CD/NLA Show DC
Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Two companies based in Westchester County, N.Y, have officially become one as the Leros Transportation Group has acquired Red Oak Transportation of Portchester.

The two brands represent five generations of transportation experience over 125 combined years. In addition, the acquisition will bring the Leros fleet back to the pre-pandemic level of more than 300 vehicles, consisting of sedans, SUVs, vans, minibuses, and full-size coaches. Operating in the same market and headquartered just nine miles apart, the two companies will merge their staff and operations in Leros’ headquarters in Valhalla.

Leros Transportation Group The Leros management team (L to R): COO Mike Basso, President Jeff Nyikos, and CFO Chris Nyikos at their Valhalla, N.Y. facility

“The combination will create an extremely competitive organization positioned for greater growth, and with the financial strength to better manage the new challenges of a post-pandemic world,” says Leros COO Michael Basso. “The winning combination of joint resources will allow both companies to provide a more flexible and efficient customer service model with greater reach.”

The team at DrivingTransactions.com, under the leadership of principal Kenneth Lucci, facilitated the transaction for the seller, and worked with all parties to formulate, negotiate, and finalize the transaction.

“As a former operator, Ken knows the business and that’s the key,” says Leros President Jeff Nykios. “His financial analysts created an impressive and detailed financial information package on Red Oak, including past P&L performance trends, current year financial forecasts, and complete fleet value estimates up front.  We used this package to evaluate the business, formulate an offer, and structure a transaction that is a win-win for all parties. His team was instrumental in putting this together representing the seller while offering advice to both sides on how to integrate and grow the business after the sale.

Established in 1983, Leros remains family owned and operated. Red Oak similarly has long ties to the transportation industry. Owners Andrew (CEO) and Edward (President) Stoppelmann are third-generation operators whose family involvement in ground transportation goes back to 1936.

The Stoppelmanns retained the services of the Windels Marx Transportation Law Practice, led by Partner and Chair Matt Daus, to represent their interests in the acquisition. 

“It was a true privilege for our law firm’s M&A transportation team to represent Red Oak and the Stoppelmann family in this important transaction that will positively impact the corporate travel community. The marriage of the Red Oak and Leros brands, two established ground transportation companies, sets an industrywide example of what can be accomplished by exploring strategic M&A synergies as we enter an uncertain post-pandemic market,” says Daus.  

“After more than three generations in the ground transportation business, the time had come to explore synergies between like-minded companies, and Leros was the perfect fit to share and integrate Red Oak’s 'best in class' service and exemplary affiliate network partners.  We would like to thank former NYC Taxi & Limousine Commissioner Matt Daus, who the Stoppelmann family has known for decades, and his experienced M&A legal team at Windels Marx, who provided effective counsel every step of the way, working around-the-clock to help this deal get over the goal line. Of course, the deal would not have been possible without the sense of urgency and commitment of Ken Lucci, who worked very well with the legal teams and principals on both sides to resolve issues in a collaborative fashion," says the Stopplemanns about the process. 

Leros has also announced that they acquired two other transportation companies in the N.Y. metro market during the pandemic. In May 2020, Air Brook Limousine became part of the Leros family of transportation companies. Air Brook Limousine has been a well-known second-generation New Jersey brand for more than 50 years. Leros merged the Air Brook operations into their Royal Coachman location in Deville, N.J., which they acquired in 2018.

Furthermore, in July of 2021, Leros acquired All Transportation Network of Newburgh, N.Y. Established by Michael Zappone in 1988, All Transportation operated throughout New York’s Hudson Valley for more than 30 years. This acquisition provided Leros with a further foothold in a market that connects geographically to their existing New York and Northern New Jersey operations. Zappone has stayed with Leros on a consulting basis.

Visit leroslimo.com for more information.

[09.13.22]

Could this be an industry first? When Ohio-based TL Worldwide Transportation took delivery of its newest vehicle, a 2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium Package, it became one of the earliest operators in the US to test the waters with the OEM’s all-electric version of its classic pony car.

TL Worldwide DJ Luciano (left) and Garry Moneypenny of TL Worldwide picked up the car from Towne Livery in Buffalo, N.Y.

Yes, you read that correctly. While the Mach-E shares the nameplate, this model is 100 percent electric with a range of about 300 miles and is classified as an SUV rather than the traditional coupe. Electric makes it whisper quiet, although there are three drive modes that introduce a bit of sound into the cabin for a more conventional experience.

“I initially said ‘that can’t be a Mustang’ when I first saw it on the floor at the CD/NLA Show in Vegas in March,” says President and Owner Nancy Brodie. “It was just so sleek and I thought it was something we really needed in our fleet. I worked with Dave Bastian of Towne Livery and asked what we had to do to make it happen. I believe we might be the first operator in the industry to receive one.”

Earlier this summer, TL’s Manager of Government Affairs and Marketing DJ Luciano made the trek to Towne Livery’s headquarters in Buffalo, N.Y., to take delivery—and had the pleasure of being the first in the company to see how it performs on the open road.

“I drove it from Buffalo to Akron—about 200 miles—and had about 100 miles left in drive time,” Luciano says about battery range.

TL Worldwide The backseat of the Mach-E

Rather than a gas gauge, the vehicle’s remaining range is displayed on the 15.5-inch console screen, which includes a breakdown of the impact that climate control and other accessories have on the battery. By entering the destination, Ford’s interface can also help plot the charging requirements for the drive and find a charging station along the route. Publicly available charging stations continue to pop up across the country, which includes Ford’s BlueOval Charge Network with more than 75,000 plugs available nationwide.

While the TL team anxiously awaited the summer delivery, the time was well spent getting their facility up to spec to be able to charge the Mach-E onsite. Meanwhile, Ford Pro Charging provided an extensive education for the team.

