Virginia Operator And Carey End Franchise Venture

Posted on August 3, 2011

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Virginia motorcoach and limousine operator Stephen W. Story has developed a strong record of service, safety, and transportation diversity.
Virginia motorcoach and limousine operator Stephen W. Story has developed a strong record of service, safety, and transportation diversity.

RICHMOND, Va. — A 10-year franchise agreement between Carey International and Carey Transportation based in Richmond, Va., will expire Sept. 1 after the companies determined their business models are not as compatible as before.

Carey Transportation, a luxury chauffeured vehicle service, and James River Bus Lines, a charter and tour company, are run by operator and CEO Stephen Story. The chauffeured operation will officially be renamed James River Transportation as of Sept. 1.

Diverging strategies

The decision to discontinue the franchise was a mutual one and an amicable parting of ways, Story told LCT on Wednesday. During the decade-long franchise, it became apparent to both companies that their business models were evolving in different directions, he said.

“Carey always has been a high-volume, high-quality service based on airport transfers,” Story said. “It is primarily a Town Car and sedan type of arrangement. We diversified many years ago, and part of that was including vehicles other than [sedans] and motorcoaches.”

James River’s Carey franchise spanned the most populated region of Virginia outside of the Washington, D.C. area. That service region includes the capital city of Richmond and eastward across the state’s tidal and coastal plains that encompass the cities of Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Virginia Beach.

During the last decade, James River Transportation’s business model broadened into more diverse levels of service, fleet vehicles, and pricing tiers for all types of clients. Those clients now include universities and college transit services, airport service contracts, meeting and events services, contract transportation management, and daily commuter service for private company employees, in addition to its traditional niches of charters, tours, airport transfers, and weddings. One of the company’s largest clients is Capital One which contracts with James River for multiple daily round trips to transport employees along Interstate 95 between work centers in Richmond and McLean, Va., to the north.

Washington, D.C.-based Carey International will not renew its franchise with any other operators in the area but instead rely on selected affiliates, Story said. Generally, when a major chauffeured transportation network separates from a franchisee, the circumstances tend to be less than amiable, resulting in the network no longer doing business with the former franchisee, Story said. But James River’s separation differs from the norm, and while it may not be used as an affiliate, Story anticipates that Carey will tap James River Bus Lines for meetings, conventions, and special events related transportation, he said. [Story also mentioned that Carey’s CEO, Gary Kessler, is originally from the Richmond area].

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