Here are some sights and scenes from one wicked cool tradeshow.
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — In February 2011, about 20 minority operators gathered informally for an early breakfast at the International LCT Show to talk about common interests and goals. Exactly one year later at the same Show, the group’s hospitality suite party could barely contain attendees, with many spilling out into the hallway.
For the Minority Limousine Operators of America, the first year has attracted a lot of interest throughout the chauffeured transportation industry and brought it momentum and clout. Open to any industry member of any ethnic heritage, the association now has 57 paid operator members, five vendor members, its first two international members, a slate of officers and committees, and official recognition from the National Limousine Association.
The group has positioned itself as a networking and educational complement to the NLA and a long list of state and regional industry associations. One of its specialties is to help educate and connect members interested in getting minority-owned- and/or women-owned-certified ground transportation contracts from businesses and government agencies.
To that end, the MLOA is working to set the date of its first seminar, a day-long event that will be held in a hotel conference room near Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport. The MLOA plans to host a shuttle service so attendees could easily fly in and out and get to the seminar all within a day, said Maurice Brewster, the president and founder of the MLOA.
One of the MLOA’s vendor sponsors, Tom Mazza & Associates, will establish and conduct the seminar program. Tom Mazza, a leading chauffeured transportation consultant, chauffeur trainer, and business broker known for his operator roundtable groups, will have his firm’s senior consultant, Dr. Yvonne LaMar, conduct the seminar. Tentative topics include how to be a better business owner/operator, following standard practices within the limo industry, and attracting affiliate work from larger operators, Brewster said.
“We introduced education as a key ingredient to what I’m promising our members,” he said. “We want smarter, brighter, more educated operators as members of the MLOA.”
Another key goal for 2012 is to help members get certified by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
“Whether to become certified as a minority- or woman-owned company, they have an option to see what works best,” Brewster said. “Some choose the women route or minority route, depending on which organization serves them best. As we continue to win contracts, we will count minority dollars spent with key vendors so we can report that we are farming business out to minority businesses in our network.”
The MLOA also welcomes its first two international members, who signed up at the 2012 International LCT Show: Giso Dietl, CEO of Limo X Chauffeur Service in Dreieich, Germany, and Yoalli Garcia of Godandi and Sons Inc. VIP Transportation in Mexico City.
The MLOA plans monthly conference call meetings of its members and any interested guests on the last Friday of each month. The next meeting will be held Friday, April 27 at 1 p.m. EDT/10 a.m. PDT. Participants should call (712) 432-0900 and hit passcode: 983716#.
The MLOA plans two permanent face-to-face general membership meetings each calendar year that will be scheduled during the annual International LCT Show in Las Vegas and Limo Digest Show in Atlantic City, N.J.
Related LCT article: MLOA Sets Goals To Support Industry
Related LCT article: Minority Operators Seal Support For New Industry Group
SIDEBAR: MLOA President Tests Chrysler 300 Limited
SAN FRANCISCO — Operator Maurice Brewster recently drew some favorable conclusions after testing a Chrysler 300 Limited sedan in the fleet of his company, Mosaic Global Transportation.
His test of the 300 coincided with a presentation during the March 23 conference call meeting of the Minority Limousine Operators of America from David Bastian of Towne Livery in Orchard Park, N.Y. Bastian, a Lincoln and Chrysler limo vehicle dealer, explained to members some of the deals and rates available from Chrysler Corp. as the automaker reintroduces the luxury sedan to the chauffeured transportation market. Towne Livery is an official vendor member of the MLOA.
“They are willing to replicate that with the MLOA, and introduce us to some favorable pricing and programs that they are rolling out,” Brewster said.
Brewster tested a 300 in his fleet for two weeks that was brought by a regional vice president from Chrysler. He was so impressed that he ordered and bought one for his fleet, along with two 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Cars. “We’re in play for about 15-20 MKTs and SUVs” to replace the retiring Lincoln Town Car Executive L sedans, he added.
Mosaic plans to do a side-by-side test among his clients of the MKT Town Car and 300 Limited. Brewster envisions an eventual fleet mix that is about evenly split between MKTs and 300s. “You can’t beat the price point of the 300,” said Brewster of the approximate $32,000 price tag. “You get one and a half cars for the price of one 300” when comparing vehicle and fuel costs, he said. With estimated 31 mpg on the highway, the 300 has the potential to save money on fuel costs. “As a business owner watching the bottom line, that’s something you can’t pass up.”
Brewster also liked the fact that Chrysler appears willing to make some minor improvements in the 300 Limited for the 2013 model year. “I thought there should be more luxury in the backseat like there is in the front seat. The suspension felt a little stiff. Those were the two critical feedbacks that I gave them when they visited us. It needs more comfort and controls in the backseat, and more cushion and luxury. It’s not pillowy enough. With more controls, it could be similar to what the MKT Town Car has in the back.”
Related LCT article: CA Limo Operator Tests 300 Sedan
Related LCT article: Chrysler 300 Luxury Sedan Returns To Limo Market
— Martin Romjue, LCT editor
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