People

1. Carey New York

Posted on July 1, 2000 by LCT Staff - Also by this author

Established: 1921

Fleet: 467 vehicles (60 limousines, 383 sedans, 10 vans, 14 buses)

Staff: 617 chauffeurs (240 employees, 377 independent operators), 450 office staff

Management: Ray Dorr, GM Edward Martinez, Sr. VP Michael Hemlock, Exec. VP Alfred Hemlock, GM Christopher Bockus, Sr. VP

For the third year in a row, Carey New York has attained the premier position of having the largest livery fleet in the United States. This massive operation commands an army of 617 chauffeurs, working out of three combined offices with overlapping territories in the greater New York City area—Manhattan International, Westchester and Stamford (Connecticut). Carey plans to centralize these operations into one 44,000-square-foot building, with two stories added to accommodate all of the divisions.

Managing a huge fleet is not the only logistical challenge. Working in New York is not exactly a walk in Central Park. Cars are not allowed to line up in front of city buildings to wait for clients—even a stationary, idling vehicle can be ticketed for a moving violation—and driving around the block in snarled traffic can result in a missed pick up. The timing and communications required to meet up with customers are at times worthy of a field general’s battle plans. “The toughest thing to deal with here is the traffic, especially when dignitaries are in town,” admits GM Ray Dorr, a 45-year veteran of the limousine industry. “It’s a scramble to change schedules. We always have a residual backup ready to go.”

Fortunately, the Nextel radio coverage is excellent in the area, so drivers can keep dispatch quickly updated as to their location. Dorr points out that a number of Carey New York’s chauffeurs already have wireless laptops in their cars, because so many of their Wall Street clients like to obtain stock quotes and use e-mail.

Speaking of Wall Street, the volume of work generated by IPO road shows for venture capital is so great now that Carey New York has a separate road-show department that schedules only VIP chauffeurs. These higher-caliber drivers not only have to pass a number of in-house tests with a grade of 87 percent or better, but also must have customer letters of recommendation on file and be able to work well with dispatch. They also must have good street smarts and know the ins and outs of getting through the airports. Dorr notes that clients really appreciate Carey’s airport meet-and-greet personnel. These valets direct them to their cars and help with baggage claim, and also have access to all the airline clubs and can occasionally obtain free upgrades to first class for their clients.

Doing IPO work can be extremely demanding. These corporate clients insist on vehicles less than two years old that are equipped with cell phones and fax machines. Also, when customers schedule road shows, plans change frequently—“Half the time they don’t know exactly what they’re doing, or how many vehicles they need,” notes Dorr. Despite the headaches for dispatch and drivers, this type of service can mean substantial financial rewards. Dorr says some VIP chauffeurs gross as much as $170K per year. Since they work as independents, their expenses for a car, insurance, contract and in-car equipment can run as high as $40K a year.

Carey New York also has a special events department devoted exclusively to handling tours and large groups, which can require 60 or more cars at a time. This type of work often means taking a multicultural approach. Fortunately, the available pool of chauffeurs is also ethnically diverse, so that, for instance, a Japanese-speaking driver can be provided to a group visiting from Tokyo. “We have an ethnic mix like you wouldn’t believe,” laughs Dorr. “It’s a real smorgasbord.” And dealing with it is all just a New York state of mind.—Steve Temple

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