Operations

Two Tampa Area Limo Companies Merge

Posted on July 22, 2009 by LCT Staff - Also by this author - About the author

TAMPA, FL — Ambassador Limousine of Tampa has bought the assets and real estate of Julie's Limousine in a deal completed on July 13.

Julie’s Limousine was operated for two decades by the late Julie Herring, a board director of the National Limousine Association who died on May 16, 2008 at age 45 after a battle with cancer. She was posthumously given the NLA 2009 Humanitarian Award at the International LCT Show in January.

Ken Lucci, president of Ambassador Limousine, is the sole owner and president of both companies. Julie's Limousine will retain its name but will be known as "Julie's Limousine — An ALS Company." Ambassador will continue doing business under its name.

The combined Ambassador-Julie's venture projects $2 million-plus in annual sales this year, said Tom Mazza, a national chauffeured transportation consultant and educator who owns Philadelphia-based Tom Mazza Consulting. Mazza, also a former senior editor at LCT Magazine, brought the two companies to the bargaining table and arranged the deal which had been in the works since February. Herring had been a member of Mazza’s “Limousine Success Group” for five years.

The new company will operate from the former Julie's location on Route 19 in Clearwater, located across the bay from Tampa. The two-acre site includes a 12,000 square foot building that Herring had acquired in 2006.

The clientele the new company will likely split about 60/40 corporate/retail, reflecting the broad national corporate network that Herring had developed and the strong local wedding and retail niche of Ambassador, Mazza said.

Herring’s company had been run by her father, Tom Herring, since her death.

"Tommy brought Ken to the table and told me this was the RIGHT guy to buy Julie's,” Herring said in a statement. “He did not waste time with other candidates. He found the right person and we are very pleased with the outcome."

Mazza explained that he took care not to list the company for sale. “I don’t think you can hang a for-sale sign on a company,” Mazza said. “It becomes weakened if people know it’s for sale. We looked at players to see who made the most sense to partner with.” Instead of finding a new operator, Mazza said he sought out Lucci and proposed a deal.

Before the deal, Julie’s Limousine and Ambassador each had about 18 vehicles, Mazza said. The ideal fleet size for that market is about 25 vehicles, so Ambassador is in the process of selling off the extra vehicles. Mazza said the final fleet mix will consist of about 10 sedans, five mini-coaches, five traditional stretches, and four large stretches, including Hummers and Ford Expeditions.

According to an obituary in the July 2008 issue of LCT Magazine, Julie Herring started Julie’s Limousine and Coachworks in 1986 with a single six-passenger limousine she bought at an auction. The plan was to make a few extra dollars by doing weekend charters and supplement her income as a bank credit officer. Instead, she spent the next decade driving at night and booking trips during the day. Herring promoted her company with a regular spot on morning radio show as “Julie the Limo Driver.” The ensuing publicity and contests to win limo trips helped Herring grow her company and eventually attract a corporate clientele by building a national affiliate network.

The business is still strong with a respectable brand despite a drop-off in activity after her death, Mazza said. “There is value in Julie’s brand because of 20 years of good will.”

Source: Martin Romjue, LCT Magazine

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