Operations

Two Longtime Southern California Operations Combine, Rebrand

Posted on January 13, 2016 by - Also by this author - About the author

HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. — Best Chauffeured Worldwide closed a deal Nov. 14, 2015 to acquire its “tough competitor” of 20 years, VIP Limousines & Coaches of Santa Ana, the companies announced this week.

With a combined fleet of 140 vehicles, the newly branded Best-VIP Chauffeured Worldwide (www.best-VIP.com) brings together Orange County’s two largest limousine fleets and emerges as the largest limousine fleet operation between Long Beach in nearby Los Angeles County south through San Diego County.

An Ideal Deal

The CEO and primary owner of the new company, Robert Vaughan, told LCT the two companies had been tough competitors and occasional local affiliates for two decades. One reason the two companies were sharp competitors was due in large part to their client and fleet make-up, with Best being 90% corporate, group and hotel-oriented, and only 10% retail/leisure, with VIP’s client split at 80% / 20%.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Vaughan labeled it as an asset sale through which Best gained VIP’s 65 vehicle fleets. The new company estimates $20 million-plus in annual revenues from a fleet that includes all chauffeured vehicle types, ranging from sedans to motorcoaches. All employees remain.

VIP’s former owner and CEO Roger Webb will stay on as a consultant for two years to help with the transition before retiring, Vaughan said. The family-owned companies both evolved as father-son run teams. VIP founder Earl Webb retired in November 2015. He started VIP in 1985 in Santa Ana and Best was founded in 1995 in Huntington Beach.

“VIP has a great team coming over with the company, and the owner, Roger Webb, is staying on for two years to ensure a seamless transition before he retires,” Vaughan said in a press release issued Jan. 12. “We’re taking the best of both companies and implementing fresh processes and procedures, and we’re looking forward to combining into one location next year. We’re very energized about it.”

Vaughan elaborated to LCT that he had been interested in eventually acquiring VIP. When a pending sale between VIP and another company fell through, Webb’s broker approached Vaughan about the acquisition idea. “He gave me the opportunity to partner with him and take over,” he said. The deal was brokered by Kevin Guth, managing partner for M&A with Proteus Capital Group.

Among the first major changes to both operations will be a move by June to a new headquarters and fleet facility in Santa Ana. Vaughan has signed a lease starting April 1 on a 2.8 acre tract with a 14,000-square-foot building that previously housed a moving van operation. All vehicles and the 215 employees from both companies, including about 140 chauffeurs and drivers, will be based there. Until then, the company will operate out of VIP facilities in Santa Ana and Best's in Huntington Beach.

Fleet Moves

A second major company plan is to eventually convert about 20 of its cutaway min-buses to Grech Motors models. Best, which already runs 35-passenger Grech buses, plans to transition out of its mix of Turtle Top, Krystal and Ameritrans mini--buses.

Vaughan told LCT that Best-VIP is partnering with Riverside-based Grech Motors to develop the coachbuilder’s first line of buses built on the Dodge 4500 and 5500 chassis, which will yield 15-passenger and 24-passenger cutaway luxury models. Best-VIP plans to keep its combined fleet of 18 Setra and Van Hool motorcoach models.

The company’s leading sedan model is the Lincoln MKS, with its sedan fleet rounded out with Cadillac XTS sedans, Lincoln MKT Town Cars and Mercedes-Benz sedans. All of VIP’s Lincoln Town Car sedans acquired in the sale will be replaced by Lincoln MKS sedans, Vaughan said.

Local Pillars

Best Chauffeured Worldwide started as a one-vehicle, weekend limousine service, and grew into a company that accumulated a client roster that includes Fortune 500 companies and VIP celebrities. During its 30 years of business, VIP Limousine & Coaches worked with high profile clients including Broadcom, the Anaheim Ducks, and Montage Resort.

“What’s made us both very successful is our commitment to service,” Vaughan said in the release. “We provide high-end vehicles with professional chauffeurs, and strong backbone support within our office structure. Best and VIP have been able to compete in the market with one another, and now that we’re moving forward as one we’ll continue to provide elevated service and premium transportation on a larger scale.”

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