In an industry plagued by image problems over the past decade, this year’s L&C Show provided clear evidence of a dramatic increase in professionalism among livery operators.
“Throughout the many years I have exhibited at the show, this year it was especially apparent that those involved in the industry today are truly professional business people. Much of the gaudy apparel worn in the past has been replaced by business suits,” says Jim Moseley of JLS Transportation Associates in Marlton, NJ. Moseley’s comments were typical of the opinions expressed by numerous vendors and industry leaders in attendance at the 10th Anniversary of the Limousine & Chauffeur Show at the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas on February 6-8, 1904. The show is co-sponsored by the National Limousine Association (NLA) and the Limousine Industry Manufacturers Organization (LIMO).
The over 1,500 delegates on the show floor each of the three days got to get an up close look at over 50 vehicles from 26 coachbuilders and the products from 70 of the industry’s leading vendors. The record breaking number of attendees and large number of exhibitors were openly optimistic about the prospects of the industry in the coming year.
The professionalism started the first day when both John Grettenberger, general manager of Cadillac, and John Treter, leasing and fleet sales manager of Lincoln Division, opened Sunday’s General Session. These two heavyweights both addressed operators on the status of the programs surrounding their respective vehicles and issues important to the industry, such as the Gas Guzzler Tax.
Also at this general session, Dan Clark of Progressive Insurance announced the winners of the company’s 1994 awards. Alan Shanedling of Fleetwood Limousine in Culver City. CA, was named Operator of the Year. And Jerry Widner of Metropolitan Limousine, Inc. in Chicago. IL, was honored as Chauffeur of the Year.
Of the 14 educational sessions held each day, the Think Tanks were rated by attendees is some of the most valuable sessions. This open forum allows operators to exchange ideas on any number of subjects. This year, a special Think Tank was held specifically to address wedding and prom problems. In this session, one operator told how she avoids the problem of drunk riders by supplying free sparkling cider in her vehicles. Many of the individual topics covered in workshops will be featured as articles in upcoming issues of L&C.
Emphasis on Safety
In another push for professionalism, LIMO’s education committee organized a voluntary weigh-in for exhibiting limousines “We felt it was important to help create an awareness regarding weight limits of the limousines and how that applies to seating capacity. Generally, there hasn’t been a lot of information disseminated about seating capacities, and Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). We would like to make operators more aware of these concerns.” says Dan Mitchell, committee chairman.
Dave Clark and Michael Krause of Cadillac’s Specialty Vehicle Division were present to verify the results. In the process, each limousine was weighed to determine its curb weight. Then, LIMO representatives used federal guidelines to ascertain weight allowances for number of passengers, luggage, and fuel. When totaled, these factors determine the gross vehicle weight. The results of this weigh-in were posted on each participating company’s vehicle showing seating capacity and GVW.
“There were a total of 36 limousines weighed. This number represented all but two of the limousine manufacturing exhibitors. These 36 vehicles actually represented many more show cars. Some coachbuilders weighed all of their exhibited limousines. Some just weighed their worst case o Mitchell adds.
The scales for the weigh-in were provided by National Coach Engineering. Ron Zeien of NCE also helped with the effort.
Another pan of LIMO’s education program involved a panel seminar discussing operator’s liability and safely. Representatives from Cadillac and Lincoln were present as well as an insurance industry representative and two transportation attorneys. The session was moderated by L&C managing editor Donna Englander.
Robert Hellmuth of the Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance (OVSC) for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration submitted a brief statement conveying NHTSA’s views on the issue. “Today, OVSC has seen tremendous improvement in the safety and manufacturing of limousines. Most of this has been accomplished through the efforts of the NLA, LIMO, Ford’s QVM and Cadillac’s Master Coachbuilder programs, and their participating members. In particular, the QVM and CMC programs are to be commended for their effort to work closely with the coachbuilders in order to build a safe vehicle.” he says.
“However, we have serious concerns and have received complaints about the unique and ‘one-of-a-kind’ vehicles which are regularly advertised with features such as tandem axles, hot tubs, water beds, obscured headlamp etc. Also, we are concerned about the manufacture of limousines from ‘program’ cars which are not constructed with the same safety features and capacities as those vehicles covered under the Ford and Cadillac coachbuilder programs.
“In most cases, the additional weight that has been added lo these vehicles during manufacture plus the weight from a full load of passengers results in the potential for overloading the tires, axles, and suspension, and its effects on braking, crash protection, and vehicle integrity,” he adds.
Jacobs Resumes NLA Reins
The NLA held its quarterly board meeting in conjunction with the show. Election results were announced. George Jacobs of American Limousine, Alan Fisher of London Livery, Ltd., Art Squires of Southwest Carriage Livery Service, and Mike Tannen of Royal Limousine Coach Service won the nominations. Officers were voted on and Jacobs was once again named NLA president. Also elected were Darlene Bruland of Snow Park Livery, first vice president; Harold Berkman of Music Express, second vice president; Charlie Wisniewski of Teddy’s Transportation Service, secretary; and Fisher, treasurer.
Also at the board meeting, the newly revised bylaws were handed out which included a breakdown of the new dues structure. A copy of H.R. 3719 was given to board members. This bill, which was presented to Congress by Louisiana State Representative William Jefferson, hopes to gain an exemption of limousines from the Gas Guzzler Tax.
LIMO also held its board meeting at the show. This group announced that it organized a committee to coordinate Congressional contacts for the upcoming battle against the Gas Guzzler Tax. Also, both Cadillac and Lincoln are offering vehicles to coachbuilders for $1 to perform dynamic side impact testing on stretches to show compliance to FMVSS 214. Cadillac has offered to assist with the Cadillac test for an additional $1.
In addition to the scheduled program, the show provides operators with a conduit for informal networking and the exchange of business ideas.
Fore! L&C Hosts Las Vegas Golf Tourney
Vic Poleni (left) awards a Cadillac golf bag and plaque to Ray Maidment of Lincoln Division for his low gross score.
Even though Arnie, Jack, and Chi Chi couldn’t make it, the inaugural Limousine & Chauffeur Golf Tournament was a big hit immediately following the show in Las Vegas. The tournament, sponsored by Cadillac, was held at the Mountain Course at Angel Park.
Among the 50 livery industry professionals who teed up that day. Ray Maidment of the Lincoln Division won low gross honors (with an astounding 77) and walked away with his very own Cadillac golf bag awarded by Vic Poleni of Cadillac. Using the Peoria handicap scoring system, Gene Pierpoint of Arizona Limousines captured the low net score and another Cadillac golf bag.
Other winners included Bob Flynn. Jr. of Turtle Top with the second low net score; and Ron Collins of C.C.E., Inc., Dick Barnaby of Limousine Management Systems, and Brent Bell of Bell Trans tied for third low net score. Also notable were Jeff Thompson of Rose Limousine for the longest drive of the day and Lee Stillwell of Congressional Limousine had the closest to the pin.