklahoma, Colorado, places like that, and fix dents after a storm hits,” he says. But don’t worry, Hawai‘i drivers: Roitman says, “I have a friend who works with me here in Hawai‘i, so our local service never stops.”
Corinne Dudoit’s papers are in order.
PHOTO: OLIViER KONING
808 Mobile Notary
As a high-end, go-anywhere notary public and certified loan signing agent, Corinne Dudoit is all about discretion. She’s used to working with celebrities, banks and high-profile business executives. Once, she even helped close a big transaction for a visiting king—whom she naturally declines to identify. She has also helped a private detective try to convince his homeless client to accept a large inheritance, but she doesn’t want to talk about the details. There’s that discretion again.
You could say Dudoit is continuing a family tradition. In 2009, she founded 808 Mobile Notary, taking over a business her mother had built over many years. And by combining the services of both a notary public and a certified loan-signing agent, she’s been able to steadily grow the clientele she inherited from her mom.
Dudoit’s business has two parts. First, as a notary public, she goes wherever her clients ask to officially notarize legal documents, such as a power of attorney. Second, as a certified loan-signing agent, Dudoit helps clients complete legal transactions, like mortgages and other kinds of contracts. Mobility is key, and Dudoit is available anytime, anywhere. Sometimes, they pay for her to go the neighbor islands or even the Mainland to complete a transaction.
“My emphasis,” she says, “is on making the process as easy and convenient as possible.”
Matt Choy and Derek Stevens think you could use a drink.
PHOTO: OLIViER KONING
A Movable Toast
Have you ever thrown a shindig and realized just how sparse your drink selection is? You could either start assembling your own Don-Draper-esque liquor collection—an expensive proposition—or you could just get a couple of bartenders to handle things for you.
Derek Stevens and Matt Choy started their company, Free Spirits Mobile Bartenders, in 2013, after they noticed that, in normal venues, people could never quite create the event they envisioned. Free Spirits’ motto, on the other hand, is to never say no. If you want a Star-Wars-themed party, Stevens and Choy can do that, complete with costumes and custom drinks. And, because they are mobile, they can bring the party wherever you want.
Just as important, they offer a full range of event services, including setup and break down. “We just did a birthday party for 20 people at a private home,” Stevens says. “On the same day, we did Art After Dark, with just a two-hour turn around.”
This kind of flexibility, of course, only comes with experience. Both Choy and Stevens have opened hotels, managed bars and worked in nightclubs, and they look for that same level of experience in their staff. As Choy points out, “Our greenest, newest guy has been bartending in both hotels and restaurants for three years.”
Free Spirits has grown fast, Choy says. “We started out working with Street Grindz, doing Eat the Street and Night Market. Then we expanded to little corporate parties at Bishop Museum, the Aquarium and other venues. As the word got out about us, people realized there was a service out there that was both affordable and a little bit different.”
That sounds like the makings of a pretty good party.
The Cure for the Morning After
Have you ever had a vicious hangover that wouldn’t quit? Sure, you could take ibuprofen and hide in bed all day, or you could solve the problem in just half an hour with the help of Edward Campbell, Hangover Doctor. Campbell is a real M.D., a registered anesthesiologist who works in hospital ORs as well as the private offices of plastic surgeons and dentists. As a mobile hangover doctor, he can come to your house and give you an intravenous drip to quickly rehydrate and nourish your booze-beaten body. It’s a treatment that’s already popular with partygoers in New York and Las Vegas.
“It’s much better to get your vitamins through an IV,” Campbell says, “because they’re processed by the body more efficiently than when you take them orally.”
“The Hangover Doctor” is a sexy tagline, but alcohol-related pain isn’t the only thing that Campbell treats. His clients range from athletes, including MMA fighters, to movie stars seeking perfect health, to regular people who are just feeling lousy because of the flu, or food poisoning, or frequent travel. Depending on the treatment, a session can take between 25 and 45 minutes. Campbell’s IV therapy is also useful for patients who have an illness or are going through chemotherapy, although this isn’t a significant portion of his business because it takes a lot of coordination with a patient’s primary care doctor and oncologist.
The magic of an IV treatment will cost you between $199 and $349, depending on how much fun you had the night before, but if you’ve ever had the morning from hell, a speedy fix may feel more than worth it.
(860) 375-3379, hawaiihangoverdoctor.com
READ MORE STORIES BY MICHAEL KEANY