The founder of Schlepper, Jackson Partrich, made his dreams of becoming an entrepreneur a reality earlier this year, and he did it before graduating from high school.
“I feel like this is such a needed company,” said Partrich, who is currently a senior at Frankel Jewish Academy in West Bloomfield. “In a society where seniors can’t drive, there’s Ubers and Lyfts but seniors don’t always feel comfortable in them or they don’t know how to use the app.”
Enter Schlepper, an affordable and private transportation service for seniors, which began its operations in March. The company’s services range from $12 for drop-off to $16 per hour for round-trip errand rides, which can be requested on their website or by contacting Partrich through email or over the phone.
The team currently has six employees working for the Bloomfield Hills 17-year-old, aged between 25 and 60, with a few former Uber drivers among them. There are also high schoolers working for Schlepper who drive on weekends and after school. Being at Frankel Jewish Academy played a large role in forming Schlepper. Partrich said the academy has an emphasis on the importance of helping the senior community.
“I think this is almost a way to give back,” he said. “Like, all they’ve done to get us to this point, the least we can do for them is give them a nice, affordable ride.”
While some may compare Schlepper to Uber or Lyft for seniors, Partrich feels they are going one step above and beyond by really forming relationships with their clients. It’s all in their slogan: “A ride to take, a bond to make.”
“I want a client to call me back and say, ‘Hey, I have a ride next week, I want to use so-and-so again. She was so great, we had such a great time together,’” he said. “That’s what I want.”
Partrich – who is very close with all four of his grandparents – hopes a company like this can also help bridge the gap between younger and older generations. He thinks they have a lot to learn from them, especially during Schlepper rides, where conversations cover everything from current events and religion to pets and sports. No stone is left unturned.
Luckily for Partrich his clients are just as chatty with their friends about his company as they are with his drivers.
“In our community it’s all about word-of-mouth,” he said. “So when I drove my first lady she told two ladies, who told four ladies...that’s just how it works.”
Now Partrich finds himself being asked if he’s the schlepper when he’s wandering around town.
Speaking of, how did he come up with the name “schlepper?”
“It’s a word we use in our home. Its like, ‘Will you schlep me here?’ or ‘It’s such a schlep.’” Partrich said. “It’s a yiddish word that kind of means ‘to go somewhere.’ So we’re just schlepping around.”
Partrich wants the company to be “schlepping” for years to come, including when he goes away to college next year. His plan is to have Schlepper become a tradition at his high school, where another senior will become the leader of the company when he’s gone.
“I’ll make sure it stays strong and it’s still an amazing service,” he said.
And seeing what he’s done with Schlepper so far, no one doubts that.
Photo: Laurie Tennent