First Class Chauffeurs is the only company in Puerto Rico to have a Rolls Royce Phantom in its fleet.
How did you get into the industry? What did you do before?
I worked as an insurance broker and salesman. In 1996, I wanted to find a way to make money without interfering with my studies, so I bought a taxi cab with some money I got after selling a little family business. I got my first corporate account with Colgate Palmolive. I sold the taxi and started offering services in a black 1998 Lincoln Town Car. We grew from two corporate accounts to eight, including [biotechnology giant] Amgen.
What are some of your biggest achievements?
In 2004, we saw the need for the combination of chauffeured service and executive protection, so we merged with one of Puerto Rico’s main security companies and bought our competition. This allowed us to add a “Road Shows and Events” division to our services, and we have handled events for The Rolling Stones, Celine Dion, Elton John, Metallica, Santana, and many others. We also handled the complete logistics of ground transportation for the 2010 Latin Billboard Music Awards. We are the in-house ground transportation provider for the St. Regis Bahia Beach resort. We are also the first ones in Puerto Rico to add hybrid vehicles such as the Mercedes-Benz S400 to our fleet and the only ones to have a Rolls Royce Phantom.
What qualities do you look for in a U.S. affiliate?
Reliability, good communication skills, respect for affiliate and client relationships, and the ability to provide excellent service that is always on time.
Robert Rodriguez and Michael Berrios have handled events for music superstars such as Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, Santana, and many others.
What is unique about chauffeured services in your region?
Chauffeurs need to be bilingual and authorized by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. They need to educate clients about the culture and know how to carry [on] conversations about current events and political issues. U.S. citizens do not need a passport to travel to Puerto Rico, and our currency is the U.S. dollar.
What is your biggest business challenge?
Dealing with illegal operators, trying to keep a great working atmosphere between the chauffeurs and office staff, and selling our services as a tool for clients rather than a luxury commodity.
What are your top-rented vehicles?
SUVs, Mercedes-Benz limo vans, and mini-coaches.
What types of clients do you serve?
Corporations, celebrities, hotels, destination weddings, DMCs.
Why do you think you have been successful?
Because we love what we do. I see this as my hobby, not my work, and we have a great team and great chauffeurs.
What do you love most about the business?
I get to sell Puerto Rico as a top destination through our services.
We just added the new Bentley Mulsanne to our fleet, and right now we are planning the logistics of the next two five-star hotels that will be opening at the end of the year.
Fast Facts about First Class Chauffeurs
Location: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Founded: September 1996
Main service region: Puerto Rico
Types of vehicles: Rolls Royce Phantom, Bentley Mulsanne, Porsche Panamera, Mercedes Benz Hybrid S-400, Audi A-8, 14 SUVs (Navigators,Suburbans & Escalades) Lincoln Town Cars, limo vans, executive vans and mini-buses.
Fleet size: 31
Annual revenues: $2.1 million
Owners: Robert Rodriguez & Michael Berrios
Information: (787) 296-LIMO (5466)