Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.
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60 LIMOUSINE, CHARTER & TOUR SEPTEMBER 2016 WWW.LCTMAG.COM SPRINGFIELD, MO. — A LOT HAS HAPPENED since First Class Customs Inc.'s debut ar- ticle in the January 2014 issue of LCT. The company, started in June 2013 in Springfield by CEO Jay Glick, has grown from 18 to 25 employees and specializes in custom Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Vans, CEO SUVs, and limo buses. Smart Moves There are benefits to not getting too big too soon. "We've done very well estab- lishing ourselves as one of the premium brands," Glick says. "We're still a bou- tique builder and we didn't over expand." This is why the com- pany has been doing so well in a Sprint- er market that has peaked and is slow- ing down. "Some companies rode the boom up and increased their capac- ity and production, and since the market is on the decline due to the upcoming presidential election and the impact of the TNCs, I think people are holding back a little bit," he explains. "We have some of the best corporate customers in the industry, and I think they are re- grouping and trying to find some of the new ways to implement technology to help reduce the effects of disruption in the industry." Because the company stayed small, it could sell directly to customers and not through dealers. "That was the golden ticket," Glick says. "All of the other build- ers that were using dealers for their distri- bution of Sprinters weren't doing as well." The dealer model didn't work anymore because the markup between the manu- facturing side and the retail customer got to the point where it shrank because of increased competition, Glick says. It was a smart move to stay independent of all of this. "The fact we didn't get caught up in that is proving quite well for us. Our staying power is because of our reputation and customer service. That's what is get- ting us through any change in the market." Be There One of the reasons clients keep returning and recommending others use First Class Customs is because of customer service, Glick says. The company was born in the digital age, and this has allowed Glick to make good use of sites like Facebook. "Our customers are our best salespeople. The positive feedback we've seen on so- cial media is just wonderful." Glick makes himself accessible to clients by giving them his personal cell phone number, which means he can share expertise 24/7. He also constantly checks his messages on Facebook. "That has made us unique right from the jump and continues to this day to keep us in a league of our own." Why A Sprinter? One reason many operators prefer the CEO Jay Glick explains why staying small keeps his business thriving. Reputation And Service Set First Class Customs Apart By Lexi Tucker, LCT assistant editor FASTFACTS FIRST CLASS CUSTOMS LOCATION: Springfield, Mo. SERVICE: Coachbuilder and upfitter of Sprinter Vans, SUVs and limo buses FOUNDER: Jay Glick, CEO FOUNDED: June 2013 EMPLOYEES: 25 WEBSITE: www.firstclasscustomsinc.com CONTACT: (417) 832-0751, Toll-free (800) 862-6899 Sprinter is because fewer limo vehicles are available for stretching than ever be- fore, Glick says. "The platform itself is not modified, so from a liability and safety standpoint, you're not talking about a vehicle that has been cut in half and welded back together. It's solid and well- engineered, and has so many uses lead- ing to wider client acceptance." Corporate business travelers and high-end private customers have made it the platform for retail and business, he says. Glick, who also runs a retail limousine service in New Jersey, says his Sprinter generated more revenue than any stretch in his fleet last year. His customers like it because they can walk on and off easily, and chauffeurs have more range to maneuver than with the larger stretch limos. "The six passenger limo is officially dead unless you are in the funeral busi- ness," Glick says. "The Sprinter draws more customers and has more capacity which brings down your cost per per- son." The company has met all criteria for the Master Sprinter upfitter designa- tion from Mercedes-Benz, and awaits its official certificate. And the biggest selling point? "You can't Uber a Sprinter." VENDOR MARKETPLACE I SEPTEMBER 2016 Above: Jay Glick, CEO of First Class Customs, is always there to help a customer in need, no matter the time of day. Left: Every vehicle is crafted with care and extreme attention to detail.