People

Jay David Okon, Owner Of BLS Limousine, 1948-2018

Posted on March 21, 2018
Jay David Okon, owner and CEO of BLS Limousine of New York (photo courtesy of Okon family)
Jay David Okon, owner and CEO of BLS Limousine of New York (photo courtesy of Okon family)

Jay David Okon, CEO and founder of BLS Limousine Service Worldwide and JDO Leasing died on Feb. 2, 2018 after a long battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). He was 69.

Known by his middle name, David was born in Poland in 1948. Okon moved to America in 1970 with little more than $200 in his pocket. He learned English by watching television and doing word puzzles. He worked in a factory and eventually bought his first limo, a 1969 Cadillac, to earn money to buy an engagement ring for his future wife, Phyllis.

He fixed the four-year-old car and within a year landed a steady client who paid him a weekly retainer to drive him to Manhattan. This client taught him the fine nuances of being a professional chauffeur, and during weekends he would supplement income with weddings and proms. The company was called Four Star Limousine.

By the time they married in 1977, they had two cars and a steady wedding business. In 1978, Okon was approached by an operator on the West Coast who needed an affiliate in New York.

Los Angeles-based BLS Limousine booked their New York work exclusively with Okon. Within four years, Okon's fleet grew to six cars and he changed his company's name to BLS of New York. Thus began a forty year relationship with the entertainment industry. The owners of the LA operation eventually closed, and the Okon's entered a new partnership with a small limo service buying them out in the late 90s.

Today, BLS Limousine has four offices, that including three dispatch centers in Astoria, New York, Los Angeles, California, Las Vegas, Nevada, and corporate headquarters in Hicksville, New York. They employ hundreds of people and run a large fleet. They also have an affiliate network allowing clients to book worldwide.

"In everything he did, he never did not pay a debt, or stick anybody," his wife, Phyllis Okon, told LCT recently. "He helped so many people, especially people in trouble. He would go out of his way to hire people who maybe made mistakes in life. He gave them a new home and trusted them."

Phyllis Okon said her husband was a very private man who shied away from publicity, but cultivated many friends and loyal associates over his lifetime.  

Okon was an experienced mechanic and never met a car he didn't like. He made innovative changes to both the engine and interior that included one of the first bars and television sets to be included in the back of a standard limousine. He built them himself. He repaired cars and was eager to try new vehicles in the fleet. Okon understood the importance of service and valued his client's input, changing the livery industry as it grew. He embraced technology and was one of the first multi-city operators to have a centralized back office system.

Okon broke barriers in the business by implementing benefits in an industry that usually didn't offer those things for chauffeurs. He insisted that chauffeurs be paid from the moment they came in until they finished their shift, rather than only when they were "rolling," a sharp departure from the standard of the time. He was a firm believer in giving a person a second chance and employed many people others often refused to give a job.
He was never more pleased to help people get back on their feet. He considered it a victory for both himself and the community when one of his employees got married, had children, or bought a home. His office in Astoria, Queens was covered with pictures of the many children of the people he worked with.

He was diagnosed with lung cancer 14 years ago but beat it at that time, Phyllis Okon told LCT.

BLS is a family business and Okon's two sons, Michael and Eric, have worked beside him and his wife for over 20 years. He leaves behind his wife of 41 years, Phyllis, his sons, daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren.

Source: Okon family / BLS Limousine

Related Topics: deaths, memorial, New York operators, obituary

Comments ( 12 )
  • Melissa

     | about 4 months ago

    May he Rest In Peace. David was an amazing man and definitely gave my family that second chance. My father and our family had a rough past and David definitely believed in my father. This man truly cared about others and did his best to make the world a better place. Our family will always be forever grateful to him and the BLS family for the opportunities given to my father. Heaven truly gained an angel and he will be missed dearly. On behalf of the Garica-Manzanarez, we send our deepest condolences to the Okon and BLS family.

  • See all comments
More Stories
Video

Towne Livery 2018 LCT East Lincoln Promo Video

Towne Livery releases a promotional video tied in to the Old West-style "On The Road To Success" theme of the LCT-NLA Show East in Atlantic City, N.J., Nov. 4-6, 2018. Check out the smart shootout.