People

The Industry's Most Influential People: Scott Solombrino

Posted on July 1, 2004

“When it comes to certain issues everyone is united” in the limousine industry, says Scott Solombrino.

“Any outside threat that has the potential of impacting the industry becomes a lightning rod for instant unification, which Is why the National Limousine Association has become so successful and so powerful in Washington, D.C.”

With a laugh, Solombrino adds, “The limousine industry is in some ways like a dysfunctional family, where it’s OK for people to kind of kill each other at the dinner table every night. But God help the person who comes to visit who may be critical of anyone in the family!” He adds, “It’s a really tough crowd.”

Solombrino admits this “is a very, very unique business. The limousine industry is a boutique industry that is unique to the travel segment. What makes it so unique is that there aren’t any traded companies.” Therefore, he says, “The limousine business tends to be very competitive.”

It’s a business Solombrino has been in for more than half his life. “I started when I was a freshman in college in 1978 and bought my first limo for $600. I’ve been in the industry for 26 years and I’m only 44.”

He says, “The great part of this business is that you can call someone at midnight and you can probably get them. It’s a seven-day a week, 24-hour a day business. At the end of each day you can see the results of your labor for that day—satisfied customers and happy employees. It’s very evident at the end of the day that everything went well.”

But it’s a difficult business that he likens to a puzzle. “There are a lot of parts to this business to make something work. There are a lot parts to the puzzle to make the customer happy. There are a lot of pieces along the way that lead up to the customer getting the best experience, which leads to a lot of camaraderie in the business.”

He adds, “Every company has to have the same process over and over again. So when you sit with people in the same industry, there’s immediate understanding between you.”

Solombrino believes the limousine industry has recouped since Sept. 11, saying “9/11 really made it difficult. But I think the industry is improving every day. And, I’m really optimistic for 2005. It’s the first time I’ve been really optimistic in three years.”

Being an industry advocate has taken a great deal of Solombrino’s time. “Part of my function the last five years was that if I wasn’t out there advocating the entire industry from the fragmentation and the internal feuds going on—that would prevent the industry from having a unified voice with all the different regulatory people around the country.”

He says, “The biggest downside to my commitment to improving the industry is that I’ve put my company second. I’ve paid a price for that.”

But he notes, “As Ben Franklin said, ‘We must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang separately.’ And I’ve lived by that motto.”

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