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Grand Giveaways For Charity Break Industry Records

Martin Romjue
Posted on November 17, 2016

(L to R): LCT Publisher Sara Eastwood-Richardson, Windy City Limousine CEO George Jacobs, Ford/Lincoln Limousine & Livery Vehicles manager Craig Hall, Commonwealth Worldwide CEO Dawson Rutter, and NLA Charity Committee Co-Chairs Robert Alexander and Ron Stein celebrate the CEO face-off that raised a record amount for an industry charity auction (photo by LCT)
(L to R): LCT Publisher Sara Eastwood-Richardson, Windy City Limousine CEO George Jacobs, Ford/Lincoln Limousine & Livery Vehicles manager Craig Hall, Commonwealth Worldwide CEO Dawson Rutter, and NLA Charity Committee Co-Chairs Robert Alexander and Ron Stein celebrate the CEO face-off that raised a record amount for an industry charity auction (photo by LCT)
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Stir up two industry titans, throw in a 2017 Lincoln-Continental, and you get an auction-turned-gladiator match.

That was the scene at Harrah’s Atlantic City on Nov. 14 when two CEOs, each with more than 30 years of experience running top limousine companies, tried to outbid and one-up each other at a National Limousine Association charity auction event being held for the group’s Harold Berkman Memorial Fund, the industry’s philanthropic arm that donates to a variety of charities. The auction was held during the annual LCT People’s Choice Awards at the annual LCT-NLA Show East.

Jacobs and Rutter (in white Continental caps) each pledged $72,000 to the NLA's philanthropic arm, the Harold Berkman Memorial Fund, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, Harrah's Atlantic City, (photo by LCT)
Jacobs and Rutter (in white Continental caps) each pledged $72,000 to the NLA's philanthropic arm, the Harold Berkman Memorial Fund, Monday, Nov. 14, 2016, Harrah's Atlantic City, (photo by LCT)
Dawson Rutter, founder and CEO of Commonwealth Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation in Boston, and his friendly rival George Jacobs, founder and CEO of Windy City Limousine in Chicago, vied for a 2017 Lincoln Continental sedan donated by Ford/Lincoln Limousine & Livery Vehicles. The Continental has become the most coveted and talked-about livery luxury car of the moment since its rollout to limousine operators in September.

Rutter and George, along with several other operators, leaped into the auction ring for the Continental, which was set at a minimum bid of $45,000. After all the bidders shouted out incremental bids of $500 or $1,000, the two industry leaders raised the stakes on the $51,000 MSRP vehicle to $72,000. Their high bids were in part spurred by the prospect of an LCT cover feature article, thrown-in as a further enticement by LCT Publisher and Show Chairwoman Sara Eastwood-Richardson.

The friendly rivals once bidded against each other in an auction many years ago. Both formed limousine companies during the 1980s and have served in multiple industry leadership roles, including terms on the NLA Board of Directors (photo by LCT)
The friendly rivals once bidded against each other in an auction many years ago. Both formed limousine companies during the 1980s and have served in multiple industry leadership roles, including terms on the NLA Board of Directors (photo by LCT)
After huddling a few minutes, the pair decided to split — and double — the difference. Each pledged to donate $72,000 after Ford/Lincoln Limousine & Livery Vehicles made a second sedan available, for sale. So each CEO gets a car. The donated Continental nets a full $72,000 for the Berkman Fund, while the second sold one nets the amount leftover after the cost of the vehicle is factored out.

The auction followed another unprecedented charity moment for the 31-year-old association: Its Berkman Fund donated a total of $90,000 — $30,000 each — to three charities: St. Jude’s Children's Hospital, Fisher House Foundation, and City of Hope.

To see a video from the event on the LCT Facebook page, click here.

"Being on Charity conference calls monthly, it's just amazing for me to see this committee's work pay off with the largest success ever at this year's LCT/NLA East,” NLA President Gary Buffo said. “I've been going to shows for 23 years, and have never witnessed the excitement and passion our members gave this year. Robert Alexander and Ron Stein (co-Chairs), coupled with Ford Motor Company, and their new amazing Lincoln Continental, absolutely catapulted this year's auction to new heights. This was the most fun and exciting show event I've ever been to.”

Hall, Stein, and Alexander announced $30,000 donations to three key industry charities, including St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, Fisher House Foundation, and City of Hope. Representatives from each charity spoke to the gala crowd following the LCT People's Choice Awards and showed videos detailing the organizations' efforts. (photos by LCT)
Hall, Stein, and Alexander announced $30,000 donations to three key industry charities, including St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, Fisher House Foundation, and City of Hope. Representatives from each charity spoke to the gala crowd following the LCT People's Choice Awards and showed videos detailing the organizations' efforts. (photos by LCT)
The auction and charity donations evolved from the NLA’s Charity Committee headed by board directors Robert Alexander, CEO of RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation in Bethesda, MD, and Ron Stein, founder and CEO of Exclusive Sedan Service in North Hollywood, CA. Ford/Lincoln had donated record amounts to the NLA and the Berkman Fund during the 2016 and 2015 International LCT Shows ($45,000/$39,000), and then identical donations in those amounts to the NLA itself for legislative, lobbying, and public relations efforts.

“I could not be more proud of the entire charity committee,” Alexander said. “The way we work together to come up with unique and creative ways to raise money for these deserving charities is incredible. We have given away an unprecedented amount of money over the last five years, in large part due to the unparalleled support of Craig Hall (livery program manager) and the Ford Motor company. Their unwavering commitment to the NLA and the Harold Berkman fund is quite special and greatly appreciated. Last but not least a big Thank You to George Jacobs and Dawson Rutter for their extreme generosity and making the auction so much fun!”

Stein thanked NLA charity committee members Tami Saccoccio, Melanie Barcena, Kevin Illingworth, and Billy Placier for coordinating and promoting much of the committee’s work. “It was the full committee that chose this year’s recipients for $30,000 each, the Fisher House, City of Hope and St. Jude’s Hospital. I am honored to co-chair with Robert Alexander who leads us by generous and creative example. We could not have accomplished any of this without the generosity of Craig Hall and Ford Motor Company.”

The coveted source of the auction rivalry: A 2017 Lincoln Continental, one of the most popular luxury livery sedans since the Lincoln Town Car Executive L. (photo by LCT)
The coveted source of the auction rivalry: A 2017 Lincoln Continental, one of the most popular luxury livery sedans since the Lincoln Town Car Executive L. (photo by LCT)

Related Topics: Atlantic city, charity, Craig Hall, Dawson Rutter, donations, Ford, fundraiser, Gary Buffo, George Jacobs, Harold Berkman Memorial Fund, industry charity, LCT-NLA Show East, Lincoln Limousine & Livery Vehicles, Lincoln-Continental, National Limousine Association, Robert Alexander, Ron Stein, Sara Eastwood-Richardson

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