Muk-Muk is on the road
New Pond Inlet taxi venture a big success

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

POND INLET (Oct 01/99) - Gone are the days of having to hop onto an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) or a snowmobile with an armload of groceries in Pond Inlet's blustery winter conditions.

Now, thanks to James Agnetsiak and a little dream that he had, people wishing to travel in style -- or just in relative warmth -- can dial up a local North Baffin telephone number and enjoy a comfortable ride to their destination in a seven-passenger Chevy mini-van owned and operated by Muk-Muk Taxi.

Born and bred in Pond Inlet, Agnetsiak, whose middle name is Muk-Muk, launched his new business venture just two weeks ago and it's been smooth sailing ever since.

"On the first day, I had over 21 calls," said Agnetsiak, adding that "there would have been more (recorded) if they had all been written down."

Relying on his spouse, his children and his answering machine to lend him a helping hand with the dispatching end of the business, Agnetsiak said he starts his day at 8 a.m. and doesn't shut off his engine until midnight.

Customers pay $3 for a ride if they're not carrying groceries or baggage and $5 if they are carrying a load. At such low rates, Agnetsiak said, the more than 1,000 residents making up the municipality have been lining up to take a ride -- so much so that he said he's been behind the wheel constantly and has received great feedback from all of his fares.

"They're all saying it's a good thing to have a taxi here. Everybody's happy and they're supporting me. It's fun and it's more experience and I'm getting to know all the houses and house numbers," said Agnetsiak.

Still a newcomer to the world of driving cab, the former First Air agent, who took a year off to try the world of proprietorship, said he's already set his sights on growing his business and acquiring a second taxi.

Helen Ferrigan, the community economic development officer for the hamlet, helped Agnetsiak write the proposal to acquire funding for his original idea.

While having a second cab would create additional future employment in the community, she said the benefits of the new business could already be felt in the continually growing hamlet.

"We really needed this kind of service. The benefits to the community have already started, especially for the elders and the people with small kids who couldn't get around the community before," said Ferrigan.

"It also makes us more attractive to visitors in the community."

Also a regular customer, Ferrigan further noted that Agnetsiak's courage and success with Muk-Muk would serve as encouragement and a model for other residents planning similar ventures.

"He's taking a risk, but working really hard and showing people that if they have a good business opportunity and they're willing to work hard, they can be successful with their own business."