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Chris Quinn, President and CEO of CTS and captain with Metro Fire in Sacramento.
It takes a special kind of person to serve in the name of public safety. Selflessly, police officers, firefighters and paramedics put themselves at risk every day to ensure the well-being of others.
Within the limousine industry, many operators have served or continue to serve the public as second jobs. Often these individuals bring what they have learned through training and experience to their businesses. A background in public safety is an invaluable asset, yielding sharp organizational and operational skills, resilient character and strong leadership. And their companies and the industry are all the better for it.
The one time a citizen may rely on the fire or ambulance service is when a child is injured or at risk. There is no room for failure. Chris Quinn, President and CEO of Corporate Transportation Solutions (CTS) in Sacramento, sees things the same way at his company.
Quinn is a captain with the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District (Metro Fire), also serving roles as his agency’s public information officer and liaison to local, state and federal agencies on homeland security matters. Quinn says his background in emergency services has instilled a sense that every trip his company makes is mission critical.
“In the fire and ambulance business, we don’t say we’re overbooked. It’s not acceptable to say I can’t find you. Those are things that I just don’t understand because I come from emergency services.” Whether it’s a job interview or anniversary, it is mission critical for that customer, Quinn says. Quinn co-founded the company with his wife, Shannon Quinn, in 2002. He brought his strong operational background, while Shannon, who worked for upscale fashion retailer Nordstrom, has a strong sense of customer service.
One thing in particular Quinn brought from his public safety work is doing post-incident analysis. Sometimes formal, sometimes not, emergency services use post-incident analysis to evaluate their performance and improve. “After a fire is under control, we’ll get together for 10 minutes and say, “Engine 1 arrived, what did you do? Truck 3, there were some problems getting water on the roof…”
The same goes for when CTS handles a large group movement: Quinn will ask what worked, what didn’t? It builds situational awareness and helps the less-experienced employees learn from the more experienced ones, he says.
Although the motivations may differ at CTS, Quinn still wants clients and affiliates worldwide to trust his service. “The reason we’re at CTS is to provide a service you can rely on so that when you see us you know it’s someone [who] can take care of you.”
Gary Buffo spent six years serving with the Petaluma Police Depart in Northern California.
In Case of an Emergency
When 9-11 and the dot.com bubble put the economy on the skids in the early 2000s, Pure Luxury Limousine owner and NLA President Gary Buffo didn’t want to cut any employees loose. Instead, he decided to pursue a longtime interest in law enforcement, put himself through the police academy, and became a member of the Petaluma Police Department in 2002. Although pulling double duty was draining him, the six-year experience proved to be a valuable one for Buffo and Pure Luxury.
The quick thinking required when you’re wearing a badge and uniform has been especially helpful when leading a company, Buffo says. “In law enforcement, when you’re going into a critical situation, the first thing you have to do is eliminate the threat.” Similarly, when a problem arises in business, isolating the cause allows you to slow down the situation and think about the resolution with a level head.
Buffo says there’s an old expression in law enforcement: once an officer, always an officer. It’s an apt expression because being in the law enforcement field changes your mindset as an individual, he says. Never more true than during an emergency.
Earlier this year, Pure Luxury experienced an emergency when the company’s servers went down late one evening, losing all the scheduled reservations. “By 1 [a.m.] in the morning, we realized we were out of business,” Buffo says.
Buffo called the reservations and dispatch managers and they were in by 3 a.m. Buffo asked them to sit down for 15 minutes to assess the situation and form a plan. Buffo told them, “’All I need you guys to do is deal with this day.’”
“That entire day, because of the calmness I was able to instill in the staff, we did not miss a pickup. That’s a good scenario of an emergency situation and how you can deal with them on a calm level.”