Is the Stretch Dead?

Posted on June 8, 2015 by Tom Halligan - Also by this author

Alpha CEO Terry Kurmay’s fleet of white stretches still has traction.
Alpha CEO Terry Kurmay’s fleet of white stretches still has traction.

During a recent operator road trip in Florida following our LCT Leadership Summit in Miami Beach, I visited Terry Kurmay, president of Alpha Limousine (Pinellas Park) which bills itself as the “oldest limousine company in Tampa Bay.” Terry, who also is a board of director with the West Florida Livery Association, has been around the block a few times in this industry and has seen just about everything. That includes a robbery attempt back in 2013 where 26 bullets were pumped into one of his stretch limos carrying 12 passengers. Luckily, no one was injured in the incident.

We talked about his fleet and I noticed he had four white stretches on his lot. “Interesting, we get a lot of work out of our white stretches on weekends. We found a niche in that many African American only want white stretches for funerals because of cultural tradition. So we’ll run the white stretches in the morning for funerals, then use them for weddings in the afternoons, and then again at night for proms and other outings and events,” said Kurmay.

Considering that many in the industry are putting the nail in the coffin for stretches, opting instead for buses of all sizes and configurations, our just published June annual Industry Fact Book found that operators still add a new stretch or two to their fleets. What it comes down to is that operators today have such diverse fleets that offer something for everyone as they figure out what vehicles best serve their particular market and provide the greatest return on investment.

But maybe the eventual death of the stretch is premature. Consider Mercedes is coming out next year with its brand new Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullman that is off-the-charts in passenger luxury, comfort and amenities. This alpha stretch is 21.3-feet long and features two rows of plush executive seats that face each other. The facing seats can be tucked away so the fully-adjustable executive rear seats can be reclined for additional comfort and leg room.

Sure the projected half-million dollar road yacht is not going to be on the shopping list of Mom and Pop Limo Company for its prom runs, but maybe the Pullman’s panache jump-starts a revival of stretches? Look at Lincoln announcing it is reviving the Continental that was scraped in 2002. Times change, but history is chock full of examples of long departed products and brands that somehow come back into retro vogue. Look for example at the resurgence of vinyl records and high-end turntables that have made a niche comeback. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll again see 8-track and cassette players in the rear of a limo?

Naaah…some things need to remain dead and buried.

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