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Duo creates new way to get around town

Oxford native Ferriday McClatchy, 34, is a wedding planner.

Oxford resident Danny Klimetz, 35, is a wedding photographer.

Together, they are the owners of Flying Tuk, a new Oxford transportation business they decided to bring to town after conducting a photography workshop together in Cuba.

McClatchy, who earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies and German from the University of Mississippi, moved to New York City and Washington, D.C., after college, but eventually returned to Oxford, earning a master’s degree in Southern studies. Today, she works as a wedding planner in town.

Klimetz grew up all over the U.S. because his father was in the Navy. He studied geological engineering at UM and spent 10 years in the field, but today, he is a full-time wedding photographer.

“A couple of years ago, I had a wedding in England that had a tuk-tuk as a get-away vehicle,” Klimetz said. “I always thought this would be awesome in Oxford, but I kind of put it on the back burner and didn’t think of it.”

In January, Klimetz traveled to Cuba to conduct a photography workshop, and McClatchy joined him to help.

“They had these things there called Coco Cars,” he said. “Ferriday fell in love with them, and I said, ‘Let’s check out tuk-tuks. I think those would be awesome.’”

Klimetz said the original plan was to buy a couple of tuk-tuks for weddings. They found a place that distributes tuk-tuks that are road legal, and they arrived in two weeks.

“It morphed into a taxi transportation business,” said McClatchy.

Klimetz said the business is still evolving.

“Originally it was just a get-away vehicle for weddings,” he said. “And then we thought this might be great for taking kids home from the bars and taking people to dinner at night. It would be great for game day transportation.”

Their Flying Tuks are three-wheeled motorized rickshaws.

“Ours happen to be all electric,” said McClatchy. “Most of them you see in Southeast Asia are going to be diesel.”

Klimetz said you’ll see many in India and Thailand with various names. His went through a number of safety protocols before they were approved as road safe.

“They carry six people, plus the driver,” he said.

The vehicles feature seat belts, windshield wipers, heated seats for winter, and doors for when it rains and when it’s cold.

“It’s about the experience,” said McClatchy.

Soft launch underway

Klimetz said they are doing a soft launch now. The two vehicles arrived June 1.

“The idea was to kind of feel out the vehicles this summer and see how it was going,” he said. “We’ve already ordered three more, so we have three more coming early September or mid-September. We’ll have at least five to start with when school kicks in full gear. We plan to have our full launch, fully operational, by August when school starts.”

The business currently operates Thursday through Saturday nights from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

“Right now, the rides are free,” Klimetz said. “We just ask that they tip the drivers. The drivers work on tips. We’ve tested that model out, and it seems to be doing really well. The passengers love it and the drivers love it.”

McClatchy said they require a minimum number of passengers for some neighborhoods because the vehicles are electric and can only travel a certain number of miles.

Klimetz said they also plan to make money through advertising.

“There’s the option of wrapping a vehicle completely in a brand,” he said.

They plan to have a billboard in the back of the vehicles. The Flying Tuks will also feature posters that can be changed, and they will have TVs inside on which they’ll run static images or 60-second commercials.

“There’s also the option of handing out merchandise or swag,” Klimetz said. “Companies have koozies or sunglasses. Whatever it is that they want us to hand out, we can hand it out to our riders on their behalf.”

Off to a flying start

So far, the Flying Tuks have been well received in Oxford.

“We haven’t started school yet, and it’s been insane,” he said. “We’ve been blown away.”

McClatchy agreed.

“It’s been hard to even pick up passengers off the street because we are dealing with reservations, which is a great problem as a business to have, but we certainly want to accommodate more of the town,” she said.

The three additional Flying Tuks will help.

Klimetz said the vehicles are also available for private hire for engagement parties, bachelor parties, birthdays, weddings, etc.

“We bring the vehicle and a driver, and we take them where they need to go,” he said.

Any advertisers interested in Flying Tuks can contact them.

“You don’t have to worry about parking,” he said. “You don’t have to worry about drinking and driving. We take care of all that for you. We just pick you up at your door and drop you off at your restaurant … It’s not about how quickly we get there, but just the ride.”

You can find the business on Twitter and Instagram @flyingtuk, and if you ride in one and want to share your experience on social media, they suggest using the hashtags #TukYeah or #GotTukked.

WANT A RIDE?

To reserve a Flying Tuk to pick you up, text your name, address and the time you want it to arrive to 662-205-6312. Reservations are suggested. For more information, visit FlyingTuk.com.

About LaReeca Rucker

LaReeca Rucker is a writer, reporter and adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism and New Media.

A veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she spent a decade at the Gannett-owned Clarion-Ledger - Mississippi's largest daily newspaper - covering stories about crime, city government, civil rights, social justice, religion, art, culture and entertainment for the paper's print and web editions. She was also a USA Today contributor.

This year, she received a first place award from the Mississippi Press Association for “Best In-Depth Investigative Reporting.” The story written in 2014 for The Oxford Eagle chronicles the life of a young mother with two sons who have epilepsy, and details how she is patiently hoping legalized cannabis oil experimentation will lead to a cure for their disorder.

Her website is www.lareecarucker.com.

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