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LCT Operator Of The Year

Posted on March 1, 1998 by Mark Becker, LCT editor

Finalists Selfless in Their Pursuit of Excellence

It’s that time again, when Limousine & Chauffeured Transportation Magazine recognizes the limousine industry’s elite performers. The 1998 LCT Show is here, and this is the forum where the industry recognizes the very best limousine operators in the land.

The Annual LCT Operator of the Year Award will be presented at the gala LCT Operator of the Year and Association Award of Excellence banquet on March 17 at 7:00 p.m. at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

The LCT Operator of the Year Award was created to honor livery operators who have demonstrated an outstanding ability in the management of their companies and who have made significant contributions to the progress of the livery industry.     

This “Night at the Oscars” will honor livery operators who are extensively involved in state, regional, and national associations; have implemented innovative services into their businesses; provide the very best livery service; have extensive quality chauffeur and office staff training; superior safety records; and are true industry leaders.

The 1998 LCT Operator of the Year finalists in the large category (over 20 vehicles) are Charlie Horky of CLS Transportation in Los Angeles, New York, and Las Vegas; Alan Melton of East Coast Transportation in Jacksonville, FL, and Larry Will werth of Carey Limousine of Boston in Somerville, MA.

The 1998 LCT Operator of the Year finalists in the medium category (11-20 vehicles) are Greg Casteel of Prestige Transportation Group in Portland, OR; Robert Hanson of Bayview Limousine Service in Seattle, WA; and Don and Michelle Wilson of VIP Limousine Service in Macomb, MI.

The 1998 LCT Operator of the Year finalists in the small category (1 -10 vehicles are Renee Aymar of Renee’s Royal Valet in Plymouth, MN; Cory and Steven Rozen of Uptown Limousine Service in Binghamton, NY; John Sokol of Ritz Limousine Service in Brook field, IL; and  Jayelyn Thresher of BryLyn’s Chauffeured Transportation in Bonney Lake, WA. Because of the depth of quality of the small category entrants, four finalists have been named in this category for the first time ever.

Read on to ascertain why these finalists are truly the industry elite.

LARGE OPERATOR FINALISTS

(over 20 vehicles)

Operator: Charlie Horky

Company: CLS Transportation

Location: Los Angeles, New York, and Las Vegas

Fleet Size: 240 vehicles Staff: 347

CLS has contracted out more than $2.5 million in 1997 to national and international affiliates. Horky is constantly working to improve the image and performance of the limousine industry by strongly practicing and supporting rate integrity. This allows the limousine industry to maintain its reputation as a high-end, upscale service.

CLS focuses on establishing new trends within the industry. The company has implemented a fleet of Mercedes Benz sedans, a full time airport representative staff, on-site coordinators at events, and Lear Jet service.

Operator: Alan Melton

Company: East Coast

Transportation

Location: Jacksonville, FL

Fleet Size: 52

Staff: 130

Alan Melton has focused on improving transportation standards in North Florida and has led negotiations for improved airport service in that region.

He is currently serving on the National Limousine Association board of directors and has spearheaded an effort to improve the image of the NLA through public relations and membership committees.

Melton is the founding member of the Atlantic Coast Limousine Association and is pioneering “Total Quality Management” in the limousine industry. Additionally, in 1997, Melton was a respected LCT columnist writing on topics ranging from total quality management to operator certification.

Operator: Larry Willwerth

Company: Carey Limousine of Boston

Location: Somerville, MA

Fleet Size: 40

Staff: 60

Carey Limousine of Boston and its president Larry Willwerth has acted as a consultant to the Massachusetts insurance industry for the past five years.

Limousine operators have been differentiated from taxi operators in order to qualify for assignment to a lower risk pool based on the actuarial tables. The benefit has been significantly reduced insurance rates for operators in that region.

As the point person for the New England Livery Association (NELA), Willwerth successfully negotiated for more than four years the withdrawal of proposed insurance rate increases of 129 percent, 25 percent, and 64 percent.

MEDIUM OPERATOR FINALISTS

(11 - 20 vehicles)

Operator: Greg Casteel

Company: Prestige Transportation Group

Location: Portland, OR

Fleet Size: 18

Staff: 28

The Prestige Transportation Group has helped the limousine industry locally nationally, and individually by treating competitors as colleagues instead of the enemy. Casteel has helped many small operators by providing overflow work, which in turn, returns when his competitors are overbooked. Prestige often loans out its chauffeurs in emergency situations.

