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Chauffeur Buys Company After Multiple Driving Jobs

Martin Romjue
Posted on February 5, 2020
New Aristocat Transportation co-owner Harvin Kumar looks forward to new vehicles and new clients. (photos:Artistocat)

New Aristocat Transportation co-owner Harvin Kumar looks forward to new vehicles and new clients. (photos:Artistocat)

WARREN, Mich. — Harvin Kumar can appreciate the advantages of owning a company that drives a luxury clientele. Before he became an operator, he drove a cab for five years, spent 14 years driving 18-wheeler tractor-trailers, and then put in another three years as a chauffeur.

The immigrant from India and his wife, Indu Kumar, achieved their dream on Dec. 23, 2019 when they closed a deal to buy the longstanding Detroit operation Aristocat Transportation from owner and founder Sue Jarvis who retired after 33 years at the helm. This wasn’t the first go-around for Kumar, who owned a limousine service from 2000-2002 between his years as a cab driver and a truck driver.

“I had customer experience contact with clients and was always learning,” Kumar told LCT recently of his previous cabbie-chauffeur-trucker gigs.

American Dream

The Kumars’ business journey started when they came to the U.S. from India in 1994 with little money but a strong intent to work hard and achieve success in the American Dream. Harvin at first worked at a restaurant in New York City. With no money or knowledge of the English language, he and Indu a year later looked for new opportunities in Detroit after a friend suggested he move there.

Harvin Kumar got a job as a taxi driver working runs mostly at the Detroit airport, which allowed him to learn the rules of the road while also practicing his English with riders.

Five years later, he founded RS Limousine, which gave him a trial run on being an operator.

He ran RS until 2002 when he had to close it after the economic fallout from 9/11 slowed down his business. He switched to truck driving, manning 18-wheeler tractor-trailers. While gaining valuable experience trucking, he missed the personal service of chauffeured transportation. In 2016, he got hired at Aristocat, allowing him to return to his passion for chauffeured transportation.

When Jarvis looked for a buyer last year, Kumar took the leap again. “I was in the right place at the right time with Sue wanting to retire,” he said.

Kumar already owns vehicles, so the acquisition included the business and its book of clients. He now runs a fleet of three GMC Yukon SUVs with two other chauffeurs.

“I like to be driving in addition to working in an office,” said Kumar, who plans to stay active behind the wheel despite being a company owner. “I like being out and making contacts with clients.”

Indu Kumar and affiliate manager Julia Zabel handle operations and client services at the 33-year-old company.

Indu Kumar and affiliate manager Julia Zabel handle operations and client services at the 33-year-old company.

Client Connections

Most of his clients span the corporate sector, and he drives some celebrities and VIPs through affiliate referrals. The operation also handles transportation for large groups visiting the Detroit region and in other cities as well.

In addition to providing the staples of luxury service, such as uniformed chauffeurs, newer vehicles, WiFi, bottled water, and candies, Kumar sums up his client approach as, “If a customer has a special need or request, we take care of it.” That also means addressing any complaints as quickly as possible.

Aristocat’s affiliate list includes a roster of well-known industry company names, such as Windy City Limousine & Bus in Chicago, London Town Cars in New York, O’Hare Midway in Chicago, M.I.B. Transportation in San Diego, Destination MCO in Orlando, and AJL International in Houston. The company uses both employed and independent contractor chauffeurs, who are all trained and drug-tested.

In another unusual twist to Kumar’s journey, his current affiliate manager, Julia Zabel, hired him as a chauffeur in 2016 when Jarvis owned the company.

“I brought him on the team because he’s amazing,” Zabel recalled. “Our clients adore Harvin.”

The Kumars bought the company as business partners, with Indu as a majority stock owner, to maintain Aristocat’s status as a woman-owned business. Jarvis started Aristocat in 1987 and it grew into a leading affiliate and chauffeured transportation company in Detroit. Kumar said Jarvis is still available to help him with his new ownership as needed. Meanwhile, Indu Kumar works with Zabel in the office, focusing on customer service.

Looking ahead, Kumar would like to take on more clients and vehicles to expand his service. He’s considering 2021 model year SUVs, including Suburbans, as well as sedans and a Sprinter van.

“I really want to grow this company for the future of my sons,” he said, who are ages 12 and 10. “I want to make sure I can provide whatever they need.”

Note: This article includes information from a press release blog post at www.aristocattransportation.com

Related Topics: business deals, business growth, Drivers, entrepreneurship, mergers & acquisitions, Michigan operators, taxis

Martin Romjue Editor
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