Saturday, December 15, 2018

Matthew Johnston of AJL International Dallas — After a few years of inactivity, the Dallas-Fort Worth Limousine Association (DFWLA) is being revitalized by a few local operators, and a familiar industry name that’s making its first foray into association management.

Matthew Johnston of AJL International, who had previously served as DFWLA’s treasurer, along with Todd Davis of Premier Transportation and Dave Erdman of ECS Transportation Group are collectively leading the charge to get the region’s operators and vendors involved, along with seeking the association management assistance of The LMC Group—which Johnston credits as doing most of the heavy lifting to get the association up and running again.

“The three of us guys are really just guiding LMC to the avenues to find people who were active in previous years and reel them in,” Johnston says. “LMC is supposed to come back to me with a short-term business plan that includes how they are going to initiate the first meeting, get people involved, and handling things for the first couple of meetings.”

And LMC is covering all the necessary bases to ensure the DFWLA is here to stay.

“Christina Davis has managed associations in the past outside the livery industry: It wasn’t a vertical we were planning on getting into, but it was one we could do—and the need arose for it,” says LMC Group founder and CEO Kristen Carroll. “We’ve been doing things like updating the bylaws, solidifying board members, putting a budget and strategic plan together, and creating different membership tiers. We want to make this association as accessible as possible, and a tiered program means that a one-car operator isn’t expected to pay the same membership fees as a bigger company.”

Kristen Carroll of The LMC Group One of the biggest motivators to breathe new life into the DFWLA is having strength in numbers in a large market. Carroll says that legislative efforts will be a part of what the association does, but “helping them as an industry in general in their area” is LMC’s goal.

“Whether that means assisting them with financial strategies or operation planning or how they should market livery in general in Dallas opposite TNCs, banding together for the resources, the goal of the association is working together to the benefit of ground transportation. It’s all about strength in numbers.”

One of the market’s key issues that Johnston cities is how it is difficult to combat TNC-preferential practices like those at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, where traditional operators are denied the prime parking and curbside pickups that TNCs enjoy. While he says that it’s not something most operators spend too much energy worrying about, he is aware that “at some point, this client who’s paying you $100 is looking at you and saying that he loves our service but it takes almost 15 minutes to get to the car alone when I could use this other, cheaper service and be right at the curb.”

“We adjust to what the rules are, since we’re not strong enough to fight the airport without a big, unified voice now,” he says. “The goal would be to create a strong association so that when you face these challenges, you have a lot of people who are saying the same thing to the airport and the city. You can’t be a lone solider demanding change at the airport because they can just push you out the door.”

Dave Erdman of ECS Transportation Group Johnston’s plans for the association are to eventually see it grow it to the thriving 100-plus-member organization it once was, as well as introduce the social events that foster camaraderie among operators who are already on friendly terms.

He is already optimistic about where the association will be in a year, and is pleased with the progress LMC has already made in its new executive-director role.

“LMC seems to really take the ball and run, and I’m excited to see where they take it,” Johnston said.

The association is planning to hold an informal meeting at the Chauffeur Driven Show at Gaylord National Resort & Conference Center October 7-10.

Visit dfwlimoassociation.com for more information.

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