Team Effort: Family Approach Helps Company Keep Workers

Lexi Tucker
Posted on September 13, 2017

Johnny Donohoe, president of Sterling Limousine & Transportation Services
WRIGHTSTOWN, Pa. — It’s tough out there for an entrepreneur. Many see the business they’ve created as their child, and this, in turn, makes it difficult for them to pass responsibilities on to someone else. Having grown up working for his father’s company, Johnny Donohoe, president of Sterling Limousine & Transportation Services, has since learned that trustworthy staff members are what make or break a business.

College Student No More

Donohoe knew nothing about the industry until his father started Sterling 15 years ago. Johnny was 20 at the time, and acted with the naiveté of a young college student. His father had him start at the ground level washing cars, prepping vehicles, and picking up parts, and he has learned much since then.

“It’s been such an eye opener just managing the people aspect of things, but I’m proud of the family atmosphere we’ve built,” he says. “You have to treat people with respect if you want to gain theirs. In the beginning, I probably handled a few situations incorrectly, but I’ve since learned from the errors I’ve made in the past.”

This attitude towards his employees has resulted in many who have been with the company many years.

Sterling started with only three vehicles and has since grown to about 45, a testament to how Donohoe has used his experience from both sides of the desk to propel the company to success with the help of his team.

Success Isn’t Measured In Money

There are two things Donohoe considers to be big successes. The first was seeing his company pull together to work the Democratic National Convention (DNC) last year.

“We had a record setting week where we did more than we do in most months, sometimes even two,” he says. However, he’s most proud of his team. “I started out wanting to do everything myself and micromanage, but I’ve since come to realize it’s not necessary when you’ve employed good, dependable individuals. They are the reason we are as successful as we are.”

They’ve all taken the reason his father started the company to heart. After retiring from his previous job where he was constantly traveling in the back of a black car, Donohoe’s father experienced countless issues with on-time pickups and consistency. He started his own business to set a new standard for what clients expected from a chauffeured transportation provider. “We try to put more emphasis on the TLC aspect to make sure everything goes according to plan,” Donohoe says.

Sterling’s consists of Lincoln Continentals, BMW 7-Series, Cadillac Escalades, GMC Suburbans, Sprinters, a few stretch limos for retail work, limo buses, a stretch Hummer, and minibuses for corporate, group, and wedding shuttles.

Give Back, Move Forward

Donohoe and staff members have attended LCT-NLA Show East and the International LCT Show for many years, but have never sponsored…until now. They are a Title Sponsor of LCT East this year, and the sole sponsor of Premier Monday at the Borgata. They signed up as a sponsor because over the last five to seven years, they’ve grown their affiliate business to make up about 50% of their runs.

“What better time than now to put our name in front of those who haven’t heard of us?” Donohoe says. “Philadelphia is a large market and there are a lot of services using affiliates, but it’s always good to have a secondary or a backup if another company isn’t up to your standards. We also just want to give back to the industry.”

In addition to taking new approaches in advertising, Donohoe is getting ready to break ground on a new 35,000 square foot office, complete with a warehouse for vehicle storage and maintenance bays. It’s been in the works for a while, and the project will officially begin in about three to four weeks. “We have big aspirations and are fully committed to growing this business. We hope to be around for a long time to come.”

Related Topics: company culture, customer service, employee management, Harrah's, industry education, industry events, LCT-NLA Show East, Pennsylvania operators, staff management

Lexi Tucker Senior Editor
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