In a show that was packed with memorable moments, 1996 Olympic decathlon champion Dan O’Brien, former Pittsburgh Steeler running back and Vietnam veteran Rocky Bleier, and 1992 Olympic skier Vincent Poscente supplied stirring keynotes at the 13th Annual Limousine & Chauffeur Show in Atlantic City, NJ, November 11-13.
Show activities actually began with the National Limousine Association (NLA) dinner on November 10. The highlight of the NLA dinner was keynote speaker Dan O’Brien who talked about his ingredients to success.
“You must have vision, focus, persistence, discipline, and commitment to be successful,” says O’Brien. “Success takes place in the mind first. It must be inside of you before it can come out in you. How much can you give of yourself in anything that you do? How much can you give to your business? You must be mentally and physically strong.”
According to O’Brien, you need to expect greatness from yourself. “If you just concentrate on yourself and think that you’re the best, you’ll be successful,” says O’Brien. “You must never have doubt. To eliminate doubt, remember past successes. If you want things in life you can never give up.”
O’Brien ended his presentation with the following poignant message: “Good better best, never let it rest, until the good gets better and the better gets best.”
The official opening to the Limousine & Chauffeur
Show was Monday, November 11. The day started with two sets of informative seminars that included “Question Your Manufacturer” sessions with both Cadillac and Ford North American Fleet Operations.
In the Cadillac session, questions were fielded by Al Gagne, Cadillac Master Coachbuilder program manager; Jim Zoli, professional vehicle marketing manager; Don Ableson, professional vehicle line executive; and Mark Kleinschmidt, GMAC marketing manager.
In the Ford session, questions were answered by George Zigas, limousine and livery manager, Ford North American fleet operations, and Dave Hamernik, limousine qualified vehicle modifier (QVM) program engineering manager.
Each Cadillac and Ford representative answered insightful questions asked by several operators in two very educational sessions.
At the conclusion of the workshops attention focused on the State of the Industry presentation made by Sara Eastwood, publisher of Limousine & Chauffeur Magazine, and Ty Bobit, president of Bobit Publishing. All new industry statistics were presented that included regional revenue data on limousine services across the country.
The day’s keynote speaker was former Pittsburgh Steeler running back and Vietnam veteran Rocky Bleier who made a moving presentation to a packed ballroom.
“You must have perseverance and make a commitment in anything you attempt in life,” says Bleier. “However, sometimes we have a tendency to forget basic fundamentals. We learn a lot of lessons through the experiences we’ve had in our businesses. Sometimes we forget those lessons and need to be reminded. The lessons that we’ve learned have shaped us as people. From these lessons we have developed beliefs and values.
“When you start to question your abilities, all you have to do is look back on the experiences you had in those lessons. You must trust yourself. We all have an internal driving force to succeed. Successful people are just ordinary people doing an extraordinary job.”
NLA Executive Director Provides IRS Update
Tuesday, November 12th began with another day of informative seminars that included an IRS update by Wayne Smith, executive director of the NLA. After a four year battle, the NLA has negotiated an agreement with the IRS on the independent contractor issue.
“Our objective was to keep this agreement simple,” says Smith. “We cleaned up section 530 of the independent contractor agreement. If you were under audit, you had to show that a ‘substantial’ amount of operators in your metropolitan area operated the same way you operated in regard to independent contractors.”
However, there was no hard number for the term “substantial.” Is a substantial amount of operators considered 40 percent, 50 percent, or 80 percent? “Everyone had their own interpretation,” says Smith. “Finally, our representatives were able to persuade Congress that 25 percent was considered substantial.”
Also, according to Smith, in previous cities where operators have been audited and were victorious under section 530, those areas are exempt from audit because of the precedence that was previously set.
As the workshops concluded on day two, attendees began to make their way to the main ballroom to listen to the day’s keynote, 1992 Olympic downhill skier, Vincent Poscente.
Poscente talked about vision and commitment. “You must always visualize your goal,” says Poscente. “Utilize all five senses. Imagine how it will feel when your goal is attained.”
Poscente also believes in total and unwavering commitment.
“The little green man is that twinge of doubt that screams in your ear,” says Poscente. “The closer you get to realizing your goal, the louder, more unrelenting, more believable that goal becomes.”
Operators of the Year Named at Awards Banquet
At an elaborate awards banquet sponsored by Classic Limousine in Fountain Valley, CA, the 1997 Limousine & Chauffeur Operators of the Year were named.
David Seelinger, president/CEO of Empire International in Norwood, NJ; Jim Moseley, owner of James Limousine Service in Cherry Hill, NJ; and Hatem Elnahas, president of Limo Express in Alexandria, VA, were named winners in the large (over 20 vehicles), medium (11-20 vehicles), and small (1-10 vehicles) categories respectively.
“In this business you work so hard, sometimes 20 hours a day to make sure everything is right,” says Seelinger. “The award makes all the hard work worth it. Like hockey’s Stanley Cup, we are passing it from department to department. It is just a clear reminder of how hard everyone has worked through the years.”
“Being recognized in front of your peers is a very important thing,” says Moseley. “It’s something I’ve wanted to bring back to my staff. I want to acknowledge their significant contribution to this award. My staff is what’s made our’s the best limousine company. Training them and seeing the results is very gratifying.”
“What a great feeling,” says Elnahas. “I couldn’t have won the award without my wife Debbie, who has worked so hard since I started the company, and all the employees at Limo Express.”
Wednesday, November 13th marked the presentation of the first-ever Association Award of Excellence. In front of an estimated 300 people, the New England Livery Association (NELA) was named the recipient of the award in the large category (over 50 members) and the South Jersey Limousine Association (SJLA) was named the winner in the small category (1 to 50 members).
“The turnout at the awards presentation amazed me,” says Bill Buff, president of Park Lane Limousine in Westville, NJ, and a SJLA board member. “It was standing room only. The attendance showed me that people care about regional and state associations.”
“We are just figures trying to do the right thing for the industry,” says David Kiely, president of Classique Limousine in Northbridge, MA, and second vice president of NELA. “It’s vitally important that people are aware of what’s happening in their part of the country.”
Show Attracts International Attendees
Over 2,300 attendees came from across the United States and from around the globe. International attendees included operators from France, Jordan, Germany, Switzerland, England, Canada, and Puerto Rico.
The NLA raised over $30,000 for various charities at several auctions held throughout the show and also announced its candidates for 1997 Board spots. They are: Charles Bale of Corporate Coach in Shawnee Mission, KS, Central Region; Craig Del Fabro of Indy Connection Limousines in Indianapolis, IN, Central Region; Alan Fisher of London Livery in Atlanta, GA, Central Region; Dan Gatti of Cosmopolitan Coach Co. in Louisville, KY, Central Region; Carl Geiger of Atlantic Limousine in Pleasantville, NJ, Eastern Region; Lewis Hardee of Silver West Limousines in Fort Worth, TX, Central Region; George Jacobs of American Limousines in Burr Ridge, IL, Central Region; Ed Martinez of Manhattan International in New York, NY, Eastern Region; Darryl Norman of Riches & Roses Limousine Service in Charlotte, NC, Eastern Region; I Erich Reindl of Avanti Limousines in Houston, TX, Central a Region; Michele Rossi of Admiral Limousine in Denver, CO, Central Region; Cory Rozen of Uptown Limousine in Binghamton, NY, Eastern Region; Jacob Salem of 1st American Limousine in Boston, MA, Eastern Region; and Dean Schuler of Signature Livery in New Orleans, LA, Central Region.