So you buy a new Checker Cab, what is one of the most important priorities? The answer: keeping that shiny new Checker Cab on the road, oh and better make it profitable. For about 80 years. Checker Motors provided service channels to insure that the cab operators or retail buyers of Checkers could keep the cab operations running on budget. The main service channel created by Checker Cab Manufacturing Corp. to serve taxicab operators as well as retail Marthon owners was the Cab Services division.
Checker set up many Cab service centers across the US: Kalamazoo, Detroit, Chicago, Brookline, Minneapolis, New York and Los Angeles to name a few. Additionally, in the late fifties as retail sales started to gain momentum, Checker would also set up service dealer franchisees within a network of service/gas stations for smaller markets not serving large Checker fleet customers.
The Cab Services centers served three primary product offerings. First and foremost, the centers allowed cab operators to have single point of contact for all Checker Taxicab servicing needs. Additionally, the service centers provided Checker owners a full inventory for parts sales, everything from body panels to mechanicals. Most importantly Cab Services provided regular maintenance clinics, that allowed cab operators who maintained their own service bays in operator garages, for access to the most up to date information and training to insure that the Checker Taxicabs were running and generating revenue.
To get a sense of the value created by Cab Services, please read the feedback Checker received on a regular basis from their actual customers. These comments are from 1953 till 1961.
“Out of our complete fleet we have repaired only one transmission (other then bearings). The new part was furnished, at no cost to us, by Cab Services & Parts Corp.” Arnold E. Davis Manager
We cannot speak too highly of the service of your parts and supply department which has always been cooperative and never failed to have replacement parts available evern during periods of shortage. Nathan Levine, Bell Transportation System, Inc.
“With reference to maintenance, our stock of replacement parts is at an absolute minimum on account of the wonderful service we obtain from Checker’s local maintenance division. This factor alone has saved us a large investment in our maintenance department.” R. Rauma, Melrose Cab Company
“Checker is tops! I’ve been getting good service on my A-8 Checker Cab but when things have to be done—brakes, tune-up, etc.—I take it to 68th Street where every consideration is shown me.” Carl Zimmer, Independent Operator
“I was please to have been invited to your Maintenance Clinic at the New England Service Center in Brookline Village on January 30, 1958. Your personnel, I found, was extremely instructive and showed the upmost courtesy to myself and others. I was quite amazed at the frankness of some questions and answers given by your staff which to me connote good business. I left the meeting with more knowledge regarding the Checker Cab and certainly would not miss another meeting hereafter if held.” William Gerard, Yellow Cab of Worcester
“Thanks for giving me an opportunity to express my appreciation of the values I received at your maintenance clinic June 5th and 6th. This sort of thing is very educational even to the mechanic who practically lives under the hood of a taxicab. It gives him an opportunity to swap maintenance know how with others who are honestly promoting efficiency in the operation of the Checker Taxicab.” Howard Welch, Howard Welch Taxi Service
Post 1982, Cab Services centers remained in operation services thru a good part of the 1980’s servicing the Checker fleets as they slowly faded away from passenger service. In 1983 one single Checker was assembled in 1983 off the assembly line at the Cab Services facility in Kalamazoo using surplus Checker new old stock and an engineering dept. body.
It also appears that Cab Services would service Chevrolet taxi fleets while still services Checkers. Based Cab Services documentation provided by Ben Merkel, its clear that both Checker and Chevrolet parts were sold by Cab Services as late as1987. Cab Services claimed to be the largest taxicab parts distributer in the US. Most likely this allowed Cab Services to stay profitable long after Checker production ended.
It appears that the Cab Services operation located at the plant in Kalamazoo remained open well into the twenty-first century. That said, it appears that Kalamazoo Cab Services served as a specialization shop to support Checker corporate and a network of distinguished Checker owners.
In the Fall of 1997 Checker remanufactured two Checker to be part of the Nike Swoosh campaign in order to help inner city youth to join Basketball leagues. These cabs were remanufactured within the Cab Services building in Kalamazoo. This writer took a tour of the facility in the summer of 2000, it was shocking to see new Checkers in the Cab Services showroom and Checkers being services or remanufactured in the service area. Within the facilities the original Checker Aerobus 15 was in the process of being remanufactured, for later CMC corporate use.
Over years, it’s has always been frustrating to read so-called automotive historians write that Checker went out of business in 1982. Well, that’s clearly wrong, the manufacturing company closed in 2009 and it’s pretty clear the Checker activities supporting Checker automobiles continued for almost twenty years after manufacturing ceased.