Windy City Limousine & Bus sent vehicles and hand-picked chauffeurs to Iowa to provide ground transportation for China’s Vice President.
[UPDATED WITH ADDITIONS, 3/2/12, 1:15 p.m. PT]
CHICAGO — Chicago’s Windy City Limousine & Bus had just finished handling its biggest event ever — the Super Bowl in Indianapolis — when it received a surprising request: to handle ground transportation and logistics for a high-ranking Chinese politician who was visiting Iowa, more than 300 miles away.
The client: Xi Jinping, Vice President of the People’s Republic of China and presumptive heir to the Chinese presidency. The trip’s purpose was a combination of diplomatic missions and a visit to his former residence in Iowa. The delegation made a commitment to purchase $4.31 billion worth of U.S. soybeans at the World Food Prize Center in Des Moines.
Windy City accepted the week-long event and sent about 17 vehicles, mostly vans and SUVs, to Iowa, along with chauffeurs to drive several rented trucks that were used for storage. The company also sent a manager, Mike Gulo, to oversee the program onsite. The delegation requested an additional 14 vehicles from 2012 LCT Operator of the Year Majestic Limousine of Des Moines, Iowa, who also rented moving trucks for the delegation’s luggage.
Majestic’s crew cleaned the trucks’ interiors and wiped down the walls to present the vehicles with the same standards of cleanliness as their fleet vehicles. The vehicle entourage also included an armored car that the delegation flew in from New York.
“It was fun, it was interesting, and it was different,” said Windy City CEO George Jacobs. “There were constant changes and security requirements and it was pretty crazy. It was a huge event for us and it lasted for about a week.”
Majestic Limousine committed 14 vehicles, about two-thirds of its fleet, to service the trip.
Scott Woodruff, president and CEO of Majestic Limousine, also said his team found the event fun and very interesting. “There were some challenges, like not knowing the daily plans ahead of time and doing a lot of sitting around until our guys were directed where to go, but I’m very happy with the turnout andthe delegation was very impressed by our team.”
In addition to logistical challenges, Woodruff said there was a huge language barrier, but everybody was patient and figured things out.
The relationship between Windy City Limousine & Bus and China started in January 2011 when the Vice Premier of China visited Chicago. “We were recommended by the Convention Bureau as the company who had all the different kinds of equipment they needed in one place,” Jacobs said. “This year, the lady who does the bookings for the Chinese consulate, Su Ling, asked us to do the trip in Iowa because she fell in love with us and didn’t want to go to another company.”
Windy City’s hand-picked chauffeurs had to go through an intense background and security check process to gain clearance for this event. The same went for the 16 chauffeurs provided by Majestic.
“I’m proud of all the chauffeurs and the team that helped make this event a success, and our clients were very happy with the turnout,” Jacobs said.
— Michael Campos, LCT associate editor