Sandy Miller sees a future in providing a level of chauffeured service that TNCs cannot.
Numerous factors play into any decision to relocate. Growth drives a lot of moves, of course, but the need for modern offices and garage space are reasons as well. Some move for better logistical location to serve clients. Maybe it’s purchasing your own facility to build equity instead of leasing.
LCT caught up with two veteran operations and one start-up that recently moved into new facilities to accommodate anticipated growth. Each highlight an array of contributing factors that spurred their decisions to relocate to new facilities that can help other operators plan their strategy when ready to relocate.
Ranked No. 4 in this year’s LCT annual industry survey of 50 Largest Fleets List, Flyte Tyme Worldwide Transportation President Tim Rose is still in overdrive expanding his diverse Mahwah, N.J.-based operation that includes top-tier transportation services, corporate travel management, and meetings and event transportation. In addition, Rose recently added a new business unit to his growing operation — providing full turn-key management services to other private transportation companies.
Always thinking long-term growth, Rose bought and completely renovated a new facility one year ago to support his mission to double the size of Flyte Tyme in five years. The new 52,000-square-foot facility houses 105 employees, with plenty of floor to double that number in the coming years.
Rose and his staff took great pains to ensure the new facility was professional, efficient, comfortable, eco-friendly, and most important — able to foster a collaborative team environment. For instance, the building was constructed in an “open design” format that groups all departments throughout the first floor, where managers are visible and can roam the floor for a more hands-on style instead of hunkering down in offices.
The floor plan also includes common areas that have comfortable couches and chairs where staff can take a break or meet with other employees. Further, the cafeteria is big, bright and modern and includes a large flat-screen TV. Rose doesn’t allow staff to eat lunch at their desks so the cafeteria is another venue for staff to mingle, relax and collaborate.
A lot of bottom-line dollars can be saved by going “green.” Rose ensured that his building combined energy efficiency and a pleasant working environment for employees. The energy-efficiency results in floor-to-ceiling windows that let in natural light combined with sensors that adjust lighting in unused areas, and an HVAC unit that saves bottom-line dollars.
Rose even looked at the maintenance facility to save energy, installing high-speed garage doors that open and close in a flash. Knowing he cannot afford to have any down time in his operation, Rose built an outside natural gas generator that can power the building if the grid goes down. He also has a state-of-the-art IT/data center managed onsite, and an offsite backup data recovery operation in case of a serious disaster.
“The goal was to make the facility a better work environment that fosters a collaborative spirit, with managers walking around rather than hiding in offices. In our former facility, departments were segregated, and this new facility I think creates a better work ethic and productivity,” Rose says. “We have an open floor plan that groups our meetings and events team, including the customer service team, call center agents and dispatch, fleet management services, and billing and accounting. Every department and team is accessible on the floor.”
With parking spaces for 700 vehicles (the company’s fleet is at 360 — and growing), Rose made sure his facility could handle every aspect of growth, including expansion of his corporate van and shuttle business.
As his business and new ventures expand nationwide, Rose views his facility and its ability to house more staff as the “command center” to manage expansion through economies of scale. To that end, the facility was built and furnished to convey professionalism in a pleasant working environment combined with modern amenities to attract high-end employees who fit into the company’s culture and long-term vision.
“Yes, morale is much better than in the old facility and we have definitely noticed the change,” Rose adds.
When Gregg Moulton launched Orlando Select Transportation about a year ago, his background in transportation logistics prepared him to find a facility that met a number of critical needs for a start-up. Moulton’s launch was not the typical newbie drill of buying an old limo and working from home. No, he leased a new office and started with four new vehicles and jumped head-first into the business. Key to his launch was finding the perfect, affordable facility with a garage at the right location. Not an easy task.
“I wanted a place that offered a nice office with a welcome area with couches where I could invite clients for meetings and have visitor parking and a garage, so my operation was all together,” Moulton says. That criterion was hard to find in the growing Orlando region, but Moulton did his due diligence scouting sites day and night and finally found the right facility.
Thinking long-term, he also wanted a space that offered growth potential. He was astute enough to be realistic about launching a new business and wanted to make sure he could afford the space, knowing that in Orlando summer months can be slow. “That was very important to make sure I could do this, knowing summer could be slow and I had the resources to pay my rent and bills,” he says.
“One of the things that sold me on my facility was the fact the landlord understood my long-term approach and said when the time came I would have first right of refusal for a bigger space, or if the office next to me became available, I could knock down the wall and expand,” Moulton says.
Another key financial concern was his monthly fixed costs, and the fact his rent included all services except Internet and electricity. “That was important because I knew every month what my fixed costs were so I could manage cash flow.”
Location was important to Moulton to serve clients and run an efficient operation that would save gas and time. “My office is 10 minutes from the airport, 10 minutes from International Drive (Disney World) and major thoroughfares. Space with a garage is not easy to find in Orlando, but I worked to find what I needed,” he says.
Robert Alexander, CEO of RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation, worked at home until his new facility in Rockville, Md., was completed Aug. 3. Ranked No. 25 in this year’s LCT’s annual survey of the industry’s largest fleets, Alexander has a different take on why he is investing in a new facility — Millennials.
Because RMA is located in the bustling Washington, D.C., metro area that has low employment rates coupled with a highly educated workforce, attracting quality employees is a challenge.
“I call this my Millennial building because we modified it to attract bright young people, and to do that we created a ‘modern industrial’ open work environment with exposed ceilings, all glass offices and nice break rooms and bathrooms,” Alexander says. ”We invested a lot of resources into the new facility because we want people to come here and say this is a great place and I want to work here. It’s a recruiting tool.”
Of course, the primary reason for the move was the growing company needed more space. “We also wanted a facility to work more collaboratively and more efficiently, and our work space allows us to achieve those two goals,” he adds. “There’s no separation or sectioning of departments.”
The building features high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass windows that let in natural light. Conference rooms have modern fixtures and skylights are very eco-friendly throughout. “Even the bathrooms are cool with high ceilings,” Alexander says.
Like Rose and Moulton, Alexander advises operators to plan for growth when moving to a new facility. “It’s not about what you need today, but what you need five years from now.”
Regarding garages, “My rule of thumb is that you make money in your office, not your garage and I’ll tell you why,” Alexander says. “I’m not a big fan of a big warehouse full of cars because you’re not happy if your cars are all on the road and that space is empty real estate, and you’re not happy if it’s full because you’re not making any money.”
Rose and Alexander agree that owning is better than renting because you own a fixed asset and can do what you want with the building. “It’s better to own especially if you are in a market where real estate is appreciating and you have a hard asset that you can sell down the road.”
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