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NLA President Gary Buffo, seen here opening the 2014 LCT-NLA Show East in Atlantic City, N.J., is leading the trade group into one of the boldest periods in its 29-year history, as it tackles the TNC challenge.
Where did the year go? As we head into 2015, I thought it would be a good exercise to sit down with National Limousine Association President Gary Buffo at LCT-NLA Show East and recap the NLA 2014 initiatives and accomplishments. And what a year it was, especially the association bringing out its big bat to clip the knees of the TNCs that have shown nothing but disrespect to the law-abiding limousine industry (Hey, I’m from Jersey — breaking a knee cap is considered a polite way to settle differences).
As you know, the NLA Board of Directors came out swinging this year against the TNCs by releasing a position paper critical of how TNCs operate, skirt transportation laws and rules, and jeopardize public safety by flouting proper insurance, background checks, fair treatment of drivers, and legal and safety requirements. TNCs also advertise false and misleading information to the public, which is mostly unaware of how TNCs operate.
In late October, the board decided to take its anti-TNC message national when it retained Evins, a public relations and marketing firm, to the mainstream media and alert the public of the avoidance of safety, insurance and local and state regulatory issues.
“We have invested $400,000 in the PR campaign, the largest sum the association has ever spent,” Buffo said. “The bottom line is that this money is being used to protect our member operators who play by the rules, and the public needs to know the difference between our law-abiding industry and the TNCs that skirt the law and pose a danger to the public.”
Buffo noted that for the past two years, the board did its homework working on a strategic and comprehensive response to the emerging TNCs. That resulted in issuing the Position Paper and vetting potential PR firms to handle the NLA’s public response. Buffo said that after reviewing multiple PR firms, he recommended Evins believing the firm had the experience and expertise to work with the NLA.