NLA’s Julie Herring Dies After Long Cancer Battle
TAMPA, Fla. — Julie Herring, owner of Julie's Limousines & Coachworks in Clearwater, Fla. and a member of the NLA board of directors, died May 16 after a long battle with cancer. She was 45.
Herring was elected in February 2006 to represent the Southeast Region on the NLA board of directors through 2009 after long supporting the NLA. During her service to the NLA, she worked with then-president, Jeff Greene. Greene said, "Julie, in my mind, was one of the greatest operators of all time who worked tirelessly and unselfishly, devoting time and energy to helping people to make this industry a better place for all.”
Greene praised her hard work and dedication to the NLA and to the board stating that she was "without a doubt, one of the hardest working members of the NLA Board of Directors," a sentiment echoed by current president, Richard Kane. “She had so much energy,” Kane said. “She always thought things through before making a decision. She had a passion to serve and frankly wanted to leave the association in better condition than when she arrived. I think she achieved her goal.”
Herring was Chair of the Public Relations Committee and served on the Auction and Show committees. She also was Vice-Chair on the Political Action Committee. She attended all industry events and worked to improve the image and rights of operators nationwide, including her own battle with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2002. The agency attempted to force a fine upon Julie without due process and Julie successfully prevailed in court, likely sparking her to become an advocate for other operators nationwide.
Herring also was a contributing member to her community who made civic contributions such as sponsoring the annual Teacher of the Year Program for the Hillsborough Education Foundation. She also served as President of the Navy League, Boca Del Rey chapter.
Herring started Julie's Limousines & Coachworks in Clearwater, Fla. in 1986 with a single six-passenger limousine she bought at an auction. The plan was to make a few extra dollars by doing weekend charters and supplement her income as a bank credit officer. Instead, she spent the next decade driving at night and booking trips in the day time. Along the way, she earned a regular spot on a morning radio show where she was known to listeners as, "Julie the Limo Driver.” Various contests were held on the radio show, and of course the winner got a ride with "Julie the Limo Driver" if they won. This gave Herring's company a lot of publicity in the community and steady income from the radio station each time the limousine was used.
That got business booming and she had to buy more limousines and a few Town Cars to keep up with the increased demand. By 1994, she had to lease a facility to store the fleet in, and moved from a home-based business to an office.
Finally, it grew so big that she knew it was time to give up driving so that she could better manage the growing business and work on expansion plans. Julie knew she could not land corporate accounts without the time to visit them. She also devoted time to develop marketing materials including temporary tattoos with her logo and corporate proposals that worked. It was a move that would prove highly successful as corporate accounts would become the staple of her business. Herring grew the business over the past 24 years to a fleet of 20 vehicles, 25 drivers, and 10 support workers. The company moved again in 2006 to a two-acre site including a 12,000 square-foot building.
Always leading the way, the Tampa Bay Business Journal recognized Herring in 2004 for use of technology in implementing an online reservations system allowing clients to book their own trips. As a leader, Herring was privileged to drive presidential candidates, rock stars, and high-profile athletes in addition to the standard proms and weddings. She always treated everyone she drove as a VIP. While Herring had to cut her normal 80-hour work week down to 20 as a result of chemotherapy treatments, it never affected her cheerful attitude and her desire to serve her clients and her fellow operators.
Herring will be missed by all who knew her, and the loss of her contributions to the industry will be missed as well. Kane said, “The NLA has lost a shining star with really big shoes to fill.” -- Jim Luff, LCT
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