Operator Waits To See What Vehicles Big Guys Will Buy

Posted on August 24, 2011 by LCT Magazine

Last week I had the pleasure of visiting Joe Magnano of California Limousines Inc. at his sunny Laguna Hills, Calif. office to check out his operation and gain insight into industry issues. 
 
California Limousines Inc. was founded in 1995 and focuses on corporate work, serving Orange County and southern California with a 25-vehicle fleet of town cars, minibuses, stretch limousines, SUVs, and the Benz S 550.
 
One major topic of conversation, of course, was the retirement of the Lincoln Town Car and what vehicle will take its place. Magnano admitted it was tough to say because, while there are good vehicle options out there, a medium-sized operator such as he needs to pay close attention to what the bigger operations such as Carey, Music Express, and Dav El will do. They will be the ones who set the standard for what clients will be expecting from other operators and affiliates.
 
“I really like the Toyota Avalon; it’s roomy, reliable, inexpensive, but I don’t want to be the only one with an Avalon when all the bigger guys are running MKTs or new Cadillacs because it doesn’t look good,” Magnano said. LCT reported on another California operator — Chris Quinn of Sacramento-based Corporate Transportation Solutions — who tested out the Avalon his fleet. Read about it here.
 
Consistency with the big companies is especially important for Magnano, who’s rebranding his company as CLI Worldwide Transportation to take care of clients’ needs whenever and wherever they travel.
 
Magnano agreed that fleets will be looking a lot more mixed when the last of the Town Cars are cycled out, and posited that some operators may end up running their Town Cars longer than they normally would because they’re durable enough to perform well even with the extra mileage.
 
Airport regulations will also have an effect on vehicle choices due to the implementation of fuel-emissions standards that will influence vehicle permitting. Airport runs are the bread-and-butter of many operators, and the last thing they need is to end up loading their fleets with vehicles that won’t be allowed at airports.
 
Magnano also spoke with me about wanting to move onto the cloud to safeguard operations and information in the event of a computer crash or physical damage to the servers via building fire or flood. Since it’s still fairly new, there are some security concerns about the cloud, but it’s a technology that has a lot to offer, especially for operators looking to run their business more efficiently.
 
After our discussion, Magnano gave me a tour of his building, which is clean and well-organized. He introduced me to the IT guys, accounting department, reservations and dispatch. Then he took me down the street to his second office and vehicle yard, where a black Mercedes S 550 was being detailed. I noticed several car seats stocked up on a shelf, and Magnano told me that he directs his chauffeurs to let the clients install them because they would know how to do it properly and safely. Chauffeurs who do not have children would have no idea how to install them.
 
For more on how to handle car seat challenges, please read my colleague Jim Luff’s excellent blog post on the matter.
 
   Michael Campos, LCT assistant editor
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