People

Operators of the Year Award Provides Exposure Marketing Opportunities

Posted on December 1, 1997 by Mark Becker, staff editor

The Limousine & Chauffeured Transportation Operator of the Year Award is the industry’s most prestigious award and is presented annually at the national LCT Show. It provides many business opportunities for winners and finalists.

The award was initiated in 1990. Stephen Spencer of London Town Cars in Long Island, NY, was the inaugural winner.

In 1991 the format changed. Categories were created based on fleet size. Winners were named in a small fleet category (1 to 10 vehicles) medium fleet category (11 to 20 vehicles), and large fleet category (over 20 vehicles). Overall there have been 22 LCT Operators of the Year. They are:

1990                                                                    

Stephen Spencer, London Town Cars (Long Island, NY)                                                                                     

1991

SMALL:  Sheila Lambie, Lambie's Luxury Limousines (Kenosha, WI)

MEDIUM: Randy Bring, Park Avenue Limousine (Delray Beach, FL)                                                   

LARGE: John Gouveia (left), County Limousine (White Plaines, NY)

1992

SMALL: Denny Walker, Exclusive, Inc. (Honolulu, HI)    

MEDIUM: Gene Pierpoint, Arizona Limousine (Phoenix, AZ)

LARGE: Harold Berkman, Music Express (New York Los Angeles)

1993

SMALL: Janet Smith, Allegany Limousines (Wiley Ford, WV)

MEDIUM:  Greg Casteel, Prestige Limousines (  Portland, OR)

LARGE: Barbara Pastelak, Gem Limousine (Edison, NJ)

1994

SMALL: Mark Zimmer, Lakeshore Coaches (Howards Grove, WI )

MEDIUM: Alan and Marvin Fisher, London Livery, Ltd. (Atlanta and New Orleans)

LARGE: Larry Dunn, Jhonson-Williams/Carey Limousine (Minneapolis, MN)

1995

SMALL: Jon Harrer, VIP Limousine (Roswell, GA)

MEDIUM: Phil Khalil, Action Limousines (Houston, TX)

LARGE: Butch Henke, Squire Limousine (San Francisco, CA)

1996

SMALL: Robert Ayers, Dreamkeepers Limousine (Ithaca, MI)

MEDIUM: Darryl and Karen Norman, Riches and Roses Limousine (Charlotte, NC)

LARGE: George Jacobs, American Limousine (Burr Ridge, IL)

1997

SMALL: Hatem Elnahas, Limo Express (Alexandria, VA)

MEDIUM: Jim Moseley, James Limousine Service (Cherry Hill, NJ)

LARGE: David Seelinger, Empire International (Norwood, NJ)

 

L

CT revisited many of the past winners and finalists and asked how the award has affected their business in terms of revenues, volume, and employee relations.

John Gouveia, 1991 winner-large category:

“We use the award in a lot of our advertisements. When prospective clients call, they frequently mention the award. It’s helped drive a lot of our advertising. I still have the plaque and other related items hanging in our reception area. We are still getting mileage our of it after all these years. Winning the award has also had a positive affect on the company internally. Obviously, things have leveled off since we own in 1991, but for a year or two after, morale definitely soared to another level. Our staff was flying high.”

Harold Berkman, 1992 winner-large category:

“We saw a 15 percent increase in revenue the year after we won the award. However, that is not the real benefit the award brought to our company. We were able to market that we were the best limousine business in the country, which significantly added to our bottom line. From an employee standpoint, it really brings the company together. It has a trickle-down affect.

Everyone’s performance is enhanced, which has a direct impact on the service you provide to the customer.”

Greg Casteel, 1993 winner-medium category:

“The impact of the award on my staff was tremendous. Several staff members were featured in T.V. news stories after we won the award. All of the positive energy spilled over to the new employees. The tone was set---if you want work for Prestige, you have to be the best.

“In many ways winning the award was a turning point of the company. We received six months of steady publicity because of the award and it has been the biggest springboard in the company’s history. It put us over the top psychologically and we’ve never looked back.

“We also won other business awards because of the LCT Operator of the Year Award, including Oregon’s Business Marketer of the Year (past winners include Nike, Portland Trailblazers, Freightliner, and U.S. Bank).

The following year we were one of 164 companies named by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Nation’s Business Magazine as a Blue Chip Enterprise award winner.

“To this day, friends introduce me to prospective clients as ‘America’s Best Limousine Operator’ at business and social events. Business volume has increased threefold in the five years since we won the award. As much as I would like to think we’re that good, I know that LCT has played a big roll in my company’s success.”

Jon Harrer, 1995 winner—small category:

“We worked very hard for many years to come back from a very adverse situation. We almost went bankrupt because of a bad partner. After working several years to get things back on track, winning the award was more like a validation of what we had to go through to get to a superior level of service again. It really inspired the company and created a sense of camaraderie among the employees. Our goal has always been to provide the best quality service. I am a firm believer that the revenue and volume will come if you deliver the best quality service. It was great to be recognized for our efforts.”

Darryl and Karen Norman, 1996 winner—medium category:

“After being named Operator of the Year in 1996 we had 11 vehicles. Since then our fleet has grown to 30 vehicles. Also, revenues have increased dramatically and our staff has doubled. Not only has our growth been unbelievable, but the increased revenue has allowed us to maintain a low debt ratio and that is crucial. The economy is so good right now, but we want to maintain control of this growth.

“The award has also given us a lot of direction because it has allowed us to talk with many established operators across the country. We’ve built many relationships with people in the industry which is very important. Karen and I have been able to share information with many significant industry players. We’ve visited several operators, seen them in action, and have learned a lot.

“Our staff knows we have to set a new standard. We now have to lead by example. They have such pride in what they are doing. Even though it has been a few years since we won the award, our staff still possesses the same intensity. Additionally, we’re advertising that we are an LCT Operator of the Year. The award also paved the way for my appointment to the National Limousine Association (NLA) Board of Directors.”

Jim Moseley, 1997 winner—medium category:

“Our company has seen a 35 percent increase in sales since we won the award and that’s only from our existing customers reacting to the recognition. Further, we’ve seen this increase with minimal advertising. After this thrust from our existing customers, I haven’t even been able to establish a direct mail campaign or advertise externally other than in the Yellow Pages and on our Web site because we’ve been so busy.

“An international affiliation has also recruited us because of the award. Additionally, there is a greater sense of pride internally. More of an effort is made to ensure perfect service because we now have established a reputation. We also have a reprint of the LCT Operator of the Year article in every limousine and sedan, which also creates a standard we have to live by.”

Hatem Elnahas, 1997 winner-small category: “Winning the award has actually provided us with another challenge. When we tell our clients that we are LCT’s Operator of the Year, we must maintain the highest level of service at all times. We have to constantly demonstrate why we are the best or winning the award doesn’t mean a thing.

“The award has also impacted our volume and revenue as we have seen a 5 percent increase in volume and a $35,000 increase in revenue since we won the award. Additionally, employee morale has really increased. We all find ourselves giving that extra efforts as the LCT Operator of the Year.”

Don and Michelle Wilson, co-owners of VIP Limousine in Macomb, MI; finalists the past four years—medium category:

“Even though we haven’t won the award, the events leading up to the award have had a very positive impact on our company. It has been so exciting for our entire company to be recognized as a finalist for the most prestigious award the industry has to offer. The publicity leading up to the LCT Show has had a tremendous positive affect on our staff and that really translates to our bottom line.

When we are at the show and we see our names everywhere, it truly makes you want to run the best possible business because you have set a standard for yourself. The award has had a lot to do with that type of attitude.”

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