Regulations

GCLA President Mark Stewart Signs Off On A Stellar Stint

Posted on December 11, 2013
GCLA President Mark Stewart (2010-2013) was recognized by the GCLA on Dec. 10, 2013 for his service to the organization during its annual holiday party at The Proud Bird restaurant in Los Angeles.

GCLA President Mark Stewart (2010-2013) was recognized by the GCLA on Dec. 10, 2013 for his service to the organization during its annual holiday party at The Proud Bird restaurant in Los Angeles.

GCLA President Mark Stewart (2010-2013) was recognized by the GCLA on Dec. 10, 2013 for his service to the organization during its annual holiday party at The Proud Bird restaurant in Los Angeles.
GCLA President Mark Stewart (2010-2013) was recognized by the GCLA on Dec. 10, 2013 for his service to the organization during its annual holiday party at The Proud Bird restaurant in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES — The Greater California Livery Association holiday party and general meeting Tuesday night had the usual fanfare and feel of an end-of-year celebration. There were plenty of food, drinks, desserts, gift giveaways, well wishes, lots of red, a big cake, and the Christmas tree in the corner.

But this year’s party, attended by more than 190 members and guests, served as a graduation of sorts, and a reminder that a distinct period for the GCLA is coming to a close. It was the last party at The Proud Bird restaurant, site of Los Angeles meetings for the last eight years, and the last night President Mark Stewart ran the show.

Stewart’s three years as President spans the most successful chapter in the history of the organization, founded in 1989. During his leadership, paid membership in the GCLA soared from about 135 in December 2010, when Stewart was elected President, to 306 as of Tuesday, a record high for the group. Fundraising reached new heights, propelled by the momentum of the annual GCLA Expo, the largest association gathering and vehicle and vendor event outside of a national trade show, and an annual poker night fundraiser. Stewart announced that the third-annual poker night on Nov. 9 at SoCal Penske Cadillac in Torrance raised $16,500.

The GCLA made big strides in the last three years warding off harmful regulations and staying vigilant on pending legislation and rules. It maintained a professional roster of attorneys, lobbyists and consultants to provide the expertise needed to guide limousine interests in the ever-complex regulatory and economic atmosphere of California, the state that ranks highest in number of limo operators.

Stewart and a supportive board of directors devoted countless hours, organizing and setting up events, and traveling to Sacramento and San Francisco to deal with the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates the state’s limousine industry.

“I felt like I had a full time job with the GCLA,” said Stewart, whose real full time job is as operations manager at CLI Worldwide Transportation in Orange County, Calif., headed by operator Joe Magnano. “I want to thank Joe for being such a good boss.”

Board director and GCLA 1st Vice President Rich Azzolino, a San Francisco operator who also serves on the NLA board of directors, presented Stewart with a President’s Award for his outstanding commitment and service as GCLA President from 2010 to 2013.

“I worked alongside Mark Stewart, and I can’t tell you how much we will miss him,” Azzolino said. “He put in a lot of hard work, day in and day out. He has his heart in this organization. There are big shoes to fill.”

In addition to the membership, Expo and poker fundraiser, Stewart briefly listed the GCLA’s advancements and accomplishments in the last few years: An upgraded website, labor law seminars for operators, Town Hall meetings of members and expanded meetings in Northern California, and more vendor sponsorship and involvement.

The GCLA's annual holiday event drew 190 members and guests at The Proud Bird restaurant in Los Angeles. It was the last GCLA event to be held at the historic aviation-themed restaurant, which is closing at the end of the year.
The GCLA's annual holiday event drew 190 members and guests at The Proud Bird restaurant in Los Angeles. It was the last GCLA event to be held at the historic aviation-themed restaurant, which is closing at the end of the year.

Stewart’s recognition culminated an evening of awards and served as a review of everyone who works on behalf of the GCLA. Stewart spent much of his time coordinating with the hired professionals behind the scenes who brought their strategic savvy to pursuing association goals and agendas. Those who were recognized last night with the GCLA Award of Excellence:

Other recipients of the Award of Excellence were Los Angeles area limousine companies whose operators helped, supported and advised the GCLA in various ways:

  • Music Express (Perry Barin and Cheryl Berkman)
  • Diva Limousine LTD (Bijan Zougi)
  • Empire CLS Worldwide Chauffeured Services (David Seelinger)
  • Integrated Transportation Services Inc. (Jonna Sabroff)

GCLA vendor members recognized with the award for their generous financial and organizational support included:

  •  A.J. Thurber, Don Brown Bus Sales
  • Phil Hartz, SoCal Penske Cadillac
  • Roy Durham, SoCal Penske
  • Lee Martinez, Transcap Insurance
  • Steve Wood, South Bay Ford and Ford Fleet & Livery Vehicles
  • Jeff Brodsly, Chosen Payments
Chosen Payments CEO Jeff Brodsly presented a symbolic check for $4,061.33, which is the total amount Chosen Payments has donated to the GCLA in 2013 based on a percentage of business revenue from GCLA members.
Chosen Payments CEO Jeff Brodsly presented a symbolic check for $4,061.33, which is the total amount Chosen Payments has donated to the GCLA in 2013 based on a percentage of business revenue from GCLA members.

Brodsly and Chosen Payments were complimented for their strong financial support, after only one year as a vendor supporter of the GCLA. Brodsly presented a large symbolic check for $4,061.33, which is the total amount Chosen Payments has donated to the GCLA in 2013 based on a percentage of business revenue from GCLA members who have their credit card transactions processed through Chosen Payments.

Martinez announced a new affinity program between Transcap Insurance/ Philadelphia Insurance Companies and the GCLA. The program will donate to the GCLA 1.5% of the value of all paid premiums written to GCLA members during 2014.

Bill Wheeler, owner of Black Tie Transportation of Pleasanton, Calif., contributed $2,500 to the GCLA Lobbyist Fund.

As is standard at GCLA holiday events, it is the time of year when new members come on to the board and others step down. Outgoing members who received a GCLA Certificate of Appreciation included operators: Deena Papagni, Marc Sievers and Scott Ruge.

A GCLA Lifetime Achievement Award went to longtime board director Steve Levin of Sterling Rose Transportation in Escondido and Temecula, for his “outstanding contribution of time, effort and leadership put forth in furthering the livery industry in California.”

Finally, the GCLA announced its 15-member Board of Directors elected by members recently for the 2014 term. The board will meet Dec. 19 to elect new officers, including a President. Members represent all major areas of the state:

  • Chris Quinn (CTS, Sacramento)
  • David Kinney (API Limousine, Sacramento)
  • Rich Azzolino (Gateway Limousines Worldwide, Burlingame)
  • Gary Buffo (Pure Luxury Transportation, Petaluma)
  • John Raftery (Executive Limousine & Coach, Ventura)
  • Alex Darbahani (KLS Transportation Services, Beverly Hills)
  • Perry Barin (Music Express, Burbank)
  • Jack Nissim (ITS, Los Angeles)
  • Kevin Illingworth (Classique Limousines, Orange)
  • Matt Strack (Strack Transportation, Costa Mesa)
  • Anne Daniells (Torrey Pines Transportation, San Diego)
  • Ryan Silva (Epic Transportation, San Diego)
  • Lee Martinez (Transcap Insurance)
  • Steve Wood (South Bay Ford)
  • Roy Durham (SoCal Penske)

—    Martin Romjue, LCT editor
 

Related Topics: California operators, Chosen Payments, GCLA, Greater California Livery Association, limo associations, Mark Stewart, Rich Azzolino

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