Operations

Young Operator Finds Balance In Merger

Lexi Tucker
Posted on April 18, 2018

Kevin Polite, business development and quality control manager for RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation
Kevin Polite, business development and quality control manager for RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation
ROCKVILLE, Md. — No other industry is as good at forging relationships as the luxury transportation industry; especially when operators work together to make a change.

In June of 2017, Kevin Polite, newly appointed business development and quality control manager for RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation, was one of two operators who showed up to represent Maryland at the NLA Day on the Hill. The other was Robert Alexander, president of RMA.

The two spent the day together fighting for operators in their state while growing closer as colleagues. “We were discussing how to make our operations better, and knew we wanted to partner together doing something…we just weren’t sure what,” Polite says.

Eventually, it became clear that instead of starting something new, they’d do the most good by merging their businesses. Thus, Polite’s Culdesac Chauffeur Service became a part of Alexander’s RMA in early 2018.

Understanding The Struggle

Polite and Alexander started with one car in the beginning of their careers. Each operator brings a different perspective on the industry to the table, but work in tandem to achieve balance. The Culdesac acquisition not only brought on Polite, but all of his staff as well. On top of that, they were all given a promotion, increase in pay, and full health benefits.

“I just turned 30, and being a small operator is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. Now, I have a much larger team and infrastructure, and it’s given me free range to go after new clients. Not only do I have a much better work-life balance…my staff does as well,” Polite says.

Changing Lives

Polite says his biggest success so far has been providing a way to make a living for his staff. “When you are giving someone a job, you don’t always stop and think

An RMA bus in front of the Capitol Building in DC
An RMA bus in front of the Capitol Building in DC
about what that does for a person — it can change their life. The people I hired are family to me. It’s truly moving when I see them in a new car or move from an apartment to a house…you’re providing people with opportunity that affects not only them, but their families as well. That’s my main motivator.”

Miguel Pineda, his senior chauffeur turned full-time dispatcher, recently had a child. Being a chauffeur can be rough because you never know when you’ll have to get up and hit the road. Now he has a set schedule so he can spend time with his daughter.

Sammy McGarity, a reservationist who has been with Polite since he started his company, lost her mother during the first few months of working at Culdesac, but she never stopped taking reservations or took a day off even after Polite told her to take as much time as she needed.  “If I didn’t have the Sammy’s of the world to sacrifice their time, I wouldn’t have made it this far.”

Wild Ride

Polite has had quite the journey leading up to becoming a provider of luxury transportation. He started out in seminary, and three years later, discovered he wasn’t called to be in ministry. He then went to a community college, studied history and English in Cambridge as part of a study abroad program, and then decided he wanted to become a pharmacist. He enrolled in the University of Maryland and studied business with the intent to segway into their pharmacist/JD program.

While at the University of Maryland, his friend suggested they take a limo for

An RMA bus
An RMA bus
Polite’s birthday. “We thought it was the best thing ever in 2009…this was before Uber and Lyft even existed. This was the only way you could go together as a group to go downtown and party,” he explains.

The group split the bill, and it ended up being about $30 a person. Since it was fairly affordable, they started booking a limo one to two times a week. The following New Year’s Eve, the operator told him there’d be a $100 surcharge because it was a holiday.  

The price still only broke down to about $35 a person, so they didn’t mind. At the end of the night, they weren’t charged the extra money because the owner decided it was only right with them being loyal customers. Polite asked his friends if they wanted their money back, and they said no as long as he bought them drinks the next time they went out.

This is what got his wheels spinning. “I just charged the extra $100 every time as a broker fee. This is essentially how I learned to farm out,” he jokes. After posting numerous photos of him and his friends on MySpace (a Facebook precursor of sorts), he’d get tons of inquiries as to who he used. He got introduced to another limousine company with a larger fleet and started Culdesac Promotions to help broker transportation from 2010 to 2012.

In 2013, he officially filed for his limousine and chauffeur license, bought a 2007 Toyota Avalon from one of his family’s used car dealerships, and started doing airport runs.

Learning As You Go Along

Polite says he’s learned to be able to maintain a healthy business, you can’t grow too fast. “Get as much education as possible. Taking advice from people is never a

RMA Chauffeured Transportation 
RMA Chauffeured Transportation 
bad thing; that’s why I love LCT Shows. When else do you have the opportunity to be around that many operators?” he says.

Being able to pivot at any given time is a must when disruptions emerge. Be ready to change with your market, and never make assumptions. “You don’t know everything and there’s not only one way to do something. What works for one in a specific market might not work for you.” Also, be sure to go after your own clients; don’t rely solely on affiliate work.

Moving Forward

RMA has two satellite offices: One near Baltimore–Washington International (BWI) airport and one in Wilmington, Del. “Our future plan is to open more offices to expand beyond the Baltimore-Washington region, provide more careers for people, and remain a leader in the industry,” Polite says. “We have a responsibility to carry ourselves in a certain way because we want to remain as role models for our employees and other operators. We want everyone on staff to be empowered and feel like they are valued no matter their position.”

The company operates 250 vehicles between RMA and its subsidiary business, Orange Taxi, which runs a fleet of about 50 taxis. They run just about every type of luxury fleet vehicle, including sedans, SUVs, and vans, and are heavily investing in the motorcoach and minibus business, which is doubling every year.

“At RMA we hire chauffeurs for all our vehicles, including buses. The chauffeur is the product, not the vehicle, and we have a better product which separates us in both the bus and limousine industries.”

Related Topics: customer service, employee benefits, employee retention, LCTFast40, Maryland operators, mergers & acquisitions, Millennials, operator profiles, RMA, Washington DC operators

Lexi Tucker Associate Editor
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