ABOUT PHOTO: (L-R) GCLA President Mark Stewart, GCLA board director Steve Levin, board director Gary Buffo, GCLA Treasurer Jack Nissim, GCLA Second Vice President Rich Azzolino, GCLA First Vice President Christopher Quinn, GCLA Secretary Scott Ruge, board director Deena Papagni, board director Kevin Illingworth, vendor director Barbara Papp, board director Jorge Rodriguez, vendor director Lee Martinez, and vendor director Steve Wood. (Companies mentioned in article).
SUMMARY: California’s industry association gets ready for next year with a new slate of officers and a clarified agenda.
LOS ANGELES — The GREATER CALIFORNIA LIVERY ASSOCIATION closed out this year with plenty of plans and pursuits for the new one.
At its annual Christmas holiday meeting and mixer Tuesday night, the association announced its new officers, board members, and 2011 agenda, while underscoring appeals for new members and volunteer participants.
About 90-100 operators, vendors, industry visitors, and guests attended the event, which drew coverage from both trade magazines, LCT and Limousine Digest.
First up was the announcement of permanent leadership since former GCLA President Alan Shanedling resigned in late September. The GCLA board met Tuesday morning and selected the following officers:
• President: Mark Stewart, Blue Moon Limousine, Costa Mesa, Calif. (Stewart had been acting President since September).
• First Vice President: Christopher Quinn, Corporate Transportation Solutions (CTS), Granite Bay, Calif.
• Second Vice President: Rich Azzolino, Gateway Worldwide Transportation, Burlingame, Calif. (Azzolino also is a board director of the National Limousine Association representing the West Coast.)
• Treasurer: Jack Nissim, AMS Pacific Limousine and Transportation, Los Angeles
• Secretary: Scott Ruge, American Luxury Limousine, Thousand Oaks, Calif.
In selecting its executive slate, the GCLA strove to balance representation among the two halves of the vast state, with three leaders from Southern California companies and two from Northern California ones.
Additional GCLA board directors for 2011 include:
• Gary Buffo, Pure Luxury Transportation, Petaluma, Calif.
• Kevin Illingworth, Classique Limousines, Orange, Calif.
• Steve Levin, Sterling Rose Transportation, Temecula, Calif.
• Jorge Rodriguez, Lifestyle Transportation, San Diego
• Deena Papagni, A Touch Of Class Transportation, Madera, Calif. (Papagni is also a board director of the NLA).
• Rod Rave, Empire CLS, Los Angeles
• Bijan Zoughi, Diva Limousine, Los Angeles
Rave and Zoughi did not attend the GCLA event.
Vendor members for 2011 are:
• Steve Wood, South Bay Ford, Hawthorne, Calif.
• Lee Martinez, Transpo Insurance/Public Auto Risks Inc., Las Vegas, Nev.
• Barbara Papp, Star Ford-Lincoln-Mercury, Glendale, Calif.
The GCLA holiday event also drew notable industry figures and operators from out of state:
• Arthur Messina, CEO, Create-A-Card Inc., St. James, N.Y.
• Jason Sharenow, Broadway Elite Chauffeured Services Worldwide, East Hanover, N.J.
• William Rondo, Superior Global Transportation, Boston
• Bill Faeth, Silver Oak Transportation, Nashville, Tenn.
• Ed and Kyara Kahakauwila, L.A. Limousines, Victoria, B.C.
• Shane Handel, Maxim Limousine Worldwide, Scottsdale, Ariz.
• Barry Gross, ExecuCar, Phoenix, Ariz.
• Chris Weiss, publisher, Limousine Digest, Medford, N.J.
Following introductions of the new board, Stewart and Quinn took to the stage and outlined three key components of the GCLA agenda for next year:
1) AIRPORTS: The GCLA won a temporary victory this week when it learned that officials at San Diego International Airport have suspended its green vehicle policy for now, Stewart said. The GCLA’s top priority is to either oppose or at least modify onerous green vehicle restrictions at SDA and at the San Francisco International Airport. If enacted, the policies would levy heavy fees on operators serving the airports who don’t use the constricted clean/green vehicle options preferred by airport officials.
“We’re looking at a basis for overturning the program,” Stewart said of the SDA policy. “There could be some legislative changes but that most likely will not happen immediately. The airports are very powerful and are talking to each other.”
FYI/FMI: LCT ARTICLE ON GCLA GREEN VEHICLE BATTLE HERE.
2) WAGE/HOUR: The GCLA is looking for members to serve on a committee that can address state wage and hour rules pertaining to chauffeurs and employees. Operators have struggled with burdensome wage and hour rules that inflate their costs and expose them to the risks of labor litigation.
3) PARTY BUSES: Two high profile California deaths involving drunken young passengers, including a foreign teenager, connected to limo buses have drawn the attention of state legislators who are moving to further regulate use of limo buses and the liabilities of operators. In representing the best interests of operators, Stewart said the GCLA needs to support all proper safety rules while protecting operators from unreasonable regulatory and liability burdens that would hold them responsible for behavior beyond their control.
FYI/FMI: LIMO BUS DEATH BACKGROUND ARTICLE HERE
Stewart and Quinn emphasized the need to boost communication between the GCLA leadership and members and among members themselves. Quinn said board members would be regularly calling members to keep abreast of their concerns and suggestions. “We need you to be our eyes and ears,” Quinn said. “We want you to bring us your ideas.”
Stewart and Quinn also stressed the importance of industry unity and membership recruitment as the state’s chauffeured transportation industry faces increased regulatory battles while emerging from a painful recession.
The first regular GCLA meeting for 2011 is TBA.
— Martin Romjue, LCT Magazine