Pete Corelli, owner of Lakeview Custom Coach in Oaklyn, NJ, has helped launch many limousine services in his distinguished 18-year livery career. With a full-service repair facility and a new and usedvehicle showroom, the company is well known throughout the industry.
Corelli began as a limousine operator in 1980 when the livery industry was in its infancy. “Our local phone book in South jersey had two listings for limousine companies,” says Corelli. “The only vehicle used at the time was a Cadillac factory built formal. The gaming business had come to Atlantic City. The industry started because the casinos created a demand for the transportation.
Corelli, who was already running a top flight mechanical repair facility, began working on the few limousines in his region and enjoyed the work. “I always considered myself a creative automotive specialist, so I was intrigued by the conversions,” he says. “I got into fabricating parts and interior work.”
Lakeview Custom Coach initially sold Armbruster limousines in 1984. Corelli then established a relationship with Corporate Coach in sales and product development. Currently, Lakeview exclusively represents Krystal Enterprises, headquartered in Brea, CA.
“Pete Corelli is our biggest dealer, a fantastic person, and a part of our family,” says Ed Grech, president of Krystal Enterprises. “The working relationship between Lakeview and Krystal has been the best.”
When Ford began to develop its limousine Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM) certification program, the company approached Corelli and asked him to serve on its first committee. “The manufacturers saw a need for guidelines and restrictions in modifying their products and I was one of the few people they could turn to for guidance,” says Corelli. “I enjoyed that tremendously”
Corelli is also a founding member of the South Jersey Limousine Association (SJLA) and is currently the Association’s president. The SJLA won the inaugural LCT Association Award of Excellence at the 1996 LCT Show in Atlantic City, NJ. He has been a speaker at numerous industry functions over the past 15 years.
Corelli has seen the industry evolve over the past several years and is surprise at how long the Limousine conversions have become. I thought 60 inches would be the longest stretches built for ordinary use,” he says “I am amazed that a 120-inch stretch limousine is now considered a conventional vehicle that most operators own.”
Corelli also marvels at the increased sophistication of his customers, “The whole industry has become so well informed,” he says. “We used to cater to a lot of ‘car guys’ who did not want to run sedans Now our clients are skilled business people who know how successful they can be with a diverse fleet. Our industry is very healthy right now and one of the keys is the increased education of the operators.”
Corelli says the industry will experience increased consolidation as the millennium years. “I see more mergers and acquisitions in the future and I think the smaller companies will struggle to survive,” he says. “The economy is healthy and so is the limousine industry. I am very optimistic.”