Casteel is currently serving his second term as the NLA president and fifth year as director. He is also spearheading an effort to launch a voluntary operator certification program.

Operator: Robert Hanson

Company: Bayview Limousine Service

Location: Seattle, WA

Fleet Size: 18

Staff: 35    

Robert Hanson is the current vice president of the Limousine Association of Washington (LAW) and has worked tirelessly on the Seattle/Tacoma International Airport’s ground transportation advisory board committee as the representative for the LAW.

Additionally, he has worked to educate hotel managers about the importance of contracting with legitimate operators. Hanson has used the recent industry-related tragedies of the past year as a tool to educate the public about the exposure of liability one could face by not contracting with a legitimate operator. Due to this increased awareness, it is now common for area hotels to require an insurance certificate naming them as an additional insured.

Operator: Don and Michelle Wilson

Company: VIP Limousine Service

Location: Macomb, MI

Fleet Size: 16

Staff: 30

Don and Michelle Wilson participated in the initial meetings to begin implementation of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s Public Act #271, which requires safety inspections for all passenger vehicles for hire with a seating capacity of one to 15 passengers, regardless of vehicle body style.

The Wilsons are constantly striving to bring all reputable livery services together to fight the war against uninsured companies that continue to put the public’s life in danger and tarnish the image of the entire livery industry

SMALL OPERATOR FINALISTS

(1-10 vehicles)

Operator: Renee Aymar

Company: Renee’s Royal Valet

Location: Plymouth, MN

Fleet Size: 4

Staff: 10

Renee Aymar genuinely believes in helping others become more successful. She personally visits other limousine operators and believes that by helping others prosper, the overall health of the industry will flourish.

Since 1992, every limousine purchased by Renee’s Royal Valet has been a QVM vehicle. She goes on-site to the limousine manufacturer’s facility and requests custom vehicle features, such as air vents located directly over the windows and specially-built doors to reduce window fogging.

Aymar has been on the Minnesota Chauffeured Transportation board of directors for the past five years.

Operator: Cory and Steven Rozen

Company: Uptown Limousine Service

Location: Binghamton, NY

Fleet Size: 8

Staff: 12

Uptown Limousine Service has made a commitment to its community and the industry by setting the very highest standards. This is crucial because Cory and Steven Rozen believe that when you set positive standards, it’s a reflection of how the industry is perceived locally and on a national level.

The company has established an intensive marketing campaign called “Making the Community Connection.” Service is the number one element. Uptown’s objective is 100 percent customer retention.

The Rozens emphasize the art of learning how to “listen” to clients. The way to best prepare for any job is through conscientious listening. According to Cory, listening is defined as, “to hear something through thoughtful attention.” The Rozens teach and practice this skill so they hear the needs of their customers and can respond in an appropriate manner.

Operator: John Sokol

Company: Ritz Limousine Service

Location: Brookfield, IL

Fleet Size: 7

Staff: 13

John Sokol is an active member of the Illinois Limousine Association and is currently chairman of the 1997-1998 membership drive committee. He is dedicated to educating the public about limousines as a safe and affordable means of transportation.

Through his work with Chicago’s Hispanic communities and local government, he has brought a much-needed service to Chicago’s largest minority. This has opened a whole new market and profit center, not only for himself, but for other companies in his region.

Ritz Limousine works diligently with a network of other small operators who understand the value of working together. If any problems arise, help is always available.

Operator: Jayelyn Thresher

Company: BryLyn’s Chauffeured Transportation

Location: Bonney Lake, WA

Fleet Size: 6

Staff: 6

In July of 1994, Jayelyn Thresher was elected to a two-year term on the Limousine Association of Washington (LAW) board of directors. In 1996, she was elected LAW president.

In February of 1996 via a national election of her peers, Thresher was elected to serve on the NLA board of directors. She was the first operator from the state of Washington to hold that office.

BryLyn’s Chauffeured Transportation operates only new-body- style Lincoln limousines, Town Car sedans, full-size vans, and all wheel drive minivans. The company’s chauffeurs are 100-percent certified by the nationally known driving school Chauffeurs Professional Drivers Training in Federal Way, WA.


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