Operations

Canadian Operator Benefits From A Tough TNC Stance

Posted on December 17, 2014 by

Griffin Transportation managing partners (L to R): Nik Grewal, Maninder Grewal, Tara Grewal, and Mark Mahedy along the Vancouver waterfront.
Griffin Transportation managing partners (L to R): Nik Grewal, Maninder Grewal, Tara Grewal, and Mark Mahedy along the Vancouver waterfront.
VANCOUVER, B.C. — During the last decade, Tara Grewal has led Griffin Transportation through the big challenges of chauffeured transportation, from the advent of Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), to the adoption of faster technology, to demand for more group service.

Grewal runs the company with managing partners Mark Mahedy, Nik Grewal, her brother, and Maninder Grewal, her father, who bought into the company in 2001 after acquiring other area limousine companies. Griffin Transportation, founded in 1999, now operates as a major provider of luxury transportation in the province of British Columbia, and serves as a go-to affiliate for many major U.S. limousine companies.

LCT Magazine recently spoke with Grewal about the state of livery up north, including the famous ban on TNCs, which another Vancouver operator described during a discussion at the Greater California Livery Association Expo in September. Like U.S. companies, Griffin must constantly adjust to quickening regulatory and technological changes.

LCT Magazine: Since you last spoke to LCT three years ago, how has Vancouver handled its burdensome limo to sedan ratio of 1:2?

Tara Grewal: The ratio has been changed to one limo for every five sedans, which is far more manageable. Toronto also has the same ratio in effect. It’s an old bylaw to protect the taxi industry and in effect protect the limousine industry as well.
• • • • •

One of Griffin’s Mercedes-Benz S550s parked at a popular hotel for clients, the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.
One of Griffin’s Mercedes-Benz S550s parked at a popular hotel for clients, the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.

LCT: How has Vancouver and Canada in general been dealing with the spread of TNCs?

TG: Uber is the only one that tried to enter the Vancouver market illegally in the fall of 2012, but they were banned by the Passenger Transportation Board. However, there have been rumblings that Uber is returning, whether or not they are allowed. A couple of weeks ago they had a hiring fair for potential Uber and UberX drivers to come and sign up, despite the fact they are banned. Around the same time, the Vancouver City Council voted to keep ride-sharing apps like Uber at bay for at least six months while they research the impact on the taxi industry. There is definitely a shortage of cabs here, so hopefully with the addition of new cab licenses it will fulfill the public need.
• • • • •
LCT: What changes and improvements has Griffin made in the last few years?

TG: We purchased a piece of property and built a new office over the past year. We are looking forward to moving in the next couple of weeks. Our fleet now has 35 vehicles made up of sedans, SUVs, vans, Sprinters and buses. We’ve added a couple of Sprinters, executive minibuses and a couple of Cadillac XTS’s. Our primary sedan choice is still undecided; we are looking to add a couple of Lincoln MKSs in the near future.
• • • • •
LCT: How has demand for group transportation factored into your client and fleet mix?

TG: For us, Vancouver is a large destination market so the group business has always been there but we are definitely seeing the volume return. The annual TED conference has decided to make Vancouver their indefinite home after holding their event here in March. In general, our buses are being kept busy during the peak months. We’ve always had minibuses in our fleet; the only change is we are seeing an increase in requests for executive minibuses.
• • • • •
LCT: What approaches do you use in landing new clients?

TG: We get a lot of referrals and we have focused on SEO optimization and re-did our website. We are also a member of many industry related organizations and I attend a lot of networking events. It’s been going very well. We’ve been seeing year-over-year steady increases.

Tara Grewal worked in the banking industry but grew up in the limousine business watching her father grow Griffin Transportation. In 2004, she came back to the family business and has pursued numerous improvements.
Tara Grewal worked in the banking industry but grew up in the limousine business watching her father grow Griffin Transportation. In 2004, she came back to the family business and has pursued numerous improvements.
• • • • •
LCT: How does your company compete against TNCs?

TG: We are fortunate to have a mix of business that range from groups/events, road shows, corporate, and more, and we are focusing on the business we do have and keeping up with technology. As an owner, I keep up to date with what is going on with Uber, and continue to educate our clients and fight to keep them and Uber-like operators out of our market.
• • • • •
LCT: What are some of your best practices for handling affiliate work?

TG: Affiliate business is going great. We mostly do farm-in but are seeing a steady increase in our farm-outs. The most important thing to remember for successful affiliate work is that you are an extension of that company and have to treat every client like a VIP. Our chauffeurs are security cleared, so we can handle official motorcades. We’re also the preferred supplier for provincial and federal governments. They will refer us if there is a different country coming and they need security-trained and cleared chauffeurs.  
• • • • •
LCT: What improvements have you made on the technology front?

TG: We are still using Odyssey but are going to go live with Santa Cruz in the next month. With the move to Santa Cruz, it will significantly improve our technological aspect of our business so we are very much looking forward to it.
• • • • •
LCT: As a regular attendee at all of the industry trade shows, what keeps you interested and challenged in the limousine business?

TG: What’s not to like? Every day is different and you never know what you’re going to walk into every morning. You get the opportunity to meet and work with so many different types of people, and last but not least, I’ve made some great friends along the way.

FASTFACTS

Griffin Transportation
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Year founded: 1999
Managing partners: Maninder Grewal, Tara Grewal, Mark Mahedy, Nik Grewal
Vehicle types: Sedans, stretch limousines, SUVs, executive and luxury vans, mini-buses
Fleet size: 35
Employees: 40
Annual revenues: $4 million
Website: www.griffintransportation.com
Contact: (604) 682-4474

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