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Operator Bucky Yee, the limo captain of the main Hawaiian island of Oahu, draws upon decades of service as a firefighter and a limousine operator to infuse his business with Aloha Spirit.
HONOLULU, Hawaii — Owner-operator Bucky Yee has what you could call the preferred path to paradise.
His company, Elite Limousine Service of Honolulu, gets upfront access at the island chain’s largest airport while serving as an exclusive luxury limousine provider for the five Sheraton hotels on Waikiki Beach, the state’s most popular vacation destination. Elite also gets a steady share of business from other prominent hotels on Waikiki, making it a universally recognized service along the famed oceanfront beach that draws leisure tourists, convention goers, and business travelers worldwide.
Yee, 75, runs the largest limousine fleet on Oahu, with 25 vehicles, and has the oldest limousine service under continuous ownership. He started chauffeuring in 1978 and incorporated in 1981 with two vehicles.
“I have been in business so long people know us and our limo service,” Yee says. “We have no problems parking. The doormen and valets all know me.”
Before most clients can even set foot into paradise, they must navigate the Honolulu International Airport, where the baggage claim is far enough from the arrival gates to warrant a special bus service, known as Wiki Wiki shuttles. (In the Hawaiian language, Wiki means quick). Elite Limousine, however, gets access to the curbside where disembarking passengers step aboard the shuttles, which means Elite chauffeurs can walk their clients from the gates to the chauffeured vehicles parked along the Wiki Wiki curb.
From there, the chauffeurs drive the clients to the baggage claim area, help them retrieve their luggage, and then it’s off to any of the many hotels where Elite is a repeat and recognized luxury service brand. “We know every place. You don’t even have to give us the address,” Yee says.
Another service distinction for Elite is that its chauffeurs all have been vetted through FBI background checks. That helps them move about the airport with ease, including access for picking up clients on the tarmac. Most of Yee’s chauffeurs have been with the company an average of 20 to 25 years, and the newest ones an average of five years. “They’re all local boys who know the island,” says Yee, adding that the chauffeurs all speak Hawaiian, know the history of the island, and take tourism classes as part of their customer service training.
Such expertise pays off in making Elite the go-to vehicle service for many celebrities, VIPs, and government officials who visit the island. The company often handles the executives traveling as part of a convention or meeting. Yee also helps charter bus companies coordinate the logistics of fleet movements for large groups and provides supplementary chauffeured vehicles when needed.
Elite Limousine relies mostly on a more traditional fleet mix, suitable to a stable, leisure-oriented environment for both business travelers and leisure tourists: Stretch limousines, Lincoln Town Car sedans and Lincoln Navigators.
Yee’s experience and seasoned approach to service makes him appear as if he’s been working in the limousine industry his entire career. But his previous job as a firefighter and fire captain played a major role in developing his reputation.
He attributes much of his success to the relationships he developed over the many years serving in the Honolulu Fire Department, and the rigorous training that requires honesty and integrity. Yee started his limousine service as a side business while still serving full time as a firefighter.
“The integrity of being a fireman goes a long way,” he says. “People know where I came from, so the respect is there. They will listen to me. Everyone knows who I am and they will open the door.”