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Celebrity Worldwide CEO Dennis Adams has stocked up on Lincoln Town Cars and a few MKZ Hybrids as he waits to see the fleet direction of the limousine industry.
MALVERN, Penn. — The first thing that strikes you about the countryside surrounding Celebrity Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation is its unlikelihood as a home to a major limousine operation. On the day we visited, the rolling hills in the Main Line region about 30 miles northwest of downtown Philadelphia were in full fall-colored bloom amid mansion-esque colonial homes tucked on all sides by green laws and thick trees. It’s the type of rustic, scenic place you instinctively associate with hearth-warming images of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
Homes average about $660,000 in the region, considered a historical enclave that consists of several small towns that follow the former main line of the Pennsylvania Railroad. It parallels U.S. Route 30, a road first built in 1792 as part of the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike and is designated as a portion of the "Lincoln Highway" when that transcontinental highway system was established in 1913, according to Wikipedia. The rail line, from which the area got its name, was central to creating the Main Line communities which in the 19th century became home to many sprawling country estates built by Philadelphia's wealthiest families, Wikipedia reports.
While many limousine companies are housed in very practical industrial and commercial parks, for Celebrity owner and founder Dennis Adams, the semi-rural location makes perfect sense, as it lies in the heart of his client base. Celebrity, founded in 1991, occupies two immaculate buildings on a sloped lot, where all vehicles are housed and maintained and employees run the 50-plus vehicle operation connected to a global affiliate network. When construction work on a nearby suburban turnpike interchange is finished in Fall 2012, the faster access will save Celebrity about 20-30 minutes on most airport runs.
On this day, Adams was in an optimistic mood, reflecting the ruddy, cool, sunny fall afternoon; his company was handling 100 client runs that weekday, about 30 more than on an average weekday and far more than the 30 runs Celebrity averaged per day during the depths of the Great Recession. Adams pointed out that while the economy may be slow, success in luxury transportation all depends on the type of clients being served and how well they are doing; in his case, pharmaceutical companies and financial firms. Celebrity revenues so far this year are up 16% compared to 2010, while its rates are about 10% higher than the competitive average for area chauffeured transportation companies. Adams is a strong believer in maintaining solid price levels while delivering good value.
Adams took me and LCT assistant editor Michael Campos on a walk-n-talk tour that demonstrates how Celebrity in many ways captures the state and direction of the chauffeured transportation industry: