Six years ago, Steve Mochel and his wife, Laura Shuler, decided to testdrive a new business in Rye by launching Fresh Green Light, an innovative driving school geared for the 21st century.
By Georgetta L. Morque
ix years ago, Steve Mochel and his wife, Laura Shuler, decided to testdrive a new business in Rye by launching Fresh Green Light, an innovative driving school geared for the 21st century. Since then, Fresh Green Light has taken off and now serves 25 communities from seven permanent locations in New York, Connecticut and Illinois. Over the past five years, as many as 5,000 students have gone through the program. Today, the company is continuing its course into more regions across the country.
“The goal was always to make it bigger and a national brand,” said Mochel, who works out of Fresh Green Light’s headquarters in Cos Cob, where the now familiar green and white cars are parked outside and the classroom and reception areas, painted with the brand’s signature lizard green, welcome students. During after-school hours, there’s a sweet aroma of chocolate chip cookies, freshly baked daily, another unique touch.
Yet, the real key to Fresh Green Light’s success is the product itself. “Driver’s Ed hadn’t changed in 60 years,” said Mochel. “The industry was ripe.” Mochel and Shuler did their research, focusing on the alarming statistic that car accidents are the leading cause of death of teenagers in the U.S. “We hit a nerve with parents that needed to be met.” The couple, with teens of their own, set out to reinvent driver’s education, bringing the outdated model up to speed, and most importantly, help save lives.
Fresh Green Light is a convenient and engaging program offering home and/or school pick-up, private instruction in camera-equipped hybrid cars with qualified teachers, online scheduling and class work, assessments that determine risk scores, computerized simulators so students can experience different driving scenarios and a special curriculum for those with ADD. A two-hour parent-teen introductory session gives parents an opportunity to reflect on their own behind-the-wheel habits, which kids tend to mirror, and provides some perspective on the importance of driving training in light of the many activities in a teenager’s life.
The results have been more than favorable. Students who completed the program had an accident rate of 11 percent compared to the national average of 50 percent. In their first year on the road, Fresh Green Light students have 75 percent fewer accidents than other teen drivers.
The company’s success also comes from sound business practices. Mochel and Shuler both hail from Jack Morton Worldwide, a global experiential marketing agency, and are good working partners. “You have to balance the idea and innovation with the reality of budget and profit and loss,” said Mochel, who is excited about the company’s growth. Westport and Fairfield were the most recent additions. Philadelphia and Boston are on the radar screen. He and Shuler own six locations and franchising started two years ago. Entrepreneur Magazine named Fresh Green Light one of 15 most innovative new franchise companies.
In Rye, Fresh Green Light continues to serve students at 411 Theodore Fremd Avenue. For more information, visit www.FreshGreenLight.com.