Luxury Coach & Transportation

November 2018

Magazine for the professional limousine, charter and tour industry.

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Page 36 of 75

LUXURY COACH & TRANSPORTATION NOVEMBER 2018 35 His Belmont lot, for example, relies on a well and septic system instead of municipal utility lines. Its property has doubled in value since 2013. e Canadys built a new garage and maintenance facility on the Aiken property, a three-acre lot a few miles from I-20, in late 2017. A commercial building with a few rented out retail spaces serves as the offices and lounge, while the separate 5,000 square foot garage handles maintenance on the motorcoaches. And in early October, they bought a two-acre site in Charles- ton where they plan to build a 2,000 sq.ft. office and 7,000 sq.ft. garage. Owning property provides a stable, tangible asset that undergirds the val- ue of a ground transportation business, especially when it has plenty of room to park and house fleet vehicles. Hard Working Originals Like many successful operators in the industry, Jeff and Laura Canady started with one car, and gradually built up their book of business. Laura, who also serves as a board director of the National Limousine Associa- tion, previously worked as a physical therapy assistant, while Jeff, who has a degree in health fitness, worked in sales at National Car Rental before starting as a one car independent operator at the Marriott City Center in uptown Charlotte. e couple opened CLT Express Livery in 2000 about one year after Jeff had started Bailey's Limousine. CLT's first fleet included a Lincoln Town Car sedan and a stretch limousine. e couple also owns two homes, one in Iron Station outside Charlotte, and another in Aiken, and plans to buy one in Charleston, S.C. As with their businesses, multiple homes in afford- able suburban areas allow them to easily work and travel amongst their three offices and fleet facilities. In Ai- ken, the Canadys adapt their home to a temporary rest and sleep stop for staff and chauffeurs who need a place to stay during the Masters. All company offices and homes are within three hours of each other. "Ultimately, success or failure falls upon my shoulders, as I have numer- ous amounts of employees who depend on my decisions to help enhance their livelihood," Canady says. — guy: Convenience. We can't match on- demand, only near-demand." While CLT uses mostly employed chauffeurs and company owned ve- hicles, it relies on independent opera- tors to work from uptown hotels and be available for overflow demand. "We don't do Uber, but I/Os can. We can't tell them who to pick up as long as they are permitted." Although CLT does farm-ins for major networks and farms out rides for clients heading to destinations outside its service territory, it avoids most local and regional farm-outs, Canady said. "We don't want to give money away to another company. It's cheaper to pay a driver and burn the gas to serve another market a few hours away." Among its farm-in clients are Em- pireCLS, Dav El/BostonCoach, Carey International, and Addison Lee. Its affiliate-related sedan and SUV busi- ness is about 60% farm-out/40% farm- in. Despite the decline in luxury black vehicle demand, the sectors still see peak periods. Jeff Canady in July drove for the first time in five years, and had to again in early October. Property Investments In 2005, CLT moved to its current location, a converted colonial style suburban rancher on a four-acre lot along the Catawba River in Belmont outside Charlotte. It has its own rear access road to a side street in addi- tion to a front entrance onto the main thoroughfare, Wilkinson Boulevard, which runs near the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. CLT Express sees many benefits from its property situation. Canady's approach is to buy large tracts in un- incorporated or semi-rural areas with low property taxes and utility costs. Canady said. "Our market is not geared toward new buses. You just need ones that are nice and on time." On the black vehicle side, the Canadys opt for an all Cadillac and GM fleet, with Escalades, Suburbans, and XTS sedans as their go-to daily vehicles. CLT buys some "newer used" sedans and SUVs from larger compa- nies with higher fleet turnover. "I will never buy a new car off the lot. You buy used with warranties. My fleet is one year or older." e Canadys will run their sedan- SUV fleet for about two to three years in the Charlotte market and then transfer them to South Carolina for another one to two years where the market is less luxury-oriented. e practice adds return value by running vehicles at a zero note. e company also runs 25-40 pas- senger minibuses. For minibuses, vans, and stretch limousines, of which CLT has five, Canady buys new and keeps them for 10 years. Finding Value In Black Luxury Cars Despite the decline of the stretch limousine industry-wide, Canady still finds enough profitable weekend work and a few weekday runs to sustain five of them. "e sedan and SUV busi- ness has flatlined," Jeff Canady says, although his company can still com- mand $85 for an all-in airport transfer in the Charlotte metro region. "We still get the VIPs and special events," he added, as evidenced by framed celeb- rity photos lining two walls of CLT's Charlotte offices. "High end people still use the black cars and Sprinters. ey don't want Uber." However, while those clients may not want Uber, they do prefer faster service. "One word matters for the corporate Jim Canady takes a call in the chauffeurs lounge and storage room in the Aiken facility which becomes very active in early April because of the nearby Masters Golf Tournament in nearby August, Ga.

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