“It’s more than just purchasing the car and driving it off the lot like you would with any other car. It’s not just the financial investment, but the educational investment,” says Sales & Marketing Manager Samantha Brodie.

“Ford Pro Charging has been very good with training our team—anyone who is going to be servicing or touching or interacting with the vehicle. They do a phenomenal job with their education. It’s been incredibly helpful—they definitely lessened the stress,” says Luciano.

The garage upgrade took several weeks of planning and about three days to install the Level 2 charging stations, which provide a stronger and faster charge. Luciano estimates that a full charge may take up to four or five hours in house, although he’s experienced a solid charge from approximately 45 percent to around 80 percent in as little as 15 minutes at public chargers.

TL Worldwide The dash of the Mach-E

“I think the cost savings will be pretty dramatic the further we go and the more vehicles we implement,” says Luciano. Plus, the vehicle requires less maintenance, adding to the savings, and tax credits may be available.

“Ford Pro Charging has been amazing with the process of getting our garage ready,” says Nancy. “They walked us through step by step. We decided to go with more than one charging station because I think we’re going to explore adding more electric vehicles to our fleet down the road. It was a bit costly, but it was better to do more than one station rather than having to go back and do more later.”

Because the Mach-E has a completely different powertrain than their traditional ICE-powered vehicles, Brodie has been giving her chauffeurs about 20 hours of drive time (recommended by Ford Pro Charging) to get familiar with the vehicle’s performance and technology before transporting customers. She’s also drilled it into their heads to keep an eye on the remaining range, so far without incident. When the winter months come, the team will be able to precondition the batteries—thanks to Ford’s software--so that range isn’t sacrificed due to the colder weather.

TL Worldwide Mach-E TL Owner Nancy Brodie (left) and Sales & Marketing Manager Samantha Brodie with their new vehicle

Samantha says that they have also been slowly introducing the Mach-E to select customers—especially those who are frequent travelers and are exposed to what vehicles other countries are offering—while actively soliciting feedback before marketing it broadly to the rest of their clients.

“On a recent airport run, the couple was so excited about riding in it that they were discussing the possibility of getting their own electric vehicle. Riding in it and seeing the view through the panoramic roof and feeling the incredible horsepower that it has while still having a luxury feel were big selling points for them. It was neat to see them really enjoying the Mustang as much as we have,” says Luciano.

Luciano says that storage space is comparable to other TL fleet sedans, but with a twist—there’s extra room under the hood where the engine would be referred to as the “frunk.”

“Ford did a really good job with utilizing that space because it’s insulated to near-perfect water seal, so you can fill it up with ice and use for tailgating or an event like a wedding. It’s a unique opportunity to be able to bring that into the luxury transportation space. I think people will start to see the versality this vehicle offers,” he says.

“It’s so comfortable and what a smooth ride. It’s very roomy; it’s an amazing vehicle. Everyone here is just in love with it,” adds Nancy. “I think the industry is absolutely going to love it too, and I look forward to getting more. We’re excited to be the first. It’s changed our lives in just the past few months that we’ve had it.”

Visit tlworldwidetrans.com for more information.

Photos courtesy of TL Worldwide and David Bastian of Towne Livery

[09.13.22]

The Florida Limousine Association (FLA) is excited to announce it has reformed to encompass the West Florida Limousine Association (WFLA) and Greater Orlando Limousine Association (GOLA) in the spirit of uniting for one statewide voice.

FLA

This summer, leaders from the three organizations agreed to a merger under the Florida Limousine Association (FLA) brand. They retained the management services of Sara Eastwood-Richardson, former LCT publisher, LCT Show chair, and NLA corporate liaison. She founded RAS International in 2019, a company dedicated to working with nonprofit organizations.

The newly unified association also voted in a new board of directors, which will represent districts of the state. The five regions under the FLA umbrella will work together for the entire state, but will also have local chapter special meetings and events. The FLA's new headquarters includes three dedicated staff members.

“A good association is like the scaffolding that supports the companies that belong to it, so the FLA is extremely excited that Sara Eastwood-Richardson is our new executive director. There is a new excitement and a renewed energy that Sara has brought to the organization. We expect membership to reach an all-time high under her leadership. Great things are growing in Florida,” says FLA President Rick Versace of A1A Global Ground.

The FLA is now focusing on fundraising after suspending membership dues during the pandemic. According to Eastwood-Richardson, money earned will seed a defense fund for lobbying and legal work, including the pursuit of a universal permit (most valuable to the southern region). FLA will also focus on tort reform to address the insurance crisis operators are facing.

“When the WFLA was approached, we thought pooling the membership statewide so we could hire a dedicated executive director was a great idea! Operating a limousine company and making the time commitment as a board member to run an association was a lot. Sara is a rock star of associations; just look at what she has done with the GCLA. Having Sara and her team will allow us to better focus on industry issues, organize educational meetings, create charity events, and deliver tremendous value to the membership,” says FLA Board Member Thomas Halsnik of Walsh Chauffeured Transportation. Halsnik was formerly the secretary of the WFLA.

The FLA’s first fundraiser will be held on December 8 at the JW Marriott Grand Lakes in Orlando. The day will kick off with the board’s 2023 strategic planning meeting (members are free to join), followed by a Sponsor Appreciation Reception and Holiday Gala complete with dinner, awards, and live entertainment. More details and registration information is available here.

The association is also releasing its new e-newsletter and revamped website soon. Click here to join the association; memberships are good through December 2023.

Visit floridalimousine.com for more information, or contact Eastwood-Richardson at sara@ras-int.org or 253.314.7568.

[09.12.22]