A couple weeks back, I did my first reader visit for LCT Magazine. I had the good fortune of visiting Black Tie Limousine in Haverhill, Mass., which will mark its 30th year of operation this September, just like LCT.
Though Black Tie was the first limo operator I visited, as soon as I stepped foot inside, I had a hunch its facilities were exceptional. (Philip Jagiela, executive director for the National Limousine Association, who I was traveling with, confirmed my hunch.) The offices have a classic design — lots of wood-grain, ceramic and marble floors, and consistent theme of antique maps — and the garage was absolutely spotless.
Mark founded Black Tie in 1983 as a single car operation while also working at a hotel tending bar. He bought a 1976 Cadillac with jump-seats and started doing early morning airport runs and weekend jobs. In the 30 years since, Black Tie has gone from an “answering machine and a kitchen table,” to a 45-vehicle operation.
In January 2007, Black Tie moved into its current location, a 66,000-square-foot facility, which means no longer having to battle the unkind Massachusetts winter weather and constant shoveling of the lot. Cars come in from a job, get detailed, prepped and staged, all under one roof. There’s even a chauffeur lounge and showers for part-timers who might not have time to get home before work.
Not surprisingly, Mark uses his top-notch digs to his advantage. When he has client meetings, he sends a car to pick them up and bring them to Black Tie. Not only are they less likely to cancel the appointment that way, but once they see his place, they’re undoubtedly impressed.
Black Ties splits its business between corporate and retail business about 70/30. “We’re very fortunate that we’ve been able to do both worlds,” said Mark, adding that marketing to the two segments requires walking the line between the two. To this end, Black Tie will occasionally host wine and cheese receptions. “We find it has been successful in showcasing our facility in addition to the opportunity for our clients and potential clients to get to know our staff that we are so very proud of.”
The most recent addition to the Black Tie fleet is a 28-passenger trolley bus, purchased from Specialty Vehicles in Las Vegas. “It has been well received in the wedding and special events market. We are very encouraged by the interest in the corporate market as well. We have found that the interest in the corporate market has been popular with employee outings and team building events.”
Thanks to Mark for showing me around. I’ll have more company visit reports on this blog.
— Denis Wilson, LCT East Coast Editor
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