The owner of one of Northern Virginia’s most recognizable companies, Red Top Cab of Arlington, will be honored today with a Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor from one of the world’s oldest and largest transportation trade groups.
Cheered by 1,000 industry peers from around the world, Neal C. Nichols will accept the award on Oct. 29 by Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA) at the trade group’s 97th Annual Convention and Trade Show, held this year in Las Vegas. The annual event is the largest gathering of the for-hire transportation fleet industry in the world.
The nephew of a U.S. Congressman from Oklahoma, Nichols’ family moved to Arlington when he was a young boy. His father became involved in the ground transportation business at the new Washington National Airport and later became an owner of Arlington Yellow Cab, where Nichols began learning the business when he was still in high school. In 1964, Nichols started Red Top Cab Company from scratch, which he continues to run along with Yellow Cab of Fairfax and Yellow Cab of Falls Church. After his father’s death, Yellow Cab of Arlington was taken over by his father’s former partners. Nichols said one of his greatest satisfactions in life was purchasing Yellow Cab of Arlington back from his father’s partners when it went into bankruptcy. Nichols still operates that company to this day.
A past president of the TLPA, Nichols was recognized in 1980 as the association’s Taxicab Operator of the Year. In 1994, he became the first and only person in TLPA history to be honored with a second Operator of the Year Award as the Premium Services Operator of the Year.
“Neal has built a fantastic brand, and has shown unwavering commitment to excellence in our industry,” said Alfred LaGasse, CEO of the TLPA. “He’s also a major force behind so many things that make a difference in people’s lives, from helping people with disabilities to curbing drunk driving.”
Nichols was one of the first U.S. operators to add accessible vehicles into his taxicab fleet and was also one of the first taxi company owners to build a fleet of greener, cleaner hybrid cabs. He is also a charter member of the Virginia Taxicab Association, in which he still plays an active policy and financial role.
A community leader outside of his business, Nichols is a long-time supporter of SoberRide, a program that provides free, safe transportation during holidays. He was inducted into the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s “Best Business Hall of Fame” in 2011. Red Top has been recognized with an ABBIE for Arlington’s Best Business of the Year, and Washingtonian magazine readers named Red Top Cab the “Best Taxi Service” in the DC metro area. The company also supports numerous community initiatives, including Capital Hospice, Wounded Warriors and the Senior Olympics.
Nichols has six children and has been blessed with 17 grandchildren. A long-time pilot, he is certified in both single- and twin-engine aircraft and still maintains an airplane in nearby Leesburg, VA. He enjoys spending time on his small farm where he raises beef cattle and grows corn and hay.
Established in 1917, the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association (TLPA) is a non-profit trade association of and for the private passenger transportation industry. Its extensive membership spans the globe to include 1,100 taxicab companies, executive sedan and limousine services, airport shuttle fleets, non-emergency medical transportation companies, and paratransit services. For more information, please visit www.tlpa.org.