Operations

Owner Of N.C. Limo Companies Embraces Growth

Martin Romjue
Posted on December 3, 2014
Gray Hill, owner of Black Tie Transportation of Greensboro, N.C., which acquired Blue Diamond Worldwide Transportation of Raleigh, N.C., on Sept. 16.

Gray Hill, owner of Black Tie Transportation of Greensboro, N.C., which acquired Blue Diamond Worldwide Transportation of Raleigh, N.C., on Sept. 16.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Black Tie Transportation’s acquisition of Blue Diamond Worldwide Transportation on Sept. 16 puts the companies into a new phase of expansion as they widen their client base in a growing state economy.

Black Tie Transportation, based in Greensboro, and Blue Diamond, a chauffeured limousine and sedan service owned by operator Carrie Peele based in Raleigh, each have about 25 years of experience in providing chauffeured transportation.

“This is starting to be very positive with all the offices working well together,” Black Tie owner Gray Hill told LCT a few months after the deal closed. “The growth in North Carolina matches my vision on how to grow the companies. These are great markets.”

Gray Hill, owner of Black Tie Transportation of Greensboro, N.C., which acquired Blue Diamond Worldwide Transportation of Raleigh, N.C., on Sept. 16.
Gray Hill, owner of Black Tie Transportation of Greensboro, N.C., which acquired Blue Diamond Worldwide Transportation of Raleigh, N.C., on Sept. 16.
Black Tie specializes in airport, event and wedding transportation services along with guided tours to wineries, historical sites and cities. Before the acquisition, its fleet consisted of eight sedans, two SUVs, two vans, two limousines, four mini-buses and three motorcoaches, for a total of 21 vehicles. Black Tie’s business divides about 80% corporate and 20% retail.

Black Tie is now the holding company for both brands, which will be marketed and maintained separately. Hill also operates Black Tie Charters in Winston-Salem, which has 17 motorcoaches.
 
Although terms of the deal were not disclosed, the purchase of Blue Diamond provides Black Tie with additional revenues in excess of $1 million and 12 small to mid-size luxury fleet vehicles. Altogether, the Black Tie transportation group brings in about $8 million in annual revenues and has about 100 employees, Hill told LCT.

The combined operations will run about 60 vehicles, including new and pending purchases, to mostly serve two major metro regions in North Carolina: The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Research Triangle, and the Triad Region consisting of Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point. Black Tie also focuses business in the golfing resort town of Pinehurst and North Carolina’s largest coastal city, Wilmington.

“I’m keeping Blue Diamond name because it’s 25 years old,” Hill told LCT. “I’m celebrating 25 years, so we have a combined 50 years of experience.”

Black Tie is trying out an all-new fleet of Cadillac XTS livery sedans and Chevrolet Suburbans for the Raleigh market. “We ran nothing but Town Cars before, but we’re giving Cadillac a shot,” said Hill, adding that Lincoln MKT Town Cars remain in the fleet.

Among the big industrial and business drivers of chauffeured business for Black Tie are research and development, pharmaceutical, tobacco, furniture, garment, automotive, universities and sports teams. The Triad Region is the furniture manufacturing capital of the world, while the area also has numerous garment outlet stores that draw shoppers from along the East Coast.

Hill had been looking to expand his business and approached The Tenney Group about available opportunities. The Tenney Group, a 40-year-old firm specializing in the sales, acquisitions, and valuations of transportation businesses, represented Blue Diamond.

With Blue Diamond located only about 80 miles east of Black-Tie, the sale proved an ideal arrangement for the two established companies, which had shared some affiliate business over the years and worked together on major events such as golfing tournaments at Pinehurst and the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

Blue Diamond Worldwide’s former owner, Carrie Peele, started the company in 1990 with $15,000 on three credit cards and one midnight blue limousine. During the last 24 years, Peele turned that small beginning into the largest woman-owned limousine company in North and South Carolina. She garnered contracts with large corporations, international clientele, and state agencies throughout the county.

Charles Tenney, managing partner of The Tenney Group, based in Arlington, Texas, said in a company press release: “Carrie is a well-recognized business leader in the Raleigh-Durham area and throughout the chauffeured transportation industry. It has been a privilege to help her finish this chapter of life strong. Early on, Gray saw the potential synergies available through a deal with our client. He is a natural fit for Blue Diamond Worldwide, and this is a great deal for everyone involved.”

Information: www.blacktietransportation.net; (877) 304-1594

Related Topics: business deals, business growth, Carrie Peele, Charles Tenney, mergers & acquisitions, North Carolina operators, The Tenney Group

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