McGillicuddy and his pet Emu, Marc Anthony. McGillicuddy and Spirina are bird lovers, and Spirina raises white doves for release at weddings which she adds to the company’s services. McGillicuddy often can be seen at GCLA meetings and industry events in his signature hat with long Emu feather.
Air One Limousine Service
Location: San Jose, Calif.
Owners: Olga Spirina and Russell McGillicuddy
Main service region: Silicon Valley/Santa Clara County, Calif.
Vehicle types: sedans, SUVs, and Sprinter Vans
Fleet vehicles: 4
Annual revenues: $380,000
Contact: (408) 374-4594
Customer service approaches: Co-owners Olga Spirina and Russell McGillicuddy strive to make sure vehicles are always kept clean and garaged when not in use, and that chauffeurs wear black-and-white uniforms and arrive 15 minutes before pickup time with chilled bottles of water.
Types of clients: Air One Limousine has a clientele of mostly business travelers. Located in Silicon Valley, the company sees many executives on vacations, and also receives a good share of retail work like nights on the town, wine tours and weddings. “We are trying to stay away from party people and proms though,” Spirina says.
Best marketing strategies: “We have a lot of repeat business and referrals from our clients, and Limos.com has helped us and so has advertising on Yelp,” Spirina says. “We give each client the receipt envelope with our postcard and business cards enclosed, and we offer everybody a nice pen with our phone number and website engraved on it.”
What they did before: McGillicuddy worked more than 15 years driving buses and light rail in the San Francisco Bay Area for the San Mateo County Transit District and the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, and worked as a chauffeur for a few Bay Area companies.
Why they got into the industry: “Passion for cars and driving,” says McGillicuddy, who at the precocious age of 16 even started picking up hitchikers around town in his father’s car just because he loved to give people rides. Spirina, a biology graduate from Moscow State University, says she always enjoyed being the driver for her group of friends while living in Los Angeles when she worked at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Start-up costs and methods: Spirina took her retirement money and purchased permits for the first two vehicles. Already interested in getting into the industry, the two went together to the 2006 International LCT Show to do research and realized they would love to do this kind of business.
Chauffeur Faustino Rodriguez and Russell McGilligudy with the 12-Passenger Sprinter Van that has garnered the business a lot of added revenue since adding it to the fleet in 2012.
Lessons from mistakes: “Never invest any money into older vehicles, unless it is a classic wedding car,” Spirina says. “We had a 1994, six-passenger stretch Cadillac, and we invested a lot of money into this vehicle and it did not make it within one year of us having it.” She also says that at the time they did not know where to go to purchase proper vehicles, and had yet to learn of fleet programs that help limousine operators purchase vehicles.
Fleet growth: Not too fast. “We are buying cars only to replace the aged equipment or when we feel we absolutely need to because of the amount of business,” McGillicuddy says.
Technology: Air One uses Limo Anywhere reservation software, GPS tracking devices in the vehicles, and apps on the smart phones, including Sigalert, Flight View, Flightaware and Driver Anywhere.
Advice for operators: Spirina says: “Be creative, but conservative.”