Monday, May 21, 2018

San Diego Retreat San Diego — The fourth-annual Chauffeur Driven Executive Retreat was our second in California, first with our new Director of Events Carly Sokoloff, and one incredible success! Held from May 6-8 (though many of our attendees arrived early and stayed late) at the beautifully appointed and perfectly situated Pendry Hotel, the retreat had everyone falling in love with San Diego from the shoreline to the skyline as our events helped nearly 190 attendees discover why it’s rightfully called America’s Finest City. We are so grateful to all of our generous sponsors—especially Platinum Sponsors Grech Motors and Ford-Lincoln Limousine and Livery Vehicles—for making this another can’t-miss retreat.

San Diego Retreat “CD’s San Diego retreat was a grand-slam home run, from the unexpected pre-show pool party to the great networking sessions and educational content,” raves Edison Kahakauwila of L.A. Limousines & Transportation Services in Victoria, British Columbia. “The depth of the speakers and their collective information gave life to what we all do in this industry. I am definitely looking forward to see my new colleagues and friends in Austin 2019!”

We kicked off our first official night in town with an Opening Dinner & Reception at Coasterra, where the stunning waterside views of the city were made even more scenic by one incredible sunset. Coasterra has earned its place as one of San Diego’s premiere Bayfront dining destinations, and we got to find out exactly why during an evening of networking, tasty locavore Mexican fare, and live music courtesy of Ottopilot. Many thanks to Grech Motors for providing transportation to and from the venue.

San Diego Retreat Education is a cornerstone of our events, and we once again brought a range of timely, relevant information to the schedule—thanks to the CD Education Committee spearheaded by co-chairs Jason Sharenow of Broadway Elite Worldwide and Kristen Carroll of The LMC Group. Matt Assolin of Nikko's Worldwide Chauffeured Services, Alan Candeub of Park Avenue Limousine, Sami Elotmani of Destination MCO, Kim J. Dolniak of Best Transportation St. Louis, and Tony Simon of Reston Limousine round out the hardworking committee.

Our very first session on Monday covered the all-important topic of “Are You Making Money?” presented by Dawson Rutter of Commonwealth Worldwide and Jessica Boulerice of The LMC Group and moderated by Sharenow. We were thrilled to hear all throughout the event how accessible and engaging our speakers made this session, and are looking forward to seeing the long-term benefits attendees got from learning all about examining the financial health of their companies and boosting their profit in the process.

San Diego Retreat “CD brought in great speakers for an interesting financial class—they’re making me learn while still keeping it fun!” says Gary LeCamu of Diamond Limousine Service in Hempstead, Texas. “The retreat is one of my favorite events each year. We can't wait to welcome y'all to Texas next year.”

After a tasty lunch, it was back to business with “Safeguarding Your Company From Sexual Harassment,” delivered by Brooke Keil of Emerson Hospital and Ann Plunkett of Workplace Partners. Providing both an HR and legal standpoint, the presenters fielded tons of real-life questions while discussing the importance of fostering a workplace free of abuse, harassment, and toxicity.

“It not only covered the topic of sexual harassment but also other great topics that went beyond this uncomfortable conversation,” says Nancy Vargas of DH2 Chauffeured Transportation in College Point, N.Y. “As a female entrepreneur in a male-dominated industry, I feel that it’s a conversation we need to have in the workplace and with our colleagues. It will help keeping everyone in check, whether they’re an owner, employee, dispatcher, or affiliate.”

San Diego Retreat Then it was off to the Vehicle Showcase—where retreat-goers got an up-close look at Grech Motors’ newest buses and 2018 Lincoln Navigator—before an evening 15 stories above the city at The Ultimate Skybox. This one-of-a-kind rooftop experience overlooked another brilliant sunset, a nearly panoramic view of the city and beyond as it transitioned from daylight to nighttime, and the best seats in the house as the hometown Padres took on the Nationals. Renowned magician and mentalist Ben Silver dazzled the crowd in his own right with some awe-inspiring mind tricks and sleights of hand.

“As a satisfied sponsor since the very first retreat, we couldn’t be happier with how the Chauffeur Driven Executive Retreat delivers year after year,” says Gold Sponsor Ryan Hilberth of Book.limo in St. Petersburg, Fla.

San Diego Retreat Our second day of education began with a bang as Temple University’s Jeffrey Montague discussed "Seizing Opportunities With Millennials, Hospitality & Tourism" with Sharenow moderating. This highly interactive session opened up a dialogue among generations while uncovering ways to harness Millennials’ outside-the-box thinking to the benefit of transportation companies.

We closed out the educational portion of the event with our debut of The Executive Game. Strategy Leaders modified this gamified learning experience for our retreat, which pitted eight groups against each other to see who would finish the game with the most retirement money—plus bragging rights and an article in CD magazine. Check out what Team One’s Shawn Glasgow of Peak Limousine, Kathy Kahne of Windy City Limousine, Terrie Lane of Grand Avenue Limousine, John Oulton of Richmond Limousine, Brandan Stein of Exclusive Sedan Service, Brion Svenson of Four Star Limousine, and Nancy Vargas of DH2 Chauffeured Transportation say about their victory in our June issue!

San Diego Retreat Attendees got to check out San Diego Tuesday afternoon and evening with a trolley tour courtesy of Old Town Trolley Tours and a free night to explore the town, with many staying with us through Wednesday to take advantage of an optional trip to the famed San Diego Zoo.

