Walker serves his wedding market niche with a fleet of 10 all-white stretch Town Car limousines that generate $2 million in annual revenues.
WHAT HE DID BEFORE: CEO W. Denny Walker worked for a Japanese tour wholesaler in Honolulu providing land operations for tour groups.
WHY HE GOT INTO THE BUSINESS: “There was a strong demand for limousine service,” Walker says. His father was a missionary in Japan for about 17 years before moving the family to Hawaii in 1970. Travel from Japan to Hawaii was starting to take off during this period, and the Walkers discovered demand for their skill with the Japanese language. “My father was approached to perform some weddings for Japanese couples travelling to Hawaii, and we put together the services requested into a business. We required good limousine transportation for the wedding services, and it seemed like a fun thing to do at the time. We have served over 163,000 weddings.”
START-UP COSTS AND METHODS: “We put together about $16,000 by selling our private cars and maxing out our credit cards,” Walker says. Because there were no other options at the time, Exclusive developed its own scheduling software in the early 1980s and has continued to improve it over the years.
BEST MARKETING STRATEGY: Exclusive’s business depends on the relationships it has built with wedding and travel companies over many years. “We lean heavily on our reputation,” Walker says. “It has worked best for us to stay in our niche wedding market, staying away from the traditional limousine business of airport runs, proms, party charters, etc.”
BIGGEST MISTAKE: Expanding the business by getting into new ventures — a retail florist and restaurant — and not recognizing the right time to get out.
Denny Walker (far right) and his chauffeur team wear traditional Hawaiian leis at the the Ko Olina Marina.
BIGGEST SUCCESS: Attracting and keeping good employees. “They have allowed us the longevity and ability to maintain some sanity on the roller coaster ride of running a small business,” Walker says.
UNIQUE APPROACHES TO CUSTOMER SERVICE: Exclusive keeps it simple. Its service policy is: “We will do everything possible to make our customers happy, sometimes to the extreme.”
ADVICE TO OPERATORS: Exceed the expectations of your customers and make sure you price correctly to cover your true costs. Focus on the service you provide, not the dollars. You must have happy employees if you want happy customers.
FUTURE PLANS: “Expanding the wedding market we service as the travel population from different countries grows, while staying in our niche of small weddings.”
Fast Facts about Exclusive Incorporated
Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Owner: W. Denny Walker, CEO
Main Service Region: Island of Oahu
Types of Vehicles: 70-inch stretch Town Car limousines
Fleet size: 10
Annual revenues: $2 million
Information: (808) 947-6358