Operator, Group Leader Balances Vital Industry Roles

Tom Halligan
Posted on April 10, 2017

Greene sports a referee outfit for a panel discussion about running a fleet for Super Bowl at the 2013 LCT-NLA Show East in Atlantic City, N.J. He works as a referee for high schools and colleges in his spare time (LCT file photo)

Greene sports a referee outfit for a panel discussion about running a fleet for Super Bowl at the 2013 LCT-NLA Show East in Atlantic City, N.J. He works as a referee for high schools and colleges in his spare time (LCT file photo)

I recently spoke with Greater Atlanta Limousine Association (GALA) President Jeff Greene, founder and president of Greene Worldwide Transportation of Atlanta, and a longtime board director of the National Limousine Association.

LCT: How did you get started in the industry?
A: I was a helicopter pilot with the Atlanta Police Department and had a part-time job as security at a nightclub. One night, Pat Sajak, the host of “Wheel of Fortune,” was waiting for his limousine to pick him up and complained he didn’t know where it was. It finally showed up 45 minutes late. I noticed people complained about late limousines, rude drivers, and dirty limos, so it dawned on me maybe there was an opportunity. I checked with area nightclub owners and hotel concierges and they had the same complaints. So I bought a limousine and started the company from my basement on April 15, 1988 — I remember because it was tax day!

Q: How did you get involved in advocacy for the industry and your association?
A: I joined the National Limousine Association (NLA) and the Georgia Limousine Association (GLA). In 2012, I and about six members wanted to see the association go in a different direction, so we decided to start a new association, the Greater Atlanta Limousine Association (GALA). I was the first GALA president and today we have 50 members. I also have been active with the NLA, serving as president in 2006-2007 and as an at-large board director elected to the 2012-2015 term and again for the 2015-2018 term. I serve as co-chair on the Association Liaison, Nominating, and Sponsorship Committees.

Q: How do you view the state of the industry today, both locally and nationally?
A: The industry has changed dramatically, and a lot has to with the technology gap between Baby Boomers and Millennials. Technology has been embraced by consumers, and frankly, our industry has been a bit late catching up. Today, we have to use technology and provide even a higher level of service — every day, for every client, for first timers, and long-term clients; it doesn’t matter. That’s what makes luxury transportation different — a high level of service.

Q: What are some of the goals you want to accomplish as president of GALA?
A: We have a successful legislative agenda regarding changes at the airport and regulations, and we continue to fight for the safety of the ground transportation industry. We also are putting together an operator network texting program where members can text one another if they have a client who needs transportation right away. The first operator to respond gets that business.
We also provide members with education, networking opportunities, and vendor benefits, and we are very proud of our annual charity golf tournament that benefits Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Over the years, we have donated $50,000. GALA members are a great bunch of men and women, everyone is a friend, and they all deserve to be successful.

Q: What keeps you competitive and motivated?
A: I’ve been in the industry now for 30 years and I still have passion for serving our clients. Every day is different. You have to like people and employ a great staff. I’ve been fortunate to have great chauffeurs and dispatchers, many of whom have been with me more than 20 years. They’re the reason why we have grown over the years. I’m also motivated by the camaraderie within our association and the NLA. Over the years, I have gained so much knowledge from members, and I hope I have passed along some knowledge, too. Being involved with GALA and the NLA is my way of giving back to the industry.

Q: What do you do in your free time?
A: I needed to do something to stay healthy so I became a high school football referee and then a high-school and college lacrosse referee. When I first did a lacrosse game, it required a lot of running, and I didn’t think I’d make it through the game. But I kept at it and I eventually lost about 60 pounds. I do between 80 to 100 games a year and it’s great because you are just focused on the game, no interruptions or no cell phone, so it’s a great way for me to stay in shape and take my mind off the business for a while.

Tom Halligan is LCT East Coast editor, based in Marlton, N.J. He travels regularly to industry association meetings in the eastern U.S. Tom can be reached at [email protected]

Related Topics: Atlanta operators, Georgia operators, Greater Atlanta Limousine Association, industry leaders, Jeff Greene, limo associations, National Limousine Association, NLA board of directors

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