Radisson Wis - It was a humid summer day in the ‘Just a Game' Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin where 50+ kids from northern Wisconsin were participating in an AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) basketball tournament. Joshua “Hootie” Hautamaki, said, “I really need to buy a bus for all [of] these athletes” referring to the number of Winter School District kids that were participating in the tournament.
Hootie Hautamaki is the Player Development Associate for Rising Stars Basketball, an extremely active community member, and even more involved parent. One of the greatest obstacles for young athletes in the Winter School District was not finding opportunities, but finding transporation to and from the various opportunities available in the area. Hootie had been the primary form of transporation for a lot of athletes in 2022 while they drove to and from the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe School gymnasium for basketball practices. The bigger challenge was cramming into an SUV or pickup truck to go down to Wisconsin Dells for tournament play. Something had to change.
Every Challenge Is an Opportunity
Finding rides had became an issue, a good problem to have for Winter Warrior athletics on the girls and boys side. Hootie jokingly said aloud to the rest of the parents, “I’ll call it ‘Hooties Hauler” and the group laughed. Just eight (8) months later, Rachel Hautamaki (Hooties' wife) created Rachel Lee Enterprises LLC, doing business as Hooties Hauler, which was a local safe ride and service for Tavern Tours. The first purchase was a 14 passenger bus.
Out of a necessity of outgrowing the Buick Enclave SUV for providing transportation for Winter School District athletes to and from basketball activities, a bus was purchased and dubbed, “Hooties Hauler.” The bus was named, Lady J, which birthed the name out of a Rising Stars Basketball merchandise order gone wrong. The shirts arrived with the name, “Lady J” on them. This was an ongoing joke, and later Hootie named the bus “Lady J.”
The Opportunity Pays Off
The first three weeks in operation Hooties Hauler had eleven (11) bookings, and was forced to turn down four (4) because of lack of capacity. Shortly after, Hooties Hauler purchased another bus with the capacity to handle larger groups.
Lady J is the smaller bus that handles 14 seats, and the larger bus handles 44 seats. The larger bus is named, “Big D.”
Hooties Hauler, today, has two buses
Both buses are now booked regularly every weekend for various purposes.
The buses are booked for the following reasons:
Most of the bookings come from:
What started out as a service to provide support for:
Has now turned into a flourishing business with multiple events booked weekly with both buses.
Hooties Hauler is family owned and operated. Rachel owns the business, Hootie drives the buses, Logan and Haylee clean and sanitize the buses on a regular basis.
In addition to the bookings, Hooties Hauler also provides UTV rental services with two Polaris SXS rentals that are also booked regularly. The two SXS units are cleaned, sanitized and prepared every weekend by the Hautamaki family and rented to various weekend travelers and locals alike to ensure a great weekend of enjoying Southern Sawyer County. The SXS rentals are encouraged to explore Southern Sawyer County as Hooties Hauler is just 50 feet away from the Tuscobia State Trail, which spans from Birchwood Wisconsin to Park Falls Wisconsin.
Hooties Hauler has been pivotal in bringing visitors to the Southern Sawyer County region and the tavern tours have helped share the “Hidden Gems” with travelers.
100 Bookings in Just 9 Months
On September 25, 2023, Hooties Hauler celebrated its 100th booking for safe rides in Southern Sawyer County.
In just 9 months time Hooties Hauler grew into a 2 bus operation that provides safe transportation and SXS rentals.
Giving back is essential
Today, Hooties Hauler has provided over $11,000 in free transportation for various events and clubs, and helped organize fundraisers which raised over $3,000 for youth sporting events and local booster club. Hooties Hauler hjas also donated over $2,500 in Hooties Hauler certificates for fundraisers and benefits.
Hooties Hauler has both sponsored and donated to:
Future plans for Hooties Hauler include rentals for canoes, kayaks, and tubes, whereas Hooties Hauler will bring guests to the Wannigan. The Wannigan is located right on the Chippewa River where they can float or paddle down the river right into Ojibwa or Radisson on two different excursions. Transportation, canoes, kayaks, and tubes will be provided. Hootie, Rachel, Logan and Haylee shared a collective comment, "Thank you to all that have supported us and we can’t wait to bring more great service to small community and surrounding area."
To learn more about Hooties Hauler, visit https://www.hootieshauler.com
Hooties Hauler is owned and operated by Rachel Lee Enterprises out of Radisson Wisconsin.