Indiana Operations Merge To Form Diversified Company

LCT Staff
Posted on April 20, 2011

[LAST UPDATED: 4/21/11 6:32PM EDT]

ABOUT PHOTO: Carte Blanche CEO Barbara Branstetter now runs the second largest limousine company in Indiana after buying a partial competitor 60 miles to the south.

SUMMARY: A “matchmaker” deal puts together two strong operators who can now serve the state’s capital and largest city, a nearby university town, and many locations statewide.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — CARTE BLANCHE LIMOUSINES of Indianapolis closed a deal April 15 to acquire the vehicles and assets of CLASSIC TOUCH LIMOUSINE SERVICE of Bloomington to form a 27-vehicle company with projected 2011 revenues of $2.2 million.

Carte Blanche becomes the second-largest luxury chauffeured transportation company in the state of Indiana.

The private deal was arranged over the last six months by industry consultant and business broker Tom Mazza of Philadelphia-based TOM MAZZA CONSULTING, who brought the owners together. Each company did about $1 million in sales in 2010.

The companies will operate under their respective names for the near-term, but eventually under the Carte Blanche brand only. Carte Blanche is owned and lead by Barbara Branstetter, president and CEO, and her husband and business partner, Robert Branstetter. The seller, Classic Touch owner David Rogers, will remain in the company in a sales and business development role for the next few years, and will collect gradual payments for his business over a defined period, Mazza told LCT.

As part of the deal, Carte Blanche, which has 15 vehicles, gains the 12-vehicle Classic Touch fleet, an airport concession at Indianapolis International Airport, and the rental of the former Classic Touch location in Bloomington, which is about 60 miles south of Indianapolis.

The combined company has a total of 47 full- and part-time employees.

Classic Touch derives 30% of its business from the Indianapolis area, which allows the overlapping companies to find some economies of scale. Carte Blanche will gain a shared ride shuttle program that Classic Touch operates at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Overall, Carte Blanche derives a major portion of its client base from the financial, manufacturing, and education sectors.

The company has a traditional luxury limousine model with a focus on executive sedan service, in-bound affiliate work, and retail trips. Classic Touch has a similar business mix in addition to its shared-ride component. The company's fleet includes luxury Lincoln Town Car and Cadillac DTS sedans, Cadillac Escalade and Ford Expedition SUVs, Town Car stretch limousines, Turtle Top executive vans and Krystal mini-buses.

“Dave came to me and thought it was a good time to sell,” Mazza said. “He knew Barb and Bob and I went to them. We never listed it publicly. I had a relationship with Barb and Bob, and since there is not a huge market in Indiana, I knew it would be a good fit. The personalities also were a good fit and they connected right away.”

Barbara Branstetter told LCT: "Classic Touch always has been a good brand in the area, with a monopoly in Bloomington. They do a lot of shared rides and our revenues are about the same. I felt the addition of shared ride business, plus the large accounts in the Bloomington area, would be a good fit for us. It makes us a regional player instead of just Indianapolis. Branstetter also said in a press release, “There are great synergies between our companies that made the deal attractive. . . We see Bloomington as an attractive market to be in. It is a vibrant community anchored by Indiana University and we see great opportunities to sell our services.”

Mazza said the fleet could be reduced to 24-25 vehicles depending on synergies. “They hope to run the company with fewer vehicles. They would like to become more efficient and do more work with less vehicles.”

— Martin Romjue, LCT editor

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