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Yonkers car service driven to succeed

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

Paul Geraghty’s idea was not unusual: a few people putting some money aside every week with the hope of eventually starting their own business. The Athboy, Co. Meath, native didn’t even know what that business might be. Four years ago, it turned out to be the car and transportation service, Break for the Border, based on McLean Avenue in Yonkers.

As part owner of Break for the Border, Geraghty has not only seen a business idea come to fruition, he has also seen it become an integral part of the Irish community straddling the Bronx-Yonkers line. And, as Geraghty explains it, that’s no accident.

The bulk of Break for the Border’s business comes from local Irish and Irish Americans. But Geraghty and his partners, John Joe McGovern, from Swanlinbar, Co. Cavan, and an Italian named Frank Ferrante, passionately believe in “giving something back” to the community. In fact, Geraghty believes that is one reason for Break for the Border’s success.

“We contribute to nearly all things Irish, we are involved in everything,” Geraghty said. “Other companies may come in and lower their fares but they give nothing back. And the fellow who will argue with you over a dollar probably does not realize that.”

Geraghty, who’s 40, came to the U.S. in 1982. He had been working for Tara Mines, in Ireland, which was on strike at the time. “I just came out here to see what it was like, to give it a shot,” he said.

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He worked in the bar business in New York until 1994 when he, McGovern and Ferrante started Break for the Border.

“A lot of people were moving this way and we saw a big need for a car and limousine service here,” Geraghty said. “A lot of people were leaving Bainbridge, breaking to the border.”

“And they’re still breaking to the border,” quipped McGovern, referring to the Bronx-Yonkers line.

“We started off with five cars and soon we had 20 cars because the demand was there,” Geraghty said. “We saw the niche for this business here. Often, in the bars, you would hear people say they could never get a car. There were other smaller companies, but they couldn’t get the business that we got.”

Helping Break for the Border get that business is the fact that both Geraghty and McGovern are both well known within the Irish-American community. McGovern is president of the Fermanagh Football Club in New York and will soon be part of a Fermanagh club contingent traveling to Ireland for the Fermanagh County Final, of which the winning team will be awarded with a new gold cup presented by the Fermanagh GAA Club in New York and the Fermanagh Association in New York.

As with any transportation company, vehicle safety is of prime importance. But also foremost in Break to the Border’s priority, according to Geraghty, is passenger safety and welfare. The company is a participant in a McDonald’s-sponsored program called VIP Lifeline in which VIP Lifeline cardholders can summon a car in an emergency.

Break for the Border, eager to impart an image of professionalism and efficiency, will soon open a new customer service office at its 794 McLean Ave. base. “We also require our drives to wear white shirts, black pants and black shoes,” Geraghty said.

At present, Break to the Border owns 19 cars, a 15-passenger van, a 7-passenger van and a 10-passenger van. The company employs three dispatchers and has three people answering phones. Mary Ellen Scanlon-Quinn, whose father, John, came from Listowel, Co. Kerry, is office manager.

“This is a tough and demanding business, with long hours” Geraghty said. “Often it means going two days with no sleep.”

That may be so, but Geraghty, McGovern and Co. are far from being asleep at the wheel.

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