Lancer Insurance
Monday, June 24, 2024

BY ROB SMENTEK

Great Bay Limousine Cover Art: Great Bay Limousine President Richard Tessier with a few of his larger fleet options. Photography by Chris Weiss. You might think that a landmark 25th year anniversary would be a cause for celebration for a luxury ground transportation company. But for Great Bay Limousine President Richard Tessier, there are no proverbial fireworks planned.

“We’re just trying to take things day to day. We’re not concentrating on any big celebrations. We just want things to be as smooth and accurate for our clients and affiliates as possible,” says Tessier.

Following a 20-year career as an auto technician, Tessier founded Great Bay in December 1999 with a single car, and soon the company quickly expanded to eight cars by the following summer. That tract for expansion continues to this day, as one of the ways that Tessier and his Great Bay team ensure the best for their customer base is by having one of the most vast and diverse fleets in New England.

“We currently run 47 vehicles. We have sedans up to trolleys and buses, and limo vans— we have everything,” he says.

Great Bay LimousineGreat Bay Limousine Assistant Manager Karrine Tessier and President Richard Tessier at company headquarters Keeping a modern and up-to-date fleet is a particular point of pride for Tessier, as he makes a huge effort to keep his vehicle offering current wherever possible.

“We’ve always tried to keep active and ahead of trends. We have a new Cadillac Escalade, which I like a lot, and the Cadillac CT5, which I love; and we have the Volvo S90s, which we were among the first to adopt in our market. We also have Mercedes and BMW sedans. I try to keep new model sedans and SUVs, and our buses are all late model years. I just try to fill in what we have need for.”

Tessier is also forward-thinking when it comes to his fleet. In fact, he’s looking at alternative platforms with electric vehicles.

“Next week, we have a Cadillac Lyriq that we’re picking up. I think it will add to our diversity by accommodating a certain client base. We get requests for electric vehicles from our customers from Europe, and we’re happy to deliver this option,” says Tessier. But that’s not to say that Great Bay has abandoned the cars that our industry was built on—namely stretch limousines.

Great Bay LimousineL to R: Reservationist Cindy Whiting, Karrine Tessier, Richard Tessier, and Reservations Manager April Butler “I currently run four stretches: two Chrysler 300s, an Escalade, and a Suburban. We get a lot of work with them through weddings and nights out. We also have two limo vans that are extremely popular,” he says.

Also high in demand is the company’s trolley, a particular favorite during the New England busy season.

“I bought the trolley in 2018 brand new. It’s actually called frequently. The trolley gets us a lot of wedding work and group moves where people might want to go to lunch and dinner. In fact, it’s out five days a week during our busiest season.”

Conveniently located in the picturesque town of Portsmouth, N.H., a seaside New England town located on the Maine border and Piscataqua River, Great Bay Limousine captures business up and down the I-95 corridor, serving clients at home in New Hampshire, but also Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, and New York. While their local airport is Portsmouth International, they regularly service Boston Logan and the regional airfields between Maine and Massachusetts. By covering such a wide breadth of area, you can bet that Great Bay’s client base is as diverse as their fleet.

“We do it all,” says Tessier. “We do a lot of corporate work, but we also get a ton of weddings and retail work. Because we have a vehicle for every occasion, we’re able to handle everything from large corporate moves to concerts and date nights.”

Great Bay LimousineRichard Tessier at Portsmouth landmark Gilley’s Diner In the company’s quarter century of business, perhaps its biggest change has been the shift from a one-man show to an expanding family organization. Tessier is pleased to have welcomed two of his daughters into the industry.

“My daughter, Karrine, came into the business 11 years ago, when she was just 18,” says Tessier. “She now manages everything behind the scenes—doing the payroll and scheduling—and she’s really come a long way. This gives me freedom, so I’m not getting the phones at night like I used to. It gives me an easier life with the business. And my youngest daughter Vanessa started just a few weeks ago. She’s 19 and is helping with payroll; she’s going to learn a bit about reservations as well. She’s someone who could definitely get into marketing and sales, which is my forte.”

Even with his daughters accepting responsibility and taking things off his plate, Tessier admits that he still oversees the activity at Great Bay.

“I’m happy to have my family within the company, and I appreciate their interest, but I also keep control. I’m overlooking everything all of the time. I’m a strong manager, but I’m getting better. I take it day by day.”

However, the family notion extends to the greater team as well. The company has 70 people on staff, ranging from back-office support to chauffeurs. But one part of the team really sticks out in Tessier’s mind.

Great Bay LimousineGreat Bay Chauffeurs Jim Hallas (left) and Greg Dow at Corpus Christi Parish “My reservationists are my superstars. In particular, Reservations Manager April Butler, who’s been with me 4 years, and her partner Cindy Whiting. They have a good deal of experience in the industry but enjoy our company’s culture and environment. They’re really outstanding people,” says Tessier.

Despite being a tight-knit, well-run machine, Tessier says he could certainly use more team members. However, he has high expectations for his workers, and he isn’t necessarily looking to simply add a body to fill a role. After all, this is a high-touch, service-oriented industry, and bad service can make or break a company.

“When we’re hiring, we’re looking for people who are polite, friendly, and nice—for all positions. I look closely at the type of person I’m bringing on. Are they well mannered? Are they polite? I certainly don’t want to hire someone that’s short-fused and doesn’t get along with people. We want people who work well with others and are level-headed.”

“I’ve made a concentrated effort to appreciate everyone who does business with us and express my gratitude to those who work with us.”– Richard Tessier, President of Great Bay Limousine

Tessier believes his culture functions in part because of the experience of his staff and the type of employees that the company attracts.

“This team works because we have more mature members on staff. We actually don’t have a lot of younger staff members. I’d rather have someone kinder or more mature on the team. That’s something I look for.”

While much of the industry is still dealing with a chronic driver shortage, Tessier considers himself fortunate in this regard. His biggest challenge, in short, is just keeping things on schedule.

“I’ve actually been lucky with keeping chauffeurs on staff. But honestly, I still handle runs myself from time to time. We don’t have to scramble as often as others, which is nice,” he says.

Richard and Karrine Tessier As evident from the manner he maintains his fleet, Tessier is definitely looking at the next big thing, whether that’s back-office software or his own website.

“I try to be as active as I can to grow with the times. We use Limo Anywhere because I feel a lot of people are on it; it’s our most valuable piece of technology. As of right now, we’re trying to update the website, software, and mobile app. I try very hard to be forward-thinking.”

In addition to running his busy business, Tessier has a long relationship with the New England Livery Association (NELA), one of the premier industry trade associations.

“I’m one of the board members. I feel it’s important to belong because it keeps things in the industry moving forward. Unfortunately, due to my schedule, I’m not as involved as much as I’d like to be, but I’m proud to be part of the organization,” he says.

Incredibly, for a gentleman who is on the cusp of celebrating a milestone year in the industry—no small feat—it took a decent amount of time for Tessier to realize he’d found his niche.

“It really wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that this was the business I was meant to be in, and this is what I enjoy. What I like best about the industry is the people—both the people I work with and those who are my customers. While I just generally like everything about the industry, I’ve made a concentrated effort to appreciate everyone who does business with us and express my gratitude to those who work with us. I always want to make sure that everyone on staff is appreciative of our clients since they pay our paychecks. At our core, we’re hard-working people trying to do our best for other people.”   [CD0524]