Was the reaction too harsh? Or an important part of what is supposed to set luxury transportation providers apart from TNC drivers?
GLENDALE, Calif. — Barbara Papp, an industry fixture who sold thousands of Lincoln Town Cars to limousine operators in California and beyond since 1971, closed her last Town Car sale last week as she plans to retire by the end of the quarter.
Papp has worked in vehicle sales for 41 years, including 22 years as an exclusive limousine vehicle dealer for Lincoln-Ford-Mercury dealerships. Papp, who most recently has run the commercial livery sales division with her husband, Patrick, at Star Ford Lincoln in Glendale, sold a total of 20,904 vehicles in her career, with 98% of them Lincoln or Mercury vehicles, and 2% of them Fords. She first initiated Lincoln livery vehicle sales in the Western Region in 1990 at Don Kott Lincoln-Mercury in Carson, Calif.
Papp, age 74, told LCT that the end of production for the Lincoln Town Car Executive L was the logical time to retire. The last 2011 models are being sold and delivered as livery Lincoln dealers nationwide are transitioning this quarter to selling the successor to the Town Car, the 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Car. Patrick Papp, 78, who has worked with her in vehicle sales since 2006, also is retiring.
“It has been very fulfilling to me over the years to have been able to be the source of supply to so many successful businesses with not only their vehicles but also having the expertise in completing all of their DMV and PUC necessities,” Papp told LCT.
Papp, known affectionately to everyone in the California limousine industry as “Barb,” also has been a loyal member and supporter of the Greater California Livery Association where she served as a vendor director and hardly ever missed a meeting.
“I have been a board member of the GCLA since its inception back in the late 1980s when John Chester was president,” Papp recalled. “We held our monthly board meetings in the conference room at Don Kott where pizza and beverages were supplied by the dealership. The GCLA put me in charge of selling raffle tickets in those days. It was always fun collecting money for the GCLA cause.”
Barb knew how to charm and keep customers with her enthusiastic, smiling, cheerful demeanor that complements a sharp, perceptive, no-nonsense business approach. She was never shy about promoting her products and services, and everyone knew that Barb could see right through you, so you had better always come clean and play it straight with the grand “Iron Lady” of limo vehicle sales.
“I think Barbara Papp definitely set the mark for being in the elite group of sales producers of Lincolns and Mercury vehicles in the California livery market,” said GCLA President Mark Stewart. “I want to thank her for all of the contributions she made to the California livery industry, being a supportive member and board member of the GCLA. Her dedication and professionalism to this industry set a standard with the highest regard for her customers. With her signature smile, personality and always dressed immaculately, I’m sorry to say she will be sadly missed by all of us in the limousine community.”
Customers and industry colleagues fondly recall working with someone who could best be described as a sales dynamo.
“Another industry icon retires!” said Chris Hundley, owner and CEO of Limousine Connection in North Hollywood, Calif. “First the Town Car, now Barbara Papp. Hmmm. Barbara and Cher both don’t know how to retire, so we’ll see. I have bought cars from Barbara for many years and have stayed loyal to her wherever she was. She has boundless energy, is always on top of her game, and knows how to make [everything] happen. I will miss Barbara and Patrick, but am glad to have been able to deal with them numerous times.”
Jonna Sabroff, the president of Integrated Transportation Services (ITS) in Los Angeles and a former executive vice president of the GCLA, said she first met Barb in the early 1990s when she sold vehicles at Don Kott.
“Barb was a dynamo,” Sabroff said. “She provided ‘one-stop’ shopping for her customers. She not only sold you vehicles but could find the financing and commercial insurance. Barb also helped companies deal with the complicated maze of state and airport registration requirements for livery vehicles. She was always long on service. No customer was too large or too small. She found time to help everyone who needed it.”
Among the more notable achievements in Barb’s career is getting Krystal Koach, now Krystal Enterprises, as one of her first major accounts. Barb sold Krystal founder and CEO Ed Grech his first Lincoln Town Car in 1983 that he cut and stretched into a limousine.
A local newspaper article around that time reports that the dealership where Barb worked, Performance Lincoln Mercury in Sepulveda, Calif., ranked No. 1 in luxury vehicle sales in California and 33rd nationwide. At that time, Lincoln Mark VIIs and Continentals were considered in the luxury car category.
The article states, “According to Marv Smith, president of Performance Lincoln Mercury, credit for the dealership’s standing goes to fleet manager Barbara Papp and general sales manager Mike Barber. Papp runs the fleet department, selling luxury cars to individuals and corporations on a national scale.”
Papp will be succeeded at Star Ford Lincoln by veteran limousine industry salesman Vinnie De La Pena, formerly of Krystal Enterprises in Brea, Calif., the leading limousine manufacturer and seller in the world. Star Ford-Lincoln is located at 900 South Brand Blvd. in Glendale; (818) 247-2626.
— Martin Romjue, LCT editor
Metropolitan Airport News sat down to get to know the LCT Gold Star People's Choice Award winner.
The GCLA is urging legislators to heed the warnings of concerned groups and local governments.
FEB. LCT: Corporate Coach Charter started three decades ago running buses with an approach full of potential.
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.
eNews Exclusive: Natalie Brown has grown significantly over the years and has proudly served her company by enhancing its business relationships.
Jon Taffer and Michael Dominguez are ready to help you up your customer service game.
VIDEO: Industry association leaders Douglas Schwartz and Kevin Barwell promote the safe, legal use of chauffeured luxury vehicles.
Operators Douglas Schwartz of the Long Island Transportation Association and Kevin Barwell of the Limousine Bus Taxi Operators of Upstate New York went to Albany, N.Y. on Jan. 30, 2019 to speak before the Joint Legislative Public Hearing on the 2019-2020 Executive Budget to oppose a proposal to ban modified stretch limousines in the state of New York.
FEB LCT Publisher's Page: There's no better place to spend time and money on growing your business.
FEB. LCT: Cecil Marrow has learned to adapt in an ever-changing market without losing his classic personal touch.
There's something different every year; don't miss out on this incredible experience.
The annual Greater California Livery Association’s lobbying event can lead to fewer regulations for charter party carriers.
The leading hot button issue of the driver shortage spurred some lively discussions at the annual trade show.
Nine days are left to apply for the most coveted recognition guaranteed to raise your profile and boost your reputation.
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.