Industry Works at Improving Image at Upbeat L&C SHOW

Posted on April 1, 1996 by Mark Becker, LCT editor

The world’s largest limousine show hit Las Vegas like a whirlwind February 5-7, 1996, leaving in its wake an industry enthusiastic and optimistic. The show was the largest in history. There were over 3,100 attendees and 580 exhibitors.


Attendees came from across the United States and from around the globe. International attendees included operators from Paris, Mexico, Australia, Germany, Switzerland, England, Canada, Guam, Spain, Plague, Scotland, and Moscow.

The activities actually began on Sunday, February 4 with the All American Pre-Owned Limousine Auction. On a gorgeous, picturesque, 70-degree day when so many others around the country were suffering through either snow or freezing rain and cold, auction participants enjoyed an event that attracted over 65 vehicles.

Among the interested attendees was actor Kelsey Grammer, who perused the many limousines. Over 80% of the limousines were sold on a day when each vehicle brought fair market value. “There were several excellent buys for operator especially operators new to the business says Cory Rosen, owner of Uptown Limousine Service. “The weather and the setting were absolutely magnificent.”

Greg Casteel New NLA President

The National Limousine Association (NLA) held its dinner Sunday evening. Highlights included Harold Berkman passing on the NLA presidency to Greg Casteel. In doing so, Berkman elaborated on some of the association’s accomplishments in 1995.

The NLA assisted two local associations which are fighting issues that with affect operators across the country. Funds were donated to the Illinois Limousine Association (ILA) to help in its appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court in the McCormick Place struggle.

The NLA was also able to help the New England Livery Association (NELA) defray legal expenses in its insurance fight that would keep limousines out of the high rated taxi industry.

The association commissioned the University of Tennessee to do a study on local and state regulatory fees. The results of this study should prove to be useful in comparing rates nationwide and keeping rates in line across the country.

The NLA finished negotiations with the IRS on the independent contractor issue. After many months of meetings, terms have been finalized and everyone is just waiting for the final product.

Unfortunately, there was not the same success with the Gas Guzzler issue. As hard as the NLA tried to garner support for small business. Congress still does not believe that the limousine industry is entitled to this exemption.

Among the numerous benefits introduced to NLA members in 1995, the most significant was the NLA health insurance program that is now available in all 50 states.

In accepting the NLA presidency Casteel emphasized that the NLA must focus on creating alliances. “We use your small investment and the investments of hundreds of people like you to create these alliances.” says Casteel as he addressed the audience.

Casteel stressed the importance of the continued work of the NLA liaison committee, and its efforts to help regional associations with expertise and funding for issues that will affect operators nationwide.

“The NLA will continue to take the lead in resolving issues and creating better business opportunities for its members,” says Casteel. “I would like to see the board work toward closer alliances with other organizations to increase our lobbying power. In recent years we’ve made some good progress with issues such as the independent contractor issue.”

Seminars, Speakers Educate Attendees

The show offered a vast array of information in the form of seminars, roundtables, and speakers. Some of those highlights included:

  • Tony Ruesing’s seminar on “Better Business Writing.” In the seminar he stressed several key points, among them the six keys to clarity, use short sentences, select shorter words; develop short paragraphs; avoid jargon and pompous language; repeat keywords; and use lists.
  • Ty Bobit, president of Bobit Publishing, and Sara Eastwood, publisher of Limousine & Chauffeur Magazine presented the “State of the Industry” address which included, among other highlights, the following facts; there has been a recent influx of super-stretches into the market; there is currently a ratio of 2.5 to 1 of limousines under 85 inches to limousines over 85 inches; the image of the industry as a whole should be of paramount concern to everyone; operators must have a handle on their operating costs; and all operators should compete through service, not price.
  • Keynote Ken Schmidt from Harley-Davidson and his discussion on the marketing history of Harley-Davidson. He stressed how a love affair should exist between you and your client, and that passion, commitment, and family should always be a part of how you conduct business.
  • Keynote Shep Hyken from Sheppard Presentations and his discussion on “Great Service by Creating Moments of Magic,” which included some of Hyken’s own personal magic. In this session. Hyken emphasized that 25 percent to 35 percent of all satisfied customers don’t come hack because they are merely satisfied; operators should make “Moments of Magic:” and all operators must strive to be a cut above the rest.

Cadillac and Lincoln Hold Q & A Sessions

For those who had any issues to discuss with Cadillac and Lincoln, both companies held Q & A sessions.

Cadillac plans to offer the 1997 DeVille for commercial vehicle applications. During the product transition, there will potentially be available both the rear-wheel-drive Fleetwood and the front-wheel-drive DeVilIe. The company will build enough Fleetwood stock to provide for conversion while the pipeline is being filled with DeVilles.

Cadillac has placed eight 1996 DeVille with four livery companies to mirror the Fleetwood durability program, and to prove durability of this product in commercial use.

Lincoln presented programs and introduced its Lincoln/Mercury team, which included its fleet sales people, engineers, and service personnel. A survey was also passed out to attendees where they could note any major concern in terms of product and durability. Once they completed the surveys, they could fax or send those concerns to the company.

1996 Operators of the Year Named

Limousine and Chauffeur Magazine announced the Operator of the Year and Graphics Contest winners at the Awards Banquet, a gala formal affair held Tuesday. February 6. Excitement filled the air as the evenings festivities wore on and it became, time to announce the Operator of the Year winners.

Ty Bobit and Sara Eastwood did the honors, as George Jacobs of American Limousine in Burr Ridge. IL, Darryl and Karen Norman of Riches & Roses Limousine Service in Charlotte, NC, and Robert Avers of Dreamkeepers Limousine Service in Ithaca. MI were named the 1996 large (over 20 vehicles), medium (11-20 vehicles), and small (1 to 10 vehicles) Operators of the Year respectively.

Much to the astonishment of the newly-crowned victors was a surprise presentation made by a Marilyn Monroe impersonator. She proceeded to serenade the winners with a couple of songs in their honor.

Tuesday, February 7, the attendees were treated to one last chance at the exhibit hall. The showroom floor was opened for four hours to give attendees an opportunity at last minute purchases.

The grand finale was a shot at the links at the Wild Horse Golf Shotgun Scramble and Lunch sponsored by Cadillac.

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