Jamie Ndah catches up with Jonny Goldstone, the MD of Green Tomato Cars – London largest green taxi company to talk about his lifestyle and what makes the business so successful.
LM: Tell us a little about Green Tomato Cars?
Jonny: We are London’s original and largest green taxi company, providing environmentally friendly and people friendly transport in and around London, through our fleet of hybrid or zero-emission cars. We provide private hire cars for businesses or for individuals, at affordable rates and have a team of highly skilled, friendly drivers. As well as being green, we are also a highly ethical company, putting people at the centre of our business, investing in training for our staff and drivers and working with local charities and communities.
LM: Where did the name come from and how was the brand Green Tomato Cars created?
Jonny: I started the company in 2006 with my Cambridge university friend Tom Pakenham, as we believed passionately that there was a need for an affordable, high quality green private hire business to serve Londoners. We started in west London with just four cars and grew rapidly.
The name was a happy accident – we asked a friend for a suggestion and he’d recently watched the film Fried Green Tomatoes, so he suggested that. We told him that was ridiculous so he said: “What about just Green Tomatoes?” By the time we were ready to start trading, we’d grown used to the name and received such a positive reaction, it stuck.
LM: Green Tomato Cars is London’s first environmentally friendly minicab service. How does this make you feel?
Jonny: We’re really proud of everyone who has made it the success it is. From all our customers – large corporates to private individuals – who have championed what we’re doing and spread the word; to all our staff who works so hard to provide the service we do, and engage with our ethical ethos; and most importantly, our drivers, who have always been the face of our business.
It’s amazing when you think back to when we started – people didn’t understand hybrid cars and would ask if a Prius could go on the motorway or over 30 mph. Now over half of all minicabs in London are Toyota Prius – we’re thrilled to have led that change, all the more so when you think about the reduction in emissions compared to those cars that are less fuel efficient.
LM: What’s your personal definition of luxury?
Jonny: I don’t define luxury by what something costs, but by how it makes you feel. Relaxation, peace of mind, physical comfort and wellbeing are the key for me. A stroll in the park, or a coffee reading the paper, can be as luxurious as a fancy meal or exclusive clothes.
LM: What are your passions away from Green Tomato Cars?
Jonny: For myself, I love cooking and photography and eating delicious food in the company of my family and close friends. I’m also passionate about access to education, as I believe it’s the greatest opportunity to increase equality and wellbeing. I’ve volunteered as a school governor and help out at my own children’s school quite a bit too. We had a driver at Green Tomato Cars, Eric, who set up a school in Ghana with his wife – we helped them set up a charity and raise significant funds to grow the school. There’s nothing more uplifting than helping someone realise their dreams.