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A Lay Off Was an Unexpected Blessing for Former GM Employee

Posted on January 1, 2006 by Wayne Blanchard, staff writer

Colonial Livery Inc. (Concord, Mass.)

Owner: Michael Fitzpatrick

Years In Business: 20

Fleet Size: 6 (5 Sedans, one 15-Passenger Van)

Chauffeurs: 10

Office Staff: 1

Back in the 1980s, Michael Fitzpatrick was jobless for the first time after being laid off form the General Motors assembly plant in Framingham, Mass., where he worked for over nine years. “I was without an income and I needed to work, so I took a job as a cab driver,” he says. The company, back then, was Colonial Taxi in Concord, Mass.

A short time later, Fitzpatrick was recalled to the plant, but it wasn’t the same for him. “I realized that I enjoyed the openness of driving, meeting new people and not standing in the same spot day after day.

It wasn’t long before the call of the livery industry began getting stronger. The owner of Colonial wanted to retire and sell the business, so Fitzpatrick decided to take a chance. “I re-mortgaged my home and put everything on the line to purchase the company,” he says.

Soon after, Fitzpatrick contemplated changing Colonial into a black car sedan service rather than a taxi company. Shortly after this, a frightening incident with taxi passengers made his contemplation a reality.

"I picked up three men in front of a local pharmacy who wanted to go to Boston." he re­calls. "I started getting nervous because they were acting strange and they kept changing destina­tions. They finally decided on Watertown, so I pulled into a po­lice station and said I had to get directions. Then, one of the men told the others to 'pay the man' and they quickly got out and left," he recounts.

That was the catalyst need­ed for Fitzpatrick to get into the executive sedan service, and he renamed his company Colonial Livery. "It made sense all the way around," he says. "I believe there's more money in executive car service than in taxis, and the safety element speaks for itself."

Fitzpatrick, a firm believer in working smarter instead of working harder, says operators can arrange runs so fewer vehi­cles arc needed — a concept he conceived clue to 9/11. Colo­nial had nine vehicles prior to 9/11, but was forced to down size during the industry-wide slowdown that ensued. Now that revenue has recovered lo pre-9/11 totals,

Fitzpatrick still contin­ues to run six vehicles.

His secret to being more ef­ficient is proper time manage­ment. "Working smarter is merely a matter of scheduling runs so that one car can be used for several trips," he says. "If you have multiple runs in a specific area, and the times vary, then one ear should be able to handle them."

However, lie says, you need to have enough time between runs for the car to be cleaned, restocked and refueled, as well as get to the next location.

Most of Colonial's clients are repeat customers, and the company averages 10 to 15 runs daily, which is impressive considering Concord's population is about 16,000. Fitzpatrick attributes his company's success to his personnel and clients. "My staff is hard-working and treats our clients well, and we have a great group of clients."

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