Even as the industry faces its most challenging business climate in decades, the show saw an impressive turnout of some 1,000 operators and vendors representing the TLPA’s three industries for its action-packed multi-day event. Attendees flocked to Vegas from across North America, but also from as far away as Asia, Australia, and Europe.
Dwight Kines of Transdev officially took the reins as TLPA’s new president, beginning his one-year term with an acceptance speech that detailed his forward-thinking vision for the group. “We are doing our members a disservice if we don’t start spending more of our energy on showing and telling you how to compete in this new world,” Kines said. “Yes, we are under attack, but our industry has weapons to fight back and we need to give you more. So we will be focused, first, on business opportunities, while we continue to focus on our industry’s environment.”
Kines succeeds Mike Fogarty of Tristar Worldwide Chauffeur Services. In his final presentation to members as president, Fogarty showed a video of his interview on New England Cable News, which effectively demonstrated to members how an executive from the limousine side of the industry could deftly fight on behalf of the entire passenger transportation for-hire industry. Fogarty also said that one of his goals was to forge better relationships with other associations, including the National Limousine Association, something he was proud to accomplish. Read more from Fogarty on page 112.
"Yes, we are under attack, but our industry has weapons to fight back and we need to give you more." -TLPA President Dwight KinesFormer editor for Wired magazine and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Leyden’s keynote speech at the opening General Session focused on the massive technological and demographic shifts happening in the world. These changes are key to the transportation industry as it looks to find new ways to connect with customers.
The convention was packed with informational presentations, roundtable discussions, and breakout sessions. Topics ranged from competing with TNCs to growing and diversifying in today’s ever-changing business landscape.
Initial feedback from the convention shows that some of the highest-rated sessions came from companies sharing stories of their own app usage and marketing efforts, innovative call center practices, recruitment and retention of drivers, new models for exceptional service, and how to best use technology to compete with TNCs.
“The thing I like most is that people are moving forward, trying to figure out how to change their operations to meet the new marketplace realities,” Fogarty commented about the show. “Keynote Speaker Peter Leyden did a great job talking about how this is a transformational time in our industry, which I believe had an impact on how operators are viewing the changes. You see so many people picking up ideas at a conference like this and then going back into their market and finding a business opportunity that can help them grow,” added Fogarty. “The informal networking that takes place at the TLPA fosters a sharing of knowledge between a diverse group of operators. While the formal education really dealt with some of the marketplace changes and how we have to adapt to that new reality. I am confident that the TLPA will continue to provide thought leadership for our industry in 2016 and beyond under the stewardship of Dwight Kines.”
Top awards announced at the convention this year went to:
• Lifetime Achievement Awards: William Hamilton Smythe III of Yellow Cab Memphis in Memphis, Tenn., and Neal Nichols of Red Top Cab of Arlington, Va.
• Limousine Operator of the Year: Rick Versace of A1A Airport and Limousine Service in Boca Raton, Fla.
• Limousine Driver of the Year: James Vlahos of Gateway Global in Burlingame, Calif.
• Taxicab Operator of the Year: Raye Miles of Broadway Cab in Portland, Ore.
• Taxicab Driver of the Year: Albert Tracy of Discount Cab in Glendale, Ariz.
• Paratransit Operator of the Year: Matt Heafner of Yellow Cab in Denver, Colo.
• Paratransit Driver of the Year: Michael Morgan of Mercy Transportation in Everett, Wash.
• Outstanding Woman in Transportation: Margie Wilcox of Mobile Bay Transportation Company in Mobile, Ala.
Limousine Driver of the Year James Vlahos, who has worked for Gateway for just over six years, was humbled by the honor. “I don’t feel like I do anything differently than the thousands of other chauffeurs who dedicate their life to service and show up on time. I’m part of an industry that relies on the confidence that the public places on us to deliver them safely. I really enjoy what I do, and I’m touched by the award.”
The 98th Annual Convention & Trade Show will be held in Phoenix, Ariz., from
November 1-4, 2016.
Visit tlpa.org for more information.