Operators Report Upswing in Corporate Business

Posted on October 5, 2003 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

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 associations.

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 up.”

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 year.

“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 season.

“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

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