People

First Magazine Created a Lasting Legacy

Martin Romjue
Posted on February 25, 2013
One of LCT’s original contributors, Richard Ramis, recalls the early days when Limousine & Chauffeur and the National Limousine Association were just getting started.

One of LCT’s original contributors, Richard Ramis, recalls the early days when Limousine & Chauffeur and the National Limousine Association were just getting started.

One of LCT’s original contributors, Richard Ramis, recalls the early days when Limousine & Chauffeur and the National Limousine Association were just getting started.
One of LCT’s original contributors, Richard Ramis, recalls the early days when Limousine & Chauffeur and the National Limousine Association were just getting started.

“It is the nature of any business that change will occur on a regular basis. An integral part of doing business, in the limousine service field or any other, is realizing your operation should by no means remain static.”

So read the first sentence, written by first editor-in-chief John Kilroy, in the first issue of Limousine & Chauffeur Magazine in April 1983, in his Editor’s Note titled “An Industry Evolving.” That line easily could be written today in the third-generation successor to Limousine & Chauffeur, now called Limousine Charter & Tour Magazine, still publishing 30 years later.

As that statement shows. . . how much stays the same.

The first few issues of Limousine & Chauffeur eerily reference some of the same challenges and dynamics we see today, although with leap years of technological and mechanical progress in between.

“At the most elemental level, the product itself — the limousine — is changing,” Kilroy wrote. Oh how that reality is still with us today, as reported often in the pages of LCT, and an apt descriptor of the “big story” during this year’s International LCT Show in Las Vegas with its numerous makes, models and types of “limousines.”

One early industry founder, Richard Ramis, was there at the beginning and wrote many of the words in the first years of LCT. He recently was interviewed by LCT about how the first and leading limousine industry trade publication got started.

Ramis, 52, spoke from his office near Chicago, where he still works in dispatching and “limousine logistics,” as he describes it. Ramis is reluctant to name his company or reveal much about what he’s doing because he says he doesn’t want to appear has if he’s seeking attention or promoting something.

LCT’s first issue may have been published in April 1983, but the concept occurred a few months before, about 30 years ago from today. Ramis, a 22-year-old dispatcher at Southwest Limousine in Mokena, Ill., was working on a trade magazine concept. He had been writing, planning, and keeping files for his idea which was in “storyboard” form.

“I had no clue someone else was doing it,” Ramis says. “I was a limo operator, and when I got the magazine [Limousine & Chauffeur], I first was devastated. I figured if I can’t beat them, I’d join them. I contacted the publisher, we had a great talk, and he let me work with them.”

The first issue of Limousine & Chauffeur was owned and published by Winsome Communications Inc. of Costa Mesa, Calif., soon renamed Retailing Today Inc., with David Scott Heinzman as president and publisher. It published three issues through June 1983, when it was bought by Bobit Publishing Inc. of Redondo Beach, Calif. Enter Ty Bobit, new publisher and now the current president of Bobit Business Media, which still owns LCT 30 years later. He had actually been in discussions about the magazine with Heinzman and vice president Ann Stanley before they published the first issue in April.  

In his first publisher’s note in the July/August 1983 issue, Bobit wrote: “We are happy to make this investment to earn your support and will remain dedicated to a commitment of better value and reporting in each bi-monthly issue. That’s a promise.”

Those marching orders have not changed much, either.

Ramis was unofficially working with the first Limousine & Chauffeur team those first few months as an advisor and helped counsel them on their new publication. “Unbeknownst to me at that time, Ty was already looking into it and finally decided to buy it, so they passed my name along,” Ramis says. “Ty called me, we learned we were both from Chicago, and he wanted to see me. We had a nice chat and I helped out advising and wrote and contributed. I never had an official position. I wrote an article every month, spoke at every [trade show], and did a workshop at every show.”

In those early days, Ramis also bonded with the late Dean Schuler, a longtime New Orleans operator and Carey franchisee who also began his trade magazine career with Limousine & Chauffeur as a writer, teacher, statistician and all-around industry advisor. [Schuler died of a heart attack at age 57 in November 2010].

“I ran my own game. I went to two shows, spoke, wrote. . . it was a coachbuilder run game with revenues based on networking [for business],” Ramis says. To help build circulation and industry participation, Ramis worked with Schuler identifying limousine companies across the nation, calling him a “best friend.”

“We were collecting Yellow Pages from around the country and scoured them. We typed up [limo company names] on an IBM selectric typewriter and used a DOS program. A few years later, we had a DOS 3.0 old computer and got a database program together.”

Many of Ramis’ articles were edited by Limousine & Chauffeur editor-in-chief Scott Fletcher. Ty Bobit eventually turned over the publisher reigns to Maury Sutton as he took on more company responsibilities at Bobit Publishing.

Ramis also was one of the first speakers at the first Limousine & Chauffeur trade show in Atlantic City, N.J., in the fall of 1984, an event which was videotaped and for which Ramis still has a video of the second half.

“I remember suggesting how we should pool our resources and get respected by commerce and industry,” Ramis recalls. The National Limousine Association soon got started, with Ramis as one of its founding board members. He served a few years until the duties became time-consuming.

Ramis says he fondly recalls the informality and newness of a business service just gaining traction as an organized industry.

“I had free run of the place and got to do what I wanted to do,” he says. “Scott [Fletcher] cleaned up my articles. We had a very good run. I could open up the show and didn’t even need a script. I had a talent for public speaking, so I just did my thing and hung out.”

Related Topics: anniversaries, Bobit Business Media, Dean Schuler, history of the limo industry, LCT Magazine, Richard Ramis, The LCT Interview, Ty Bobit

Martin Romjue Editor
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