COMPANY DEAL: Operators Stuart Rothstein and Wayne Aoraha forge a complementary alliance in business, customer service approaches — and across diverse cultural lines.
CHICAGO — Operator Stuart Rothstein of Smart Cars sees well beyond the business advantages of his latest deal: The Jewish transplant from Brooklyn, N.Y. just cut a deal with an Assyrian Christian immigrant from Iraq.
"We were the perfect match; completely different and completely the same,” said Rothstein, president and CEO of SMART CARS WORLDWIDE. “We think so much alike and yet come from such different backgrounds.”
Rothstein, whose Smart Cars operates 28 vehicles, bought Wayne Aoraha’s ELITE LIMOUSINE, a 10-vehicle company, in a private deal that closed Feb. 1. Aoraha sold off his vehicles, enabling Rothstein to purchase the business assets and customer lists.
The operators met in Boston last year when Elite Limousine won another of several quality and recognition awards from Boston Coach. As friendly competitors in the Chicago market, Rothstein and Aoraha knew of each others' reputations but had never met. After a few meetings, it became evident to both that the possible synergies from a unified effort could mean substantial mutual benefits.
Smart Cars offers the quality and scope of a larger operation while Elite has the intensity and customized attention of a smaller operation, said Rothstein, who is also a board director and treasurer of the National Limousine Association.
“[Aoraha] brings up the quality levels very high by brining personalized focus and attention on customers,” Rothstein said. “He has the verve and energy of a small operator, for whom every small detail is important.”
Rothstein has an economics and finance background with strengths in the areas of long-term strategy and the building of strong corporate identity. Aoraha is a hands-on perfectionist who likes to mix it up with his dispatchers and chauffeurs as much as he likes creating positive experiences and memories for his clients, Rothstein said.
"Wayne has not only enhanced our gross revenues by an additional 25%, his clientele makeup has allowed us to accomplish this with the addition of only marginal variable costs — in other words, without adding additional staff, vehicles or other hard assets,” Rothstein said.
Aoraha said, “With this large of a fleet size behind me and (Rothstein's) superbly qualified set of chauffeurs, we will soon own Chicago. I turned down significant business historically because I did not want to compromise my service levels for volume. Now I can go back and offer both to these large accounts and leverage off of the size and technological support at Smart Cars that were unavailable to me as a smaller operator.”
The operators also complement each other in age and interests. Aoraha, who is in his 40s, feels as comfortable with social networking and search-engine optimization as Rothstein, in his 50s, does with complex pricing algorithms and national affiliate relationships. On weekends, Rothstein likes to play racquetball or spend time with family, while Aoraha heads to late night ad lib performances as a professional percussionist with his previous band, the Bandeleros.
“It has only been three weeks and we are already discovering additional new and exciting venues we can take to increase sales, reduce costs and improve our quality of service,” Rothstein said. “We often discover these gems over Hummus and Baba Ganoush, the universal food of Jews and Arabs. Irrespective of what happens, we have each discovered a great eating partner for life and are enjoying the beauty and differences of our respective cultures.”
Sources: Martin Romjue, LCT editor; SMART CARS WORLDWIDE