Operations

New Orleans Company Offers Flexible Career Path

Lexi Tucker
Posted on October 31, 2018
Mike Fridge, vice president of Audubon Limousine
Mike Fridge, vice president of Audubon Limousine

NEW ORLEANS, La. — Mike Fridge, vice president of Audubon Limousine, enjoys what he does for multiple reasons. Not only does he get to show travelers the hidden gems of his city, he also gives locals a chance at a career path that fits their lifestyle.

More Than A Gig

Fridge has grown the company from 50 to 200 employees during the past eight years, giving many people the opportunity to make a reliable living with few or no sacrifices.

“We have great training programs, and because we are a seven day a week company, it really allows people who might be parenting on their own or going to trade school or college to be able to work on a schedule that works for them.”

He believes the industry could work together on a national level to promote job opportunities. “People don’t realize the pay is as good as it is,” Fridge says. “Working at a small company is a great way to get your foot in the door to maybe work for a larger company that pays more. There’s so much opportunity for upward mobility, and I don’t think we as an industry promote that enough.

“I think if we worked with trade schools on a national level, we may be able to get some grants or funding to train and recruit people who don’t even think about it as a career path,” he adds. “They may think about driving for the city, but not as a chauffeur.”

Branching Out

Audubon Limousine started out in the tourism business 20 years ago doing tours of the swamps and plantations outside city limits. As they discovered a larger need for transportation, they started buying buses. Over time, DMCs and other operators called them asking to use their buses for different events in the city.

Then came the regular traveler who needed rides to and from different locations around the city. Eight years ago, the business took a turn to more corporate vehicle styles for executive and business clients. “There are either tour companies or limo companies; we can do both,” he says. They also offer concierge service and have contracts with multiple hotels in the area. “It’s a big ecosystem of constantly referring and working together. All the different components help feed each other.”

The company runs 27 vehicles, including sedans, SUVs, limos, Sprinter vans, and mini-coaches, with an even split between retail and corporate business. Their tourism roots allow them to put together sightseeing excursions where clients are driven through historic neighborhoods with a stop at a distillery, trips to plantations similar to wine tours, and swamp tours where passengers exit the bus to get on boats.

“Growing up out in the suburbs of New Orleans but having two sets of grandparents born and raised in the area has given me a passion to show the city to everyone. There’s so much to learn about the area,” he explains.

What’s Next?

Since shifting from being just a tour company, Fridge has learned luxury executive transportation brings unique demands compared to tour transportation. “The expectations are greatly different. Focus on all the little details. It’s not a matter of having flashy cars as long as you have some of the best trained chauffeurs and the little extra touches like hand wipes, mints, and newspapers. This really separates you from competition.”

In the future, he hopes to add a few motorcoaches to his fleet. “We have our group sales division which we started two years ago, and it’s getting to another level where it looks like we’ll have the opportunity to purchase larger vehicles.”

Related Topics: charter and tour, customer service, hiring, hiring chauffeurs, LCTFast40, Louisiana operators, Millennials, New Orleans operators, tour buses, tourism

Lexi Tucker Associate Editor
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