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Steve Karrer, head of business development for PLATROS, a company that creates innovative products and services for the transportation industry, wanted to develop a device that would help limo companies take advantage of the oft-unused seatback pocket and turn it into an instant amenity bar.
The invention was a curiosity draw on the trade show floor of LCT East in Atlantic City, as Karrer showed how it fit into the back of the right front seat of a 2017 Lincoln Continental.
Simple Stands Out
The Limo Caddy fits seamlessly into any vehicle’s seatback pocket and transitions it into an amenity bar. Chauffeurs can then offer their clients refreshments like bottles of water, soda, bags of nuts, granola bars, mints, or chocolate. It can also be crafted to include slots for business cards, cell phones, chargers, hand sanitizer, and marketing materials.
Karrer first came up with the idea when he started working as a part-time, weekend chauffeur for TEVAS Chauffeured Transportation in February 2016. Within the second week of driving, he developed a broad concept of the product, and says he wanted to elevate the level of service for clients and give them more of a first class experience.
He put a prototype in his vehicle by the end of March, and clients loved it. “Even the prototype, which is pretty embarrassing in retrospect compared to what we have today, was met with a great reception from the first moment it was in the car,” Karrer says. “The passengers felt very special and commented on how I was going beyond the call of duty. From the first day I thought it was something that had a lot of potential.”
The first company PLATROS approached with a beta trial was Leros Point to Point in Valhalla, N.Y. “Customers have been really impressed,” President Jeff Nyikos says. “It’s a great way for us to differentiate ourselves from the competition.”
Karrer is also talking with three of the top 20 luxury ground transportation companies in the country who have shown interest. The LCT-NLA Show East provided him with ample leads, and operators were impressed getting to see the device in a few vehicles in person rather than just online.
Chauffeur Turned Inventor
Karrer partnered up with TEVAS owner and Managing Director of PLATROS Jeffrey Cartagena to bring the product to market. The company’s name is derived from the words platinum (referring to the level of service) and pros (short for professionals), reflecting their desire to create products to enhance customers’ experience and company reputation. As members of the luxury ground transportation industry, the two live their slogan, “Show them how much you care.”
“I was in business development for many companies over the years, and I used to work in New York a lot. I had the opportunity to experience that level of service you only get from a five-star business,” Karrer says.
“When I first came back to the US from living in Europe, I got to fly first class; that’s what really put me over. The first class experience in an airplane is really unlike anything else. They provided me with a little kit that had everything I could possibly need in one place, and I didn’t have to bother anyone to get it.”
Wanting to replicate this experience for his passengers on the ground, Karrer started brainstorming ways he could make this vision a reality. As with many other companies, TEVAS offered bottled water in the center consoles of their vehicles, but Karrer wanted to do it in style.
“Some people put a cup of mints in the cup holder, but I didn’t think it looked nice. I don’t think cars were really designed for presenting items…just kind of holding them. I ran into a lot of trouble with water bottles rattling and it would disturb clients. People would come in with coffee and have nowhere to put it without moving the water bottles out of their way,” he says. Thus, the Limo Caddy.
Crafting For Quality
Looking for a way to offer amenities in an elegant manner, Karrer experimented with different materials. Eventually, he decided to craft the core of the device out of poly foam, which provides stability and keeps it from tilting or wobbling while on the road. The base is wrapped in a high-quality, durable faux leather, so companies don’t have to worry about upkeep. The top is made from real wood veneer, which is stained to a company’s requirements. This is then coated in a plant-based, odorless epoxy coating similar to that used on yacht bar coverings for a nice finish.
The device is molded to fit specific makes and models of vehicles. “Each car has its own Limo Caddy that’s specific for that vehicle, including year; we have a design made to match the contour of the width and depth of the back of the seat,” Karrer explains. They have molds for the 10 most common livery vehicles, and most vehicles don’t change their backseat pockets for at least three years.
All Limo Caddies are made in the U.S. and cost about $100, with bulk discounts starting at 20 units.
In the near future, Karrer says the company is looking to market the Limo Caddy to the general public as the “Seat Caddy.” They’ll also be offering branded items like water, almonds, and walnuts for the Limo Caddy as well.
PLATROS also has a device dubbed the “Vent Caddy” in the works, which Karrer invented when he was looking for a way to quickly cool drinks without ice. He came up with the original idea when he discovered holding a bottle up to the AC vent of a vehicle could turn a 103 degree bottle of water down to ice cold in 20 minutes. He then worked to develop a device that maximizes the vent air flow and cools the water bottle much faster and more efficiently.
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