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GCLA President Mark Stewart (2010-2013) was recognized by the GCLA on Dec. 10, 2013 for his service to the organization during its annual holiday party at The Proud Bird restaurant in Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES — The Greater California Livery Association holiday party and general meeting Tuesday night had the usual fanfare and feel of an end-of-year celebration. There were plenty of food, drinks, desserts, gift giveaways, well wishes, lots of red, a big cake, and the Christmas tree in the corner.
But this year’s party, attended by more than 190 members and guests, served as a graduation of sorts, and a reminder that a distinct period for the GCLA is coming to a close. It was the last party at The Proud Bird restaurant, site of Los Angeles meetings for the last eight years, and the last night President Mark Stewart ran the show.
Stewart’s three years as President spans the most successful chapter in the history of the organization, founded in 1989. During his leadership, paid membership in the GCLA soared from about 135 in December 2010, when Stewart was elected President, to 306 as of Tuesday, a record high for the group. Fundraising reached new heights, propelled by the momentum of the annual GCLA Expo, the largest association gathering and vehicle and vendor event outside of a national trade show, and an annual poker night fundraiser. Stewart announced that the third-annual poker night on Nov. 9 at SoCal Penske Cadillac in Torrance raised $16,500.
The GCLA made big strides in the last three years warding off harmful regulations and staying vigilant on pending legislation and rules. It maintained a professional roster of attorneys, lobbyists and consultants to provide the expertise needed to guide limousine interests in the ever-complex regulatory and economic atmosphere of California, the state that ranks highest in number of limo operators.
Stewart and a supportive board of directors devoted countless hours, organizing and setting up events, and traveling to Sacramento and San Francisco to deal with the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates the state’s limousine industry.
“I felt like I had a full time job with the GCLA,” said Stewart, whose real full time job is as operations manager at CLI Worldwide Transportation in Orange County, Calif., headed by operator Joe Magnano. “I want to thank Joe for being such a good boss.”
Board director and GCLA 1st Vice President Rich Azzolino, a San Francisco operator who also serves on the NLA board of directors, presented Stewart with a President’s Award for his outstanding commitment and service as GCLA President from 2010 to 2013.
“I worked alongside Mark Stewart, and I can’t tell you how much we will miss him,” Azzolino said. “He put in a lot of hard work, day in and day out. He has his heart in this organization. There are big shoes to fill.”
In addition to the membership, Expo and poker fundraiser, Stewart briefly listed the GCLA’s advancements and accomplishments in the last few years: An upgraded website, labor law seminars for operators, Town Hall meetings of members and expanded meetings in Northern California, and more vendor sponsorship and involvement.