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VAN NUYS, Calif. — Flyte Tyme Worldwide Transportation, based in Mahwah, N.J., closed a deal May 14 to open a branch office in Los Angeles and take over the operations of its affiliate partner, RideWell Worldwide Transportation, a high-end chauffeured services provider for clients in the music and entertainment industries of Los Angeles.
The division is based at the Van Nuys Airport in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, one of the most lucrative FBO hubs in the nation with its continuous “Gulfstream” flow of celebrity, entertainment industry, and upper corporate clientele who prefer charter jets to commercial airline service.
Rose, Flyte Tyme’s President and COO, and two of his new business partners, RideWell CEO Robert R. Partovi and executive vice president David M. Flores, sat down for an interview Tuesday about their new venture, in newly moved-in offices. Partovi and Flores each have more than 20 years of experience in the Los Angeles chauffeured transportation market, having worked together at Diva Limousine and at Empire before it merged with CLS.
RideWell, which the two partners founded in 2004, still does business under its own name. It brings about 50 vehicles to Flyte Tyme’s fleet — 25 company-owned sedans, SUVs, Sprinter vans and premium luxury sedans and another 25 Audi vehicles on loan for three years as part of a promotional program by Audi of America Inc. The Audi fleet includes A8, Q7, and W12 models.
In addition to its new Los Angeles division and Mahwah, N.J. headquarters, Flyte Tyme has company-owned fleet operations in Stamford, Conn., Princeton, N.J., and Philadelphia, for a total fleet of 286 vehicles. Before the acquisition, Flyte Tyme was ranked No. 6 on the 2012 LCT 100 Largest Fleets List.
The arrangement with RideWell evolved from its strong affiliate connection with Flyte Tyme; both companies were sending millions of dollars of New York-Los Angeles affiliate business to each other annually. New York and L.A. are two U.S. cities with the strongest mutual entertainment and business connections, resulting in one of the most frequently traveled business routes in the U.S.
Until the deal with RideWell, Los Angeles was the biggest farm-out market for Flyte Tyme. “With RideWell’s high touch, white-glove clientele and [Flyte Tyme’s] high-volume corporate travelers, our services are complementary,” Rose said. “This is a nice value for our portfolio.”
Partovi estimates that 90% of Ride Well’s airport-related clients fly in and out of Van Nuys, and 80% of its business overall is based on hourly rates. RideWell clients reserve vehicles for both business and leisure uses, such us attending events at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, Partovi said. RideWell also arranges seamless, sequential charter jet and chauffeured vehicle service for big-name music performers traveling on concert tours to multiple locations.
Rose emphasized that the new arrangement enhances Flyte Tyme’s ability to offer three tiers of chauffeured service among its company-owned locations and vast global affiliate network: 1) High end service for “A level” executives and VIPs with vehicles such as the Cadillac Escalade and S-Class Mercedes; 2) Standard, B-level executive service in Lincoln Town Car sedans and MKT Town Cars; 3) Black Car C-level service for middle managers and lower executives. Such tiered service levels enable Flyte Tyme to provide a corporation or an organization complete transportation packages for all types of employees and clients.
As part of its tiered services, Flyte Tyme and RideWell retain distinct reservation and dispatch staffs that are trained and geared to the specific tiers and client levels. For example, a RideWell VIP client in Los Angeles needs to be handled differently from a corporate client based out of New York City, Rose explained.
The deal also diversifies the Flyte Tyme’s vehicle fleet, which in the past year has expanded well beyond its Lincoln Town Car tradition. The company earlier this year placed 60 Chrysler 300 Limited sedans — a newcomer to the chauffeured vehicle market rapidly gaining in market share — into its Philadelphia fleet. And it recently bought 40 2013 Lincoln MKT Town Cars for its Stamford, Conn., division.
Rose anticipates the mutual benefits of the new arrangement along with the tiered services and more diverse fleet will double Flyte Tyme’s New York-Los Angeles business volume by 2014. “Each company knows its areas of expertise very well,” said Rose, who plans at least bi-monthly visits to the Van Nuys division. “We each can do what we do best in running a bicoastal business.”
-- Martin Romjue, LCT editor
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