Corporate business is up compared to last year and the
outlook for 2004 is good, according to some members of the
South Jersey Limousine and Greater California Livery
Interviews with seven limousine operators show that
corporate work is up as much as 36% from last year at this
time. Retail work, not counting prom business, is lagging
behind, operators added.
“It has been a great year so far,” said Robert Partovi,
executive vice president/west coast of Empire
International, whose business is corporate based. “No
matter who I speak to, they’re happy with the numbers going
Added Norman Lewis, president of Los Angeles-based First
Class Limousine, another corporate-based operation, “We’re
doing probably about 30% more than we were last year. We
are still down about 10% prior to 9/11, but it’s a great
sign of encouragement that we’re up.”
That message was echoed on the East Coast.
“I was called by another operator to help out on a big job
a few weeks ago [that] called for 12 cars for two days
straight. I was so busy myself, I had to farm out almost
all the work,” said James Moseley, president of James
Limousine Service in Cherry Hill, N.J.
“I managed to find seven cars, but I had to call 12 or 13
operators to get them. When you try to give a subcontractor
a job and they don’t have a car available, you know
everyone is busy,” he added.
The surge in corporate business might be attributed to
corporate executives taking more business trips. Runzheimer
International and the National Business Travel Association
say corporate travel budgets continue to increase from last
“We had some clients that just didn’t do any travel for
awhile [but] now they’re traveling again,” said Don Kensey,
president of Bellmawr, N.J.-based Au Premiere Limousine.
He also said that his biggest problem has been recruiting
quality chauffeurs to keep up with the added business.
Danny Sullivan, president of Los Angeles-based Vogue
Limousine Service added that it is difficult “trying to
find decent drivers who have clean DMV records.”
On the retail side, operators reported that business
is “OK,” with proms being the one bright spot earlier this
“We aren’t seeing much of an improvement over this time
last year [and] we still aren’t back to our pre-September
11th numbers,” said John Maziarz, president of Arrive in
Style Transportation in Yardville, N.J.
“I have seen a real problem in wedding work during this
insurance crisis,” he continued. “I have seen companies
dropping their insurance, putting on regular plates and
doing the work for $30 an hour. People that are cutting
their pricing are really hindering any sort of comeback.”
Added Carmella Gianfrancesco, president of All Over Town
Limo & Formal Wear in Runnemede, N.J., another retail-
oriented operation, “The biggest problem is that customers
have learned that if they call around enough, someone is
going to drop their rate.”
Yet, overall, the outlook for next year is positive, as
corporations are expected to increase their travel spending
by 6.5%, according to the Runzheimer consulting firm.
“We think that by the end of this year, we’ll be back to
where we were before 9/11, and, if the present trends
continue, we’ll probably look to next year as being about
15% higher than where we were before 9/11,” Lewis said.
- Rebecca Christiansen and Neil Weiss