The morning after the Houston Livery and Charter Association’s (HALCA) annual holiday party, I got a chance to tour Erich Reindl’s Avanti Transportation headquarters and facility in Houston, Texas. Reindl has been at this location for seven years, and the company has come a long way from its humble beginnings.
When Reindl first started out, he says, it was as a limousine chauffeur for another company so he could make extra money at nights after his day job as a watchmaker. Reindl worked for five years as a chauffeur, making many friends and business contacts including another local chauffeur named Walter Haig. The two would meet late at night after their jobs were over, having breakfast around 3 a.m. or so at 24 hour diners, and during these meetings they decided to go into business for themselves and formed Avanti Limousine.
“We bought a limousine,” says Reindl, “a nine- or 10 year-old stretch limousine that was a real piece of junk, breaking down all the time.” But because of their combined industry experience, the work steadily increased, and within the first year of business Avanti was able to buy nine more vehicles, all brand new.
Avanti has its own washing system built on the property, cleaning vehicles more than 20 times a day.
The company grew rapidly that first year, but what really put Avanti on the map was winning a bid for a Norwegian cruise line opening operations in the nearby coastal city of La Porte. The cruise line company offered free rides to and from the docking station, and every Sunday needed about 300 people taken to and from the boat, within a four-hour window.
“It was crazy work. A nightmare,” Reindl says. “I wouldn’t do it again. But it gave us the exposure we needed.” Reindl managed the eight-month contract, and after its completion Avanti received more corporate contracts. Reindl says that even his own partner doubted whether they would land the contract, since they were so new and a relatively small company. But Reindl’s philosophy was to go for it. “Why not?,” he asks. “I tell people all the time if you have an opportunity to quote or bid on something, do it. It may be over your head, but who knows. The worst that can happen is you lose it, but if it works out, it puts you on the map.”
Five of Avanti's six SUVs parked inside the large storage and maintenance facility.
Now Reindl has 38 vehicles with Avanti, and is refocusing his efforts on the daily operations to make sure the company runs smoothly. He’s stepping down as President of HALCA, but will continue to be involved with meetings, “I’ll just be sitting in a different chair,” he jokes, and he will stay active at industry events and tradeshows.
The last two years have been a heavy workload for Reindl, who’s made countless trips to Houston’s City Council to advocate for fair regulations in regards to TNCs. The battle has been hard fought, and Reindl is confident the new HALCA board members will continue to bring up issues with public safety and proper insurance coverage.
A single Mercedes S550 is kept for VIP clients and upgrades.
For now, Reindl is focusing on keeping his fleet pristine, like his customers have come to expect, with models no later than two years, and vehicles washed every day. He says he is looking forward to taking more quiet time and relaxing some after his arduous work schedule these past few years.
Many thanks to Erich for showing me around Avanti Limousine and for the safe transport to IAH.
This Sprinter Van from Battisti Customs
has been a great addition to the fleet says Reindl.
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