LCT Publisher Sara Eastwood-Richardson and Dav El/BostonCoach CEO and NLA leader Scott Solombrino gave a state of the industry presentation Jan. 21, 2019 at Limo University's LABLive conference in Nashville, Tenn.
A dark grey Maserati Quattroporte whistles through France’s A-7 Autoroute on its way to drop off a client’s cargo in Lyon, France, and a pair of black Mercedes E55 AMG sedans are hot on its tail, roaring through freeway traffic to keep up with the grey bullet disappearing in front of them. Nearly 800 miles away, in Northamptonshire, England, a yellow, black and white Porsche GT3 RS Cup S buzzes around the Silverstone racetrack like an angry wasp, determined to beat other speed demons to the finish line.
The men piloting the Porsche and Maserati are a pair of drivers whose professional aspirations couldn’t be any more different. They are also the protagonists whose lives cross paths to form the axis around which Robert L. Turner’s debut novel, The Driver: Decisions, revolves. Just a few pages in and the automotive aficionados and tech-savvy readers will recognize that Turner knows his stuff. He’s the business development manager of Fujitsu Computer Products of America, which entered the chauffeured transportation market this year with an array of paper scanners; has owned eight Porsches; and has driven hundreds of laps around racetracks.
Turner draws heavily on his auto racing experience, extensive technological knowledge and familiarity with the chauffeured transportation industry to create this dynamic page-turner. He even name drops some Fujitsu products in the book as a “novel” way to give his company good exposure.
Rene Dufour, known as “The Driver,” serves a demanding high-end client base, delivering cargo (which could be things, people, or things and people) from point A to point B, safely and on-time. More often than not, the cargo is of a sensitive nature — an ominous black box, a pair of honeymooning celebrities, the daughter of some powerful Eastern European boss — and Dufour does everything he can to ensure each trip is satisfactory, including tricking out his Maserati with the most advanced technology and security features.
After 10 years of these trips, known as “Engagements,” Dufour is ready to retire and enjoy life on his vineyard in the French countryside. He doesn’t need the money; he charges anywhere from $15,000 to $400,000 or more per trip. But he can’t just walk away because he cares about his clients, those generous men and women who have been so loyal and helped him build a nice life. He knows other drivers, some of whom he even accepts farm-in work from, but none he considers suitable replacements for his clients. He decides he needs to find and train a protégé, but where, and whom?
Marc Lange is a pro race car driver who competes in the FIA GT3 European Championship series. He’s also owner of Team Technik, a small but popular racing team. But Lange and Team Technik have a problem: their sponsoring co-driver calls it quits after the economy thrashes his finances and leaves the team starving for cash flow to help finish the rest of the season.
Stella, Technik’s bombshell director of operations, does her best to squeeze additional funds from the team sponsors, but Lange knows it won’t be enough and resolves to find another co-driver for the team, preferably one with enough skill to complement deep pockets. He holds tryouts and is disappointed by all the prospects. Then a man in black shows up and posts the fourth-fastest time the track has ever seen. He agrees to fund Team Technik on one condition: Lange has to go with him on a “simple business Engagement.”
Although the novel takes place in various exotic European locales, the fanciest words that show up are the names of the equally exotic vehicles, and maps of the featured racetrack or city appear at the beginning of each chapter to give readers a visual of the setting.
Turner’s writing shines brightest in his action scenes, especially the adrenaline-charged race-or-chase sequences, where his precise racing vocabulary makes it feel like a ballet of chaos. The novel reads the way its protagonists drive: fast, furious, dancing with disaster but managing to keep it all together with the cool elegance of a seasoned professional. So don’t be surprised if you find yourself unconsciously reaching for a seatbelt.
For more information about the book and its author, please visit The Driver book series website.
Here are the trends you should be keeping an eye on so you don't get left behind.
It may not be a shock to the industry, but the public should know who they are leaving their lives in the hands of.
Outside of staffing, 27% of this year’s respondents report escalating costs is their second greatest challenge.
JAN. LCT Editor's Edge: As with customers, you have to meet people where they are at and figure out what really works.
Millennials and their use of social media spur the rise in transparent user-generated platforms.
DEC. LCT Publisher's Page: The mission of this year was about focus, retooling, and turning a profit.
The TNC published a white paper that concludes most of its drivers are happy and earn more than minimum wage.
The results of an Egencia survey provide valued insights into the minds of chauffeured clients.
SEPT. LCT: Catering to mobile-minded travelers while using tech to enhance their experiences will propel your operations, expert Lenore D’Anzieri says.
SEPT. LCT Editor's Edge: If you stay out of the media black hole, you'll notice real life abounds with positive signs.
Spending is estimated to advance another 7.1% in 2018 and will expand to $1.7 trillion total by 2022.
The event provides a wide platform for the industry to promote its safety, comfort, and convenience advantages.
AUG. LCT: Here’s a checklist of changes to consider as you adapt your service to new client behaviors and expectations.
Here's some advice you won't have to read in the form of a large, clunky report.
The world's No. 1 online marketplace and trader for professional chauffeured and chartered vehicles, including all types of motorcoaches, buses, vans, stretch limousines, sedans, SUVs, exotics, and classics. New and used vehicles are available from sellers across the nation.
The best online networker to find quality affiliates worldwide and market your company.
Click on any state to see the latest industry news and events in that region.