New Carey CEO Promotes Safety As Strong Selling Point

Martin Romjue
Posted on September 12, 2018
Sandy Miller, new CEO of Carey International (photo: Basin Street Partners)

Sandy Miller, new CEO of Carey International (photo: Basin Street Partners)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Safety is the number one marketing tool at Carey International, says its new CEO, Sandy Miller, as he takes the reins at one of the largest luxury chauffeured transportation networks worldwide.

In an interview with LCT on Sept. 12, the veteran rental car and investment capital executive outlined his approach to keeping Carey competitive in a disrupted and demanding ground transportation market.

“Every time Carey travelers get into one of our cars, they have $20 million in liability insurance,” Miller said. “We are all about quality of care. Safety is absolutely number one. Our chauffeurs are drug tested, background checked, trained, retested, and retrained.”

Playing Up Luxury Service Advantages

Carey, which has operations or franchises in 1,000 cities worldwide, commands a 99.5% positive customer service rating, Miller said. Such results underscore the advantages chauffeured transportation offers compared to transportation network companies like Uber.

“We’ve been through the Uber effect,” Miller said. “Some companies did replace us with Uber, but we ended up getting the corporate accounts back because Uber doesn’t cut it for the needs of corporate travelers. We do well what we do; they do what they do.”

When corporate travelers venture into Third World countries, they do not want local cabs or car services, he said. “They will get into a Carey car, which they know. It’s very important to them and that’s what we sell.”

Strongly supporting chauffeured safety advantages is Carey’s development of and emphasis on technology. Miller describes the company’s systems as “premier card-carrying technology,” and hinted plans are in the works for eventual rollouts of new products and services that he could not elaborate on.

“Any tool a customer needs or wants to do business with us, we have it,” said Miller, citing such big vendor names as Expedia and Concur, and Carey’s 100-person 24/7 call center. “Our technology is sophisticated in all aspects.”

A Business Model Focused On Performance

While Miller declined to disclose total worldwide fleet counts or company revenues, citing Carey as a privately held company, he underscored how its business model thrives regardless of whether service is provided through company owned operations or franchises. He refutes the ongoing company-owned versus I/O debate in certain quarters of the luxury ground transportation industry.

“When I hung up a Budget Rental Car sign, the customer did not care if that outlet was company owned or franchise,” he said, referring to his earlier experience as chairman and CEO of Budget Group Inc. “They want good service.

“There are places where we choose not to have company owned operations,” he added. “A car is a car, and a driver is a driver, and a Carey driver is one all over the world with the same obligations to us. Our cars meet our standards everywhere or else they are not working with us.”

History & Experience With Carey International

Miller may be new to the CEO post at Carey, but his hiring in early August culminated a long relationship with the company. While he ran Budget Rental Car from 1997 to 2003, he got to know and work with then Carey CEO Vince Wolfington, who he would see socially. The two executives teamed up on a partnership that rewarded corporate accounts at Budget with premium executive transportation from Carey.

“It turned into a very successful endeavor,” Miller said. “I became more acquainted with the quality of service at Carey and their ability to deliver formally over a long period of time.”

More recently, in his role as founding partner of Basin Street Partners, an investment management firm, Miller met with Carey executives about a year ago as part of a process to sell the company. The results of a bidding and valuation period yielded an ownership stake for Basin Street Partners and an agreement to have them manage the company.

“We have an ownership stake and we have taken over the company,” Miller said. “Ultimately over time we will acquire the company entirely.”

Dan Miller, new COO of Carey International (photo: Basin Street Partners)

Dan Miller, new COO of Carey International (photo: Basin Street Partners)

A Management Team With Extra Genes

Helping lead his executive management team is executive management team is his son, Dan Miller, who is the new COO. The father-son team joins Mitch Lahr, the current CFO, and Sally Snead, the senior VP for business development.

Miller made it clear his son carved out his own entrepreneurial and business path before partnering with his Dad.

“You should not work in the family business right out of college where you can’t be fired,” Miller said. Dan Miller, a graduate of Georgetown University, at first worked for Deutsche Bank, then a private equity firm, and then started his own business before joining his family’s private equity firm. The two have worked together in real estate and other businesses as well. “He an impressive young man and really smart, and he’s done a lot in a short amount of time,” Miller said.

Looking Ahead To Challenges And Growth

Sandy and Dan Miller plan to get out to Carey operations and franchises each week for the next several months as they get to know all aspects of the company. When not traveling, Sandy Miller will divide his time between his Basin office on the 10th floor of the tallest office building in Daytona Beach, Fla., and his office at Carey headquarters in Frederick, Md., about 50 miles northwest of Washington, D.C.

Among the leading industry challenges Miller foresees is for operations to accumulate the capital, financial strength, and client reach to withstand a future recession. “I’ve been through that before, so it’s top of mind. How do we continue to deliver this high quality product if there’s a recession? We have to find ways to provide that product, safety, and brand new cars. All of that is expensive. . . A recession could endanger that for all us companies in the same boat, so we continuously have to find ways to reduce the cost of delivering a high quality product.”

Miller looks forward to continued growth for Carey International, which he clearly refers to as the largest luxury chauffeured vehicle service in the world. “We’ve been at this for 91 years and our reputation precedes us,” he said, referring to Carey’s status as the oldest luxury chauffeured car service. “We will come in adding new cars and cities. We feel like we have great people who are well trained and deliver exceptional customer service. We’re well known as a leader in safety, security, being on time, and providing quality.”

Related LCT article: Carey Hires Father, Son Team For COO Roles

LCT background articles on Carey International

Related Topics: affiliate networks, business deals, Carey International, executive changes, mergers & acquisitions, new hires, Sandy Miller

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