“Going back to my college town of San Diego for business was such an amazing experience—but the experience would not exist without the precise and detail-oriented planning of CD to make this retreat one for the history books,” says Gold Sponsor Jeff Brodsly of Chosen Payments in Moorpark, Calif. “Every single turn was perfect, every venue, education topic, pool party, and the crowd that this event was beyond top notch. Being able to learn, network, hang with clients, and pick up substantial new business = major success. Can’t wait for next year!”

San Diego Retreat We’ll have a full retreat recap—including tons of photos!—in our June issue of the magazine, so stay tuned. In the meantime, start planning ahead for next year when the CD Executive Retreat heads to Austin, Texas, to make the Omni Austin Hotel Downtown our home from May 5-7, 2019.

Next up: The 2018 Chauffeur Driven Show will head to the fabulous, all-under-one-roof Gaylord National just outside Washington, D.C., this October 7-10—which will be here before you know it. Head on over to chauffeurdrivenshow.com for all the details as they’re finalized.

Thank you again to our generous sponsors!

Platinum
Grech Motors
Ford-Lincoln Limousine and Livery Vehicles

Gold
ABC Companies
Advantage Funding
Book.limo
Chosen Payments
Complete Fleet Livery Sales
Create-A-Card
First Class Customs
Lancer Insurance
Limo Anywhere
MCI

Affiliate
Black Tie Limousine
Black Tie Transportation Worldwide
Broadway Elite Worldwide
Exclusive Sedan Service
Gateway Global
Grace Limousine and Shuttle
Icona Global
North Point Transportation Group
Overland Chauffeured Services
Premier Transportation Worldwide
Signature Livery New Orleans
VIP Global

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GCLA Group Several members of the GCLA board were among those attending the association’s meeting at the CD Executive Retreat San Diego — The Greater California Livery Association (GCLA) has been taking its meetings on the road to ensure that its more-than-300 members hailing from all over the state are able to attend, and held its San Diego meeting at The Pendry in conjunction with the Chauffeur Driven retreat. Nearly 50 members made the meeting space a packed house on the afternoon of May 8.

The meeting came on the heels of the April 26 announcement that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ruled that Uber is both a TNC and a charter party carrier (TPC). This means that the company must pay not only any fees it’s accumulated in the past three years for operating as a TPC but also the remaining back fees from that same three-year period for any TNC permit-holders providing TNC services through the Uber platform separate from Raiser-CA (a subsidiary of Uber that has been assessed CPUC fees). Uber has 30 days from April 26 to register as a TNC and TCP.

Despite this victory, there remain numerous issues for California operators, and the meeting provided an opportunity to both address them and assist others with their own pain points. Chief among those issues is how Uber has recently given Los Angeles International Airport $35M for prime curbside real estate, making it difficult for the industry to operate at the country’s second busiest overall airport. While the much-maligned TNC has been enjoying curbside pickup, traditional operators are relegated to waiting nearly two miles away for their passengers.

GCLA President Mo Garkani of The COTS Group assured members that the National Limousine Association and AFT have joined the fight against this unfair practice, and that he, too, is committed to this battle that arose from LAX’s determination to combat traffic by 50 percent. Garkani explained that the association has at least two airport contacts who are amenable to hearing the GCLA’s proposal appealing for the reinstitution of the curbside pickup for non-Uber vehicles.

GCLA Executive Director Tom Garrett assured members that “the GCLA’s never had a stronger financial position,” which bodes well for the battles that the association is facing.

As meeting attendees individually sounded off about their own personal concerns, a few items emerged as dominant frustrations, particularly insurance, worker’s comp, the cost of doing business, drug-testing in a state where marijuana is legalized, and the hiring and training of quality chauffeurs. To that last point, Garkani plans to hold a workshop wherein qualified trainers will offer chauffeur certification.

GCLA Director Perry Barin of Music Express and Past President Kevin Illingworth of Classique Limousines reminded everyone that it’s imperative to keep boosting association membership, as 300 members is disproportionate to the thousands of livery operations in the state. Garkani reminded those in attendance that “an association is stronger than one person and can help make things happen” for those grappling with significant issues.

The next GCLA meeting will be July 31 in Los Angeles.

Visit gcla.org for more information.

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Go Group Group Manager Daniel Ramos accepts the 2018 Small Business Achievement Award on behalf of GO Puerto Rico Shuttles on April 17 at an event in Washington, D.C. Chicago — GO Puerto Rico Shuttles, a member of The GO Group network of ground transportation providers, was one of 16 companies selected by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to receive the 2018 Small Business Achievement Award for its “remarkable work in providing FEMA with services during last year’s hurricanes.” The company received its award at a ceremony held in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, April 17, 2018.

A few days after Hurricane Maria hit, FEMA was seeking a company to provide transportation for their first responders, which was difficult due to power outages, damaged and inaccessible roads, and lack of cell signals. GO Puerto Rico was able to find a signal and immediately responded. The company provided transportation for four months under extreme conditions.

FEMA was impressed by the company’s ability to create logistics for 1000 passengers while roads were blocked, no cell phones to communicate with drivers, and a fuel shortage.  

According to a statement provided by DHS, “Owner/operator Mr. Jose Torres continued to offer solutions to lessen costs while meeting, or exceeding, all mission requirements—a truly effective business concern that rose above the post-disaster conflict and delivered sterling performance in aiding the effort to help disaster survivors.”  

“The hurricanes left unimaginable devastation. We knew we had the right vehicles, logistical capabilities, and experience to transport help where we could,” says Torres.

“We are extremely proud of owner Jose Torres and his crew for their amazing work under such difficult conditions,” says John McCarthy, president, The GO Group.  “We congratulate Jose and his entire team.”

Visit GoAirportShuttle.com for more information.

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