True dedication to the industry is what distinguishes the five individuals who were honored by L&C with industry awards at the recent Atlantic City Limousine & Chauffeur Show Awards Banquet.
Three people were honored with the Operator of the Year awards, one received the Chauffeur of the Year award, and the fifth was recognized for her outstanding contribution to the industry.
Marsha Tortora, owner of Empire Coach in Brooklyn, NY was commended for her untiring efforts to unite the industry and fight for its causes. Tortora has been president of the Limousine Industry Manufacturers Organization (LIMO) for the past year, during which time she took on a number of causes.
The three limousine operators who were named Operators of the Year were: Janet Smith of Allegany Limousine Service in Wiley Ford, WV in the small category (one to 10 vehicles); and Barbara Pastlak of Gem Limousine Service in Edison, NJ in the large category (over 21 vehicles).
Honorable mentions went to Edward Feliciano of Feliciano Limousine Service in Rochester, NH, and Jon Harrer of VIP Prestige Limousine Service in Roswell, GA in the small category. In the medium category, Alan Fisher of London Livery, Ltd. In New Orleans, LA, and Butch Henke of Squire Limousine Inc. in S. San Francisco, CA were honored. And in the large category, Jay Allen of Carey of Dallas/Ft. Worth in Dallas, TX, and Thomas Mulligan and Ted Milos of Metropolitan Limousine, Inc. in Chicago, IL, were honored.
The criteria on which the award winners were qualified included level of professionalism, efficiency, and industry involvement. Recognition should be given to all the people who were nominated, not just the winners. Together they epitomize the highest standards of achievement in the industry in terms of management, customer service, and operations.
L&C contributed plaques and a $1,000 contribution in the names of the Operators of the Year to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
For the first time, Mark Pastore of A Touch of Class/Dav El of San Diego in San Diego, CA, was awarded the Dennis J. Sitta Chauffeur of the Year award. This award was created by Alan Fisher of London Livery to honor one of his chauffeurs who exemplified the professional attitudes sought after by employers. Pastore received a plaque provided by L&C and a $1,000 contribution to charity in his name provided by London Livery. Honorable mentions went to Lionel Jacquet of Southwest Carriage Limousine Service in Houston, TX, and Thomas Voss, Sr. of McGann’s Executive Limousine Service in South Bend, IN.
Dedicated to the Industry
Marsha Tortora has worked diligently this past year as president of LIMO. In 1992, LIMO and Tortora strived to bridge the gap between coachbuilders and operators, worked to obliterate unsafe limousines form the road, and worked with Ford and GM to clear up manufacturing issues.
One industry issue Tortora has focused her attentions on is the Gas Guzzler Tax. This tax forces operators to pay approximately $2,000 extra for every new limousine bought. Due to the burden this puts on operators, especially the smaller operator, Tortora has been working with members of Congress to try to repeal this tax.
“Right now we are looking to piggyback on a new tax bill that will be introduced this spring. Operators should be writing to their Senators and Congress people about this issue. It should be approached from the standpoint that it is the small operator who is being hurt, not big business,” she explains.
In an effort to keep limousines that do not comply to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards off the road, Tortora spearheaded a campaign to pass statewide legislation that would make these vehicles illegal. She has been working with Dan Feldman, a State Assemblyman from Brooklyn, on this issue.
Tortora is also proud of the fact that she has been able to bring the coachbuilders, Ford, and Cadillac together. “Many of the coachbuilders were getting lost when it came to doing the paperwork to certify emissions for the EPA. We were able to get help from Ford and GM,” she adds. “LIMO is now recognized as the hub of legitimate coachbuilders by way of their QVM and Master Coachbuilder Programs.”
Janet Smith, Allegany Limousines (Wiley Ford, WV)
Years in Business: 5
Vehicle Fleet: 3 limousines, 3 vans
Staff: 4 chauffeurs, 2 office personnel
Keys to Success: “Having a positive attitude and truly enjoying what you do helps everyone. I think these two thins are what have really made my company successful. Also, I have made it a point to join a lot of charitable organizations. I believe it is necessary to give back to one’s community.”
Most Significant Accomplishment: “My most significant accomplishment has been meeting people. Many local business people have acted as mentors to me—they have been supportive of my company. Additionally, I consider receiving the Operator of the Year award to be the icing on the cake.”
Greg Casteel, Prestige Limousines (Portland, OR)
Years in Business: 14
Vehicle Fleet: 7 stretches, 2 sedans, 1 van, 1 Rolls Royce, 1 1958 Bentley
Staff: 20 chauffeurs, 4 office staff, 2 maintenance personnel
Keys to Success: “I believe our showroom concept and networking have brought us our success—plus, we invest a lot of time in chauffeur training. You really have to desire to put out a quality product. Also, we truly believe in customer following up—sending out thank yous, getting their opinions, etc.
Most Significant Accomplishment: “I feel that my biggest single accomplishment is winning the L&C Operator of the Year award. I have made significant accomplishments by working on boards to help promote Oregon as a tourist destination. I have been able to work with others to promote our wine country, start ecological tours, and build a new convention center. Being recently elected to the NLA board of directors and receiving other awards such as from the Portland Chamber of Commerce, have also had their rewards.
Barbara Pastelak, Gem Limousine Service, Inc. (Edison, NJ)
Years in Business: 17
Vehicle Fleet: 20 stretches, 20 office personnel, 10 maintenance personnel.
Keys to Success: By being fair with my employees and having an open ear to all f their problems, I know I can trust they are out there representing my company as if it were their own. It is also important to be equally fair and honest with your customers. We all know that the customer wants service. I am happy that I can deliver that to them. Every person who works here is a link in the chain to having happy customers. I talk to each one of my employees and try to stress the importance of good service. There are three things that make for a successful livery operation—the chauffeur, vehicle and customer. All three of these elements are equally as important.
Most Significant Accomplishment: Winning the L&C Operator of the Year award meant I was also receiving the respect form my peers and employees. That is what I work so hard for. Also being the vice-president of the New Jersey limousine association and being a member of the NLA has helped me to develop my company and become successful.
Marsha Tortora, recent past president of LIMO and owner of Empire Coach in Brooklyn, NY, was awarded the Industry Achievement award by Scott Fletcher, publisher of L&C.