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NEW ORLEANS — When Jack Cali, newly arrived from New Orleans, was selling his Drivesoft in-car computer system to audio stores around Los Angeles, he didn’t know where Drivesoft could take him.
After car customization specialist Mike Martin, also known as “Mad Mike,” and shop manager “Q” began installing the system in the shop where he worked, West Coast Customs, the product took off. Cali and Drivesoft have appeared in several magazine covers, at least 50 articles and product features, and episodes of the popular MTV show, “Pimp My Ride,” which featured Cali, Mad Mike, and Q in recurring roles.
Drivesoft LLC provides the Drivesoft Digital Video Audio System (DVAS), a Windows XP-based computer that controls audio, video, Windows-based applications; and has up to 500 GB of storage memory. The Driver Friendly Software (DFS) that comes with the DVAS is touch-screen multi-media software that allows passengers to play AM/FM/XM radio, MP3s, CDs, DVDs, video, pictures, and TV. Corporate clients also can use it as a mobile office PC.
A Solution for Limos
After Drivesoft was featured on TV in 2003, Cali began receiving calls, including those from chauffeured transportation operators who “liked the idea of all that storage, media, music, and videos all wrapped in one little case,” Cali says.
Eventually, two major coach builders who had seen the show contacted him. He began providing Drivesoft for installation into luxury vehicles as they were being built, instead of being an aftermarket-only product.
The limousine industry, however, may know Cali and the Drivesoft product more for its switching system. “Around mid-2006, there was a particular coach builder that was having problems with their switching system,” Cali says. “They were buying their electric controller system from another company, and they were having nightmares with it.”
Cali set out to provide a solution, taking a year to develop a prototype of the limousine switching system that could be integrated with the DFS software. The result is Drivesoft Limousine Control Software (LCS) and Digital Limousine Switcher (DLS), which control the lighting and air conditioning in the vehicles.
“We worked with a few different limousine companies for ideas that they had and listened to what they said they were having troubles with, with past switchers,” Cali says. “We fixed all the problems they didn’t like and added some of the new things they wanted.”
The reception was positive at the 2007 International LCT Show in Las Vegas, where it was revealed. “People were just excited, saying, we want to incorporate your limousine switcher and your audio system into the cars as we build them,” Cali says.
Drivesoft works with several coachbuilders to integrate the product into new vehicles, some exclusively using Drivesoft as their only switching system. However, there are operators who install it as an upgrade to their video and audio systems, and in these cases, Drivesoft ships out the product and sometimes provides installation, sending a company installer. Cali estimates this accounts for 30% of all his limousine products sold.