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California operators Marco and Yvonne Tosti run a full-time limousine business based out of their house while caring for their four children, including 14-year-old Bryan who has autism. Also pictured are twins Sabrina and Sophia, 12, and Sean, 8.
SIDEBAR: Running A Fleet & A Family
An Orange County, Calif., couple share duties of running their chauffeured transportation business while taking care of their 14-year-old autistic child and three other children.
At the age of 18 months, Bryan Tosti was diagnosed with autism. His parents, Marco and Yvonne Tosti, say they are grateful for being in the livery industry and work from home. It allows both parents to help in either child care or taking care of business matters.
The Tostis operate Excel Fleet, Inc. from their home in Fullerton, Calif. Yvonne, vice president of operations, refers to their system for managing their four kids and the business as “tag teaming” in everything they do. In addition to Bryan, the Tostis have twin 12-year-olds and an 8-year-old son.
Juggling kids and limos
Bryan and his siblings attend school each day from 7:20 a.m. to 4 p.m., which gives the Tostis a short break each day. While Marco is not a primary chauffeur for the company, he spends two to three days a week behind the wheel. He also shops for supplies each week while Yvonne handles reservation duties.
On occasion, Bryan will have an outburst while a reservation is being taken, presenting a challenge as both the client on the phone and Bryan need immediate attention. Yvonne says that Bryan recognizes commands such as a finger pointing out of the room to direct him to leave the room as he doesn’t understand when she is on a business call. However, sometimes it is necessary to place a caller on hold to deal with Bryan. That is just a part of life, Yvonne says.
Strong business start
Marco has been in the business for 24 years, with Yvonne gaining life in the limousine business through marriage. Marco bought his first sedan at the age of 19. “It was just something he wanted to do,” Yvonne says. Once he got started, he decided to add a limousine to the fleet. Over the years, the business has grown to a fleet of 10 vehicles, including vans, SUVs, limousines and Lincoln Town Cars. Yvonne says the clients served include an equal mix of business and retail. Marco has plenty of requests from corporate clients for him to personally drive because of his early start-up years with the same clients.
Time at a premium
Bryan requires speech and occupational therapy. Fortunately, Bryan receives many services from state agencies. The programs are government funded the same as schools. The constant care of Bryan and the lack of any help in the office keeps the Tostis busy.
“Let’s just say, it has been a very long time since we have had any kind of a family vacation,” Yvonne says. The closest thing to a vacation for the Tostis is attending the annual International LCT Show in Las Vegas. Yvonne’s parents step in to run the company during the show, but Marco and Yvonne travel with a laptop connected to the Internet and telephone calls forwarded to their cell phones. So it is business as usual for them from their hotel room or convention center hallways. Marco’s parents also come for a visit each year and stay for six weeks to help them out and give them some reprieve. But both say they really never get a complete break.
Hope for Bryan
Yvonne says they hope for a “full and fulfilling life” for Bryan and always hold out hope for improvement. There are many phrases that society has used to label people with autism. Yvonne would like to change some of those words. She deplores the use of the word handicapped when referring to children with autism or other diseases, preferring the term “special needs children.” She dislikes the term “normal” when referring to anyone, as the term is so subjective.