A little tidbit that many of you may not know: LCT Magazine was founded in 1983 and our first issue was published in April. Our parent company, Bobit Business Media, purchased LCT after three issues and Ty Bobit personally was the designated publisher and sales manager. He was 30 years old when he took the reins. The entire publication was created in black and white — no color! The big news at the time was the debut of the all-new velour interior limo with center console to hold the first car phone. It is bigger than a boot box and truly hysterical to look back at.
LCT Magazine, originally named Limousine & Chauffeur, was the first step in tying the industry together. Up to that point, it was simply a small, fragmented group of family owned businesses that minded their own stores and did not know the first thing about “networking” or “collaborating.”
The response to the printed piece was so great that we decided to see what would happen if we held an industry event — a party of sorts to bring our advertisers and our readers together under one roof. Thus, the first-ever show was born in 1984. We chose Caesar’s Palace in Atlantic City to host this inaugural event. The National Limousine Association was formed at that Show by a group of operators who met in the coffee shop as the Show was going on. Ty Bobit was named an honorary founding father of the NLA and throughout the 1980s worked alongside the NLA to solidify and legitimize this business. And, by connecting operators coast-to-coast with a means to communicate, the seed was planted for evolution.
I came into the picture in 1991 as the show manager, then publisher in 1994 when Ty was promoted to president of the company. By that time, the NLA had 500 members and used our Show as its platform for meeting with all of its members. The association wanted more support. Putting on our own seminar program was a struggle. They were better equipped to handle that piece of the show while LCT managed the expo and all of the ancillary events surrounding it. So it made sense to both parties to come together and build one mega-watt industry event.
For the NLA’s part, it receives 75% of the registration revenues from the Show. Today that program is still soundly intact. The NLA members who attend the LCT events receive a special discount, but most of the fee is recycled back into the industry via the industry’s only non-profit trade association! Case in point: Last year the NLA received a Show proceeds check from LCT for $200,000. We are very proud that we can honestly state that, for more than 20 years, the NLA has received $4 million in money and marketing credits from us. And, we are happy to do it. We think that an industry that has a unified front is a more powerful and more protected group. There is strength in numbers as the adage goes.
The might and maturation of the NLA is best evidenced by its recent win with the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C. It succeeded in convincing the DOL (and the IRS for that matter) to back off on tips becoming factored as part of wage and overtime.
The feature article by LCT contributing writer Linda Jagiela, details the net effects of what this really means to your business and our industry. You must know we were literally teetering on the brink of extinction up until two months ago. This fight wasn’t won with pitchforks and torches. The DOL was met by serious-minded, button down collar operators who were able to sell respect and credibility. That, folks, is our turning point, and there is no looking back. The industry’s amateurish frat-brat era is over. You only have to watch the movie “Casino” to know that we are experiencing our own paradigm shift. We are living it as I type this.
It’s an exciting time for the up-and-up companies that have been burdened by illegal operators and cutthroat competition. If you can’t sell class, trust and credibility, you can’t survive this business anymore. That only means more open doors for us. We want to be attractive to prospective banks and even buyers.
I salute you. We are excited and extremely optimistic about where this industry is heading. Keep being excellent.
LCT 30th Anniversary Tribute Video