Tara Grewal, managing partner of Griffin Transportation Worldwide Chauffeured Services in Vancouver, B.C.
How did you get into the industry — what did you do before?
I worked in the banking industry for seven years, from bank teller up to financial services representative. I had the opportunity to come back into the [limousine] business in 2004 to work with my father. I had been around the limo business since I was 10 years old. I like the fact that I don’t do the same thing every day.
What are some of your company’s main achievements?
Providing service for the 2010 Winter Olympics. We also have done quite a few governmental and foreign delegation movements. Since we are part of motorcades, our chauffeurs are security cleared. We’re also the preferred supplier for provincial and federal governments. They will refer us if a there is a different country coming and they need security-trained and cleared chauffeurs.
What is unique about chauffeured services in Canada compared to the U.S.?
We’re actually similar to the U.S. While most U.S. cities are slow this time of year, these are my busiest months. Vancouver and Whistler are big destinations. We do little retail work; it’s mostly corporate.
What are key challenges of your service area/region?
Our licensing in the city of Vancouver requires one limousine for every two sedans. That’s hard to change and it’s been in effect for a long time. They don’t understand that limos aren’t being ordered. Limos just sit unless they’re going to a funeral. Another problem is illegal operators who are undercutting rates and compromising quality and service levels.
What qualities do you look for in a U.S. affiliate?
I go off reputation, referrals, and how they represent themselves at a [trade] show. Do you have an office? Are you answering phones out of your car? When we do a speed meet, you look for how someone is representing themselves. Are you wearing jeans? Do you have a business card? Do you have a referral from someone in your city?
What are your primary business challenges?
Space is difficult to find in Vancouver, finding raw land. We actually would love to have our own mechanics to cut costs. It’s not a large market, so finding experienced staff is difficult. A lot of companies are starting to move out of Vancouver. It’s also challenging to farm out motorcoach work and find bus companies that have the same service levels and quality. Their standards are different. They’re bus drivers, not chauffeurs.
What regulation(s) would you change in favor of the limousine industry?
Licensing would be a huge one. I would definitely increase the ratio of limousines to sedans to 1 to 5 or 1 to 10.
What types of clients do you typically serve?
Corporate, DMC and road shows. One of our managing partners, Mark Mahedy, likes to say we’re driving clients who are driving our economy. We are an extension of their office. They are working in the car.
What are your top-rented vehicles?
Everything except stretch limousines. Because we are a DMC market and many corporate clients are doing big events, they are using buses and larger vehicles. Executives doing a road show would rather be in a SUV than a sedan.
What are the future plans for your company?
We’d like to increase our client base. We want to drive home the one-stop shop for our traveling clients.
FAST FACTS: Griffin Transportation Worldwide Chauffeured Services
- Location: Vancouver, B.C.
- Year founded: 1999
- Managing partners: Maninder Grewal, Tara Grewal, Mark Mahedy [Maninder Grewal, father of Tara, bought into Griffin in 2001 after acquiring other Vancouver limousine companies].
- Types of vehicles: sedans, stretches, SUVs, executive and luxury vans, mini-buses
- Fleet size: 35
- Employees: 40
- Annual revenues: $3 million
- Website: www.griffintransportation.com
- Contact: (604) 682-4474