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Tristar CEO Dean De Beer runs a chauffeured transportation network spanning 80 countries and serving a diverse global corporate clientele.
2012 has shaped up as a pinnacle year for the largest chauffeured transportation provider based outside the U.S.
London-based Tristar Worldwide Chauffeur Services was granted the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade in April that officially recognizes its outstanding export achievement.
Such an award carries major clout for the 36-year-old, storied limousine company, now spanning 80 nations worldwide. The annual awards, made by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister, are the U.K.’s highest accolade for business success. The awards celebrate U.K. companies and encourage the growth of British business overseas. To win a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade, a company has to show a substantial and sustained growth in overseas revenue over three consecutive years.
Tristar has pulled off what few luxury transportation providers can: A seamless, “no barriers” global chauffeured network that cobbles together numerous operations and affiliates to provide a safe, reliable, quality experience for international business and leisure travelers alike. It has succeeded despite global recessions, volatile economies, shifting local political situations, and operational challenges.
Almost in the same breath that CEO Dean De Beer accepted the award last Spring, he hinted at what is always driving the company forward: “At the same time we are exploring opportunities in a number of developing markets and continue to offer new services, such as the recent launch of our luxury chauffeur driven minicoach service in the UK.”
Constantly adopting new and emerging markets has been key to building Tristar toward its status as one of the top five chauffeured transportation companies in the world. It was ranked No. 3 on LCT Magazine’s 2012 100 Largest Fleets List. Tristar has resulted from decades of connections, affiliate visits, vetting of standards, innovation, and cultivation of clients, say its two leading executives, De Beer and Michael Fogarty, CEO of Tristar United States.
De Beer and Fogarty recently offered an overview of Tristar’s background, approach and future ambitions at the close of a hallmark year.
Tristar initially grew out of an arrangement with Virgin Atlantic to provide chauffeured service for the airline’s first class passengers.
A First Class beginning
Tristar Worldwide began in 1978 as an airport transfer company at London Gatwick Airport, the city’s second largest airport behind Heathrow. Its first growth period stemmed from a major contract with Virgin Atlantic to handle complimentary limousine service for first class passengers.
“We effectively grew up on the back of Virgin’s success,” De Beer says. “They were instrumental in helping us to develop our high end service offering and, as more and more airlines offered the complimentary service, we picked up that business.”
One of the ripple effects of providing high-end chauffeured service was that many of the clients flying first class also happened to be corporate executives and managers who traveled regularly for business. Many of them liked the Tristar service while flying on various international airlines, and soon were asking for arrangements and contracts to handle chauffeured service for their respective corporations.
By 1996, the original group of owners had taken the company as far as they wanted to, De Beer said. A new team of investors acquired Tristar and appointed a new management team, aggressively taking the company to the next level as a chauffeured service for airlines, corporate and international travelers with affiliates worldwide. The company diversified into the largest chauffeured service provider based outside of the United States by extending its range of services to include financial roadshow and event transportation. De Beer served as a director until 2008 when he and the senior management team acquired Tristar in a private equity deal that left the senior management team as the controlling shareholders and De Beer as CEO.
De Beer points out that while London has transportation services with larger fleets, Tristar to this day remains the largest operation with a luxury fleet of vehicles dedicated to high-end service.
Within the industry, it has also distinguished itself as first rate identifier and cultivator of talent, with a uniquely rigorous chauffeur training program, and a commitment to its chauffeurs that results in long-term relationships and a track record of steady, consistent service provided by a loyal group of employees.