An example of American Motor Products’ Michelin Fleet Card. Operators simply bring the card to their nearest Michelin dealer, and the code on the American Motor Products card coordinates with Michelin to make the discounted charges on the customer’s credit card.
Starting a new business in an unfamiliar industry can be tough, but Laird Mooney of American Motor Products is confident his services will catch on with limousine operators. By offering discounts on fleet management, Mooney tries to help operators save money on expenses they pay for anyway.
Saving on the unavoidable costs of doing business is much easier than to get them to invest in a new product or service they’ve never used before, Mooney says. “There are a lot of products out there in this industry, and a lot of promises which leads to skepticism. So our focus has been to save people money on things they already have to buy.
The challenge is the number of limo companies out there and getting to know them all. We’ve been at the tradeshows for the past couple of years, and most of them know our names and have seen us at one time or another.”
Mooney worked as a dealer for Saturn before starting American Motor Products. He had six stores in the San Diego, Calif., area when Saturn closed its doors in 2010, after which Mooney partnered with former colleague David Ward to start researching fleet services as a potential new career.
“We both had some experience in fleets, and when we got together we started looking at limousine fleets and what kinds of things they need, and it turned out it was some things we could help with,” he says.
The Heavy Duty Stretch Tire
One of the first items they targeted was the heavy duty tires needed for stretch limousines. “The P245/60R/17 with the T108 rating on it, weren’t available anymore because Michelin had stopped producing them when Ford stopped making the Town Car [sedan]. So we worked with Michelin to have them produce more and develop a fleet account.”
Operators who purchase American Motor Products’ Fleet Card can go to any of the 3,500 national account Michelin dealers and get their tires at a discount. “We have about 1,800 different tire sizes in our account,” Mooney says. “And we’re working with Michelin to get tires for other vehicles specific to the limo industry, like Cadillac and the new Lincoln MKT.”
American Motor Products has been running this program for about four months, with 200 participating operations that represent about 4,000 cars.
It’s a good strategy for two relative industry newcomers. “Neither one of us had a background in the limo industry specifically,” Mooney says. “But as a dealer I serviced commercial fleets a lot and knew about their problems and pricing. And Ward spent 20 years with Ford and Chrysler in the leasing and fleet divisions, so we kind of married up both sides.”
American Motor Products recently introduced a motor oil program through a partnership with Safety-Kleen, a used oil recycling company. Operators can buy a 50% recycled oil formulation at lower cost than standard motor oil. Safety-Kleen takes the used motor oil to be recycled again — all of which can be done by the barrel for larger operations.
The Beginning Of New Services
Some of the other programs that American Motor Products has available is a Roadside Assistance package where stranded limo chauffeurs can call toll-free emergency dispatch numbers to get help sent to them 24/7.
CEO of American Motor Products Laird Mooney got his start in the automotive and fleet industry owning Saturn dealerships, now he and his co-owner David Ward offer limo operators discounts and savings on fleet management.
The package includes towing up to 100 miles, flat tire assistance, refueling, battery jump start, lost key or lock-out assistance, and winching or vehicle extraction. Mooney says of the service: “The best part of the new program is its flexibility. During the one year contract, operators can add, replace or delete vehicles on the program each month as their needs change, and we adjust the invoice accordingly.”
Mooney is also working on a special service program for brakes and an overall gas saving program. And he has plans to create a national service card for limo operators to receive maintenance from service centers nationwide. But Mooney is patient with his new product rollouts.
“A lot of the products we are getting to have been in the background, and some of the pieces we’ve rolled out are part of a larger overall service package we have in mind,” Mooney says. “But the thing we saw in the limo industry was thousands of companies with many vehicles, and it all seemed very fractured. It didn’t look like somebody was doing something on a broad basis.”
To help get the word out, Mooney plans to start a national roadshow to present his products and those of other companies recognized by the NLA. “We plan on hitting about 25 or so cities and we’ll try to time them to coincide with association events, or we’ll host them if they don’t have an association. It will be a [barbeque] lunch and a presentation to let them see the products.”
American Motor Products
Location: San Diego, Calif.
Owners: CEO Laird Mooney, and executive vice president David Ward
Contact: (800) 935-9135