Lancer Insurance
Saturday, March 02, 2024

L to R: Dale Busse of Chicago’s Transportation Group, Ricki Marks of Hawthorne Limousine, ILA President Tracy Hodge-Raimer of Your Private Limousine, and and Mike Walker of Hawthorne LimousineChicago — Not even the chill of intermittent rainfall could put a damper on the good spirits at Illinois Limousine Association’s (ILA) first-ever Chauffeur Appreciation Day, which was held October 14 at the Catherine Chevalier Woods, just minutes from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Chauffeur Driven Editor Madeleine Maccar attended the inaugural event, which offered chauffeurs a free boxed lunch and assorted snacks, raffles, goodie bags, vendor and vehicle displays—and many hearty thank-yous.

The day aimed to demonstrate ILA members’ appreciation for local chauffeurs and the daily challenges they face, giving operators a chance to extend some well-deserved kudos to the drivers who also serve as public faces of their companies.

“There’s no better time than now to come together as an industry and say thank you to our chauffeurs because I really don’t think we can do that enough,” says ILA President Tracy Hodge-Raimer of Your Private Limousine. “Our big focus was to make sure that there was no solicitation, that everyone was sincere in just wanting to say thanks.”

Hodge-Raimer was part of the five-person committee that has been planning the day since August, which comprised Paula DeBiasi of Chicago Coachworks, Scott Delheimer of Class Act Limousine, Brian Whitaker of Chicagoland Transportation Solutions, and Chauffeur Driven Publisher Chris Weiss.

After hearing the success stories of other organizations’ approaches to Chauffeur Appreciation Day, Hodge-Raimer sought help from the committee and other ground transportation associations, like the New England Livery Association, to bring the industry tradition to the Windy City.

More than 20 companies sponsored the event, and a few also served as vendors. A number of Grech Motors’ buses were on-site for vehicle tours, and representatives from City Colleges of Chicago’s Olive-Harvey College were available to discuss the services they have for chauffeurs. Scholarships to the Olive-Harvey College’s Public Passenger Chauffeur Training program was even among the day’s prizes, as was a pass to CD’s Atlantic City show. Grisselle Desai, Jack Nakanishi, David Riske, and Jeff Patton were the scholarship winners, while Terrin Lange of Chicago Northshore Limousine won the show pass.

Even though rain delays made it difficult for chauffeurs to find a few minutes to attend the event, roughly 35 drivers stopped by for lunch and friendly company.

“I’m confident that we did everything we set out to do,” says Hodge-Raimer. “I was very happy with how it turned out.”

The sporadically inclement weather did come with a silver lining: Seeking refuge under the picnic pavilion at the heart of Chauffeur Appreciation Day’s activities presented more opportunities for the event’s attendees to meet and mingle.

“I did see a few gentlemen that I had not met before in the past, so it was a good way for the small, independent companies and the large ones to get together for a few minutes and discuss the market not competitively, but how it affects all of us,” says Edward White of Tell-A-Friend Limousine. “I just enjoyed the opportunity to meet everyone casually on common ground and network in a different environment.”

With its first Chauffeur Appreciation Day under the ILA’s belt, the association is already talking about making it an annual event.

“I’m looking forward to doing it again next year and I think everyone else is, too,” Hodge-Raimer says. “I think it’s exactly what our industry needs, just coming together in a laid-back atmosphere to support each other.”

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