Detroit Limo Business Sees Upswing In Leisure Clients

Posted on May 2, 2012

By The Detroit News

DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Mich. — Pat Mifsud, owner of Entertainment Express, bet the purchase of four party buses that business will rev up in May and June, cruising through the rest of the year.

The company located here has high hopes for growth after a mishap last year. It wants to tap into an improving economy and projections of a resurgence in the chauffeured transportation industry.

"With more people feeling safe in their jobs, they are more inclined to spend money on a concert or a night on the town in a chauffeured vehicle," said Mifsud, 48.

A growing number of clients seek party buses that carry eight to 40 passengers, he said. Some vehicles have a lighted dance floor, flat screen televisions, laser light shows and an "entertainment pole" for dancing.

"People want to stand up and move around," Mifsud said. "They hang together when they ride as a group. It is more fun for everyone."

The limo business nationwide is geared for an upswing. Martin Romjue, editor of Limousine Charter and Tour Magazine in Los Angeles, said more than 2,500 venders came to the magazine's trade show and expo in January. Many participants told the magazine they are adding operators and seeing an increase in business.

After three lean years, Mifsud expects to generate $1 million in sales this year, which he hopes will help offset the cost of four new vehicles and the annual $150,000 expense of insurance.

Entertainment Express still hasn't dug out from a July 7, 2011, fire that did $500,000 worth of damage and wiped out several limos. Mifsud operates the company out of a rented trailer devoid of the executive trappings found in his limos. He supplements his business by selling concert and sport tickets.

But the earlier-than-usual arrival of spring has provided a boost. Spring is when celebrations abound, including proms, weddings, graduations, and bachelor and bachelorette parties (your choice of black or hot pink buses). Seniors often select the red trolley with retro seats for trips to a casino or lunch in Frankenmuth, Mifsud said.

Then there are the sports outings. This week his driver took Grosse Isle entrepreneur Will Evans to the Red Wings playoff game in a stretch 1957 Chevy.

"I enjoy the camaraderie of a limousine," said Evans, owner of Shopping Savvy Magazine. "We concentrate on our conversations. We get door-to-door service. By the time we leave our seats at Joe Louis (Arena), the limo is sitting there waiting for us."

The biggest lure of limousines is having a driver while passengers enjoy their cocktails, Mifsud said. The same inebriating beverages present the biggest risk to the business, he said.

Drivers now collect the fare before the vehicle takes off so people don't run out of money during their night on the town.

Mifsud began his business in the spring of his junior year at Cody High School in Detroit. He landed tickets to a Van Halen concert and bragged all over school. He was offered double the cost, and a business idea germinated. He purchased tickets to sell-out shows and arranged deals on transportation.

After eight years and a surge in business, Mifsud bought his own fleet of vehicles for quality and cost control. Business depends on and expands with loyal customers like Evans.

"All of Entertainment Express vehicles are roomy, comfortable and clean," Evans said. "No matter what engagement I have, Pat Mifsud has a vehicle to entertain us with."

Original Detroit News article and photo here.

Related Topics: economic recovery, Michigan operators, retail markets

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