Where Are They Now? We Check in With Operator of the Year Winners

Posted on February 1, 2004 by Alisha Gomez, staff editor

Gene Cookenboo, Presidential Limousine, Denver

2000 Large Operator of the Year

Less than a year after winning the Operator of the Year (OOY) award, Presidential Limousine merged with Admiral Limousine. The new company kept the name of Presidential, and Cookenboo took the title of CEO while Michele Rossi of Admiral was named president.

The company’s corporate accounts dropped from 75% of its business to 25% after 9/11. Presidential redirected its efforts to gain more local business such as weddings, dinners and large group moves. The company bought two people movers to give group customers one-stop shopping, and added six SUV’s to promote ski and winter business.

The OOY award gave Presidential name recognition, putting the company’s identity out to the entire limousine industry. “Companies from around the country began to call us and use our services when their clients were traveling in the Denver area,” Cookenboo said. Presidential even got a front-page write up in the Denver Business Journal. The award also was instrumental in giving the company entry to joining the Limousine 20 Group, now the Limousine Success Group, a group of operators who share detailed information on various aspects of their operations with other members.

The company now has 40 vehicles and 13 staff members.


Carolyn Nelson, Belaire Limousine, Bel Air, Md.

2001 Small Operator of the Year

The events of 9/11, occurring several months after Belaire received the OOY award, set business back about three years. But Nelson said her business is recovering and surviving as a successful company.

“All of our clients are precious to us and like family,” she said. “They know that our drivers are consistent and reliable.”

Nelson said the company works very hard on a shoestring budget. With an increase in business expenses, she is diligent in keeping track of spending.

Using the OOY award in flyers, the company’s cards, phonebooks and any other advertising piece has given Belaire an edge over its competitors.

With eight vehicles, Nelson and her daughter, Melissa, run the day- to-day operations of the business. There also are two part-time employees to help run the office. And they still have the same 11 chauffeurs from when Belaire won the award.

“We let everyone know we are one of the few chosen across the world for the OOY award,” Nelson said.

Richard Ford, Regal Limousine, North Hampton, NH

2001 Large Operator of the Year

Winning the award marked the beginning of a journey that never ends for Regal. The company's mission, to provide excellence day in and out, remains a constant philosophy. "We use the award as another reason as to why we are the best of the best and it helps us remained focused," Ford said.

The OOY award is used in all of Regal's promotional pieces and is posted througout the company to remind Regal's team as well.

Ford said the company is glad to be thriving in such difficult years for the travel industry, and has worked hard to balance the downturn in corporate travel by enhancing retail trade business.

Regal has 38 vehicles, down from more than 40, and 80 employees.

Eric Weiner, All Occasion Transportation, Providence, RI

2002 Medium Operator of the Year

Since receiving the award, All Occasion has been busy, moving into a new state-of-the-art facility with new offices and a drivers' lounge. The company has kept its downtown Providence office, but moved most of its day-to-day operations to the new facility.

Weiner said the company is extremely proud of the award, mentioning it in all its literature, on its website, and in all press releases and advertising campaigns.

"The award has given us instant credibility with national networks, local competitors, and it's a great marketing tool with our current customers as well as our potential new customers," Weiner said.

The company continues to be innovative and original, using technology to help manage costs and offer the highest level of customer service. All Occasion operates 17 vehicles and has a staff of 37.

Jeff Greene, Greene Classic Limousines, Atlanta

2003 Large Operator of the Year

Greene Classic Limousines has been busy since it won its OOY award. The city of Atlanta honored Greene and his company with a proclamation for receiving the industry's highest achievement award at a city council meeting.

Greene promotes the award in whatever way possible -- through mailers, postcards, and labels. Even the company's phone on-hold message mentions it. He also had a billboard citing the award put up alongside a busy downtown freeway. If a client mentions "Greene is #1" they receive a free gift.

Greene, who operates 45 vehicles and has 100 employees (75 chauffeurs and 25 office stafff), says the OOY acknowledged his company and the type of service it offers.

"It created name recognition and has made employees and chauffeurs proud to work for a company that is Operator of the Year," he said, "and it's really instilled some faith in our customers."

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