Operations

Former Limo-Only Company Sees Business Boom With Buses

Martin Romjue
Posted on September 14, 2014
The management team of La Fleur Transportation consists of (L to R): Michael Lander, COO; Michael Paige, operations/compliance manager; Patricia Frierson, CEO; Darth Lander, Co-CEO; and Darryl Carroll, sales/customer service manager.
The management team of La Fleur Transportation consists of (L to R): Michael Lander, COO; Michael Paige, operations/compliance manager; Patricia Frierson, CEO; Darth Lander, Co-CEO; and Darryl Carroll, sales/customer service manager.

The management team of La Fleur Transportation consists of (L to R): Michael Lander, COO; Michael Paige, operations/compliance manager; Patricia Frierson, CEO; Darth Lander, Co-CEO; and Darryl Carroll, sales/customer service manager.

The management team of La Fleur Transportation consists of (L to R): Michael Lander, COO; Michael Paige, operations/compliance manager; Patricia Frierson, CEO; Darth Lander, Co-CEO; and Darryl Carroll, sales/customer service manager.
The management team of La Fleur Transportation consists of (L to R): Michael Lander, COO; Michael Paige, operations/compliance manager; Patricia Frierson, CEO; Darth Lander, Co-CEO; and Darryl Carroll, sales/customer service manager.

LOS ANGELES — Patricia Frierson came up with an unusual investment plan to launch a charter bus operation.
On Aug. 9, 2003, the then-55-year-old widow was working as a late-shift employee in a sulfuric acid factory in Carson, Calif., and had been living for three years at an Econo Lodge motel. Going through a period she calls “troubles in life,” that night, she hit the jackpot — as in, winning $91 million in the California Lottery.

Manager Michael Paige and owner Patricia Frierson with Larry Olivarez, senior sales executive at Grech Motors, who handled La Fleur’s purchases of four Grech buses. The company has been a loyal client of Grech and previously, Krystal Enterprises.
Manager Michael Paige and owner Patricia Frierson with Larry Olivarez, senior sales executive at Grech Motors, who handled La Fleur’s purchases of four Grech buses. The company has been a loyal client of Grech and previously, Krystal Enterprises.

California Touch of Class keeps its fleet of white LZ Falcon 45 56-passenger and Caio 54-passenger motorcoaches parked and maintained at its main location in south Los Angeles.
California Touch of Class keeps its fleet of white LZ Falcon 45 56-passenger and Caio 54-passenger motorcoaches parked and maintained at its main location in south Los Angeles.

Keeping The Limo Style
While immersed in the charter bus business, Frierson still runs her original Krystal stretch limousine, parked at the company’s facility in Gardena. The stretch is used for wedding and funeral clients. Frierson hopes to add stretches once again to her fleet if the market demands them. “I’m trying to keep my toe in the limo business.”
Meanwhile, she makes sure La Fleur applies the chauffeured-level qualities to the charter bus runs: “I strive to give the best service, be on time, have drivers dressed appropriately and be ready to help.”

FASTFACTS: La Fleur Transportation
Dba: California Touch of Class / La Fleur Limousines

  • Locations: Los Angeles and Gardena, Calif.
  • Founded: 2008
  • Owner: Patricia Frierson, CEO
  • Total fleet: 23 vehicles
  • Vehicle types: 14 2010 LZ Falcon 45 56-pas. motorcoaches; 2 2011 Caio 54-pas. motorcoaches; 4 2014 Grech Motors mid- and mini-buses; 2 Chevrolet Suburban SUVs; 1 2008 Krystal Lincoln Town Car 120-in. stretch limousine.
  • Types of Grech buses: 2 GM33 27-passenger shuttle buses (Ford F550); 1 GM33 24-passenger corporate limo bus (Ford F550); 1 GM40 31-passenger limo bus (Freightliner)
  • Key clients/services: U.S. Armed Forces/military; casino trips; charter trips to Las Vegas, Northern California and Arizona.
  • Key executives/mangers: Darth Lander, Co-CEO; Michael Lander, COO; Michael Paige, operations/compliance manager; Darryl Carroll, sales/customer service manager.
  • Annual revenues: about $5 million
  • Employees: 35 (incl. 21 drivers)
  • Websites: www.lafleurtransportation.com; www.lafleurlimousines.com
  • Contact: (310) 527-7177; (323) 232-8336/7466

SIDEBAR: Lessons Learned
La Fleur Transportation’s operations and compliance manager, Michael Paige, handles the daily logistics of running 16 motorcoaches. That includes tracking and following the latest rules and regulations. “Staying in compliance is a full time job,” he says. Since acquiring the bus fleet in 2011 and 2012, Paige has gained expertise in transitioning from limos to charter buses. He recommends the following key tips for operators:

  • Hire the right drivers, and do complete and thorough background checks, employment checks and drug screenings.
  • Devise and implement a strict and clear alcohol and drug policy for drivers.
  • Create an in-house training program for drivers, focusing on the customer service practices of chauffeurs.
  • Set up pre- and post-trip safety and maintenance inspections of all vehicles.
  • Assign a manager to monitor regulatory compliance full time and to communicate regularly with key agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the California Highway Patrol.
  • Institute electronic record keeping and driver entry of trip information into electronic logbooks, but maintain a dual system of written logbooks documenting all trip information. Regulatory agencies still insist on paper trails.

Related Topics: buses, business growth, California operators, charter and tour, charter and tour operators, family businesses, Los Angeles operators, motorcoaches

Martin Romjue Editor
Comments ( 2 )
  • See all comments
  • Ana Kelly

     | about 2 years ago

    Good Job! - so happy for you.

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