Dav EL | BostonCoach CEO Scott Solombrino Talks Travel Tech with NECN

Imagine starting your career as a driver and mechanic, then, decades later, running one of the world’s most elite limousine companies.

Scott Solombrino, the CEO of Dav El and BostonCoach, began driving a limo and now he is the driving force behind one of the biggest high-end transportation providers in the world.

Solombrino talks about how he started the company with just one used Cadillac. Now, he is in 550 markets, driving leaders in entertainment and business.

PETER HOWE:  He began as an 18 year old college student driving a limo now is the driving force behind one of the biggest high end transportation providers in the world as you can imagine this is a man with a whole lot of stories from building the business to driving the rich and famous joining us now President and CEO of Dav El and BostonCoach. Scott, thanks so much for coming in.

SCOTT SOLOMBRINO: Thank you, Peter. Glad to be here.

HOWE:  I want to bring up some numbers that I know will dazzle people. Dav El BostonCoach, owned by Marcou Transportation: more than 3,000 employees; operates 1,700 company vehicles; serves a network of 550 cities around the globe; and generates more than $250 million a year in revenue. So, I know a lot of people going back are familiar with the BostonCoach name, but clearly there has be a lot going on in terms of this company growing and expanding all over the world.

SOLOMBRINO: It’s been really an exciting time and when we put together the Dav El brand and the BostonCoach brand, we created the largest company on the planet in high end chauffeured car. So, it’s been an exciting time to keep these two brands together, keep these brands alive separately, as operating separately, but under really one ownership group. So it’s been really exciting for us.

HOWE:  I think a lot of people are familiar with the concept a roll up. Talk about how you have gone about doing that, going to different cities and taking this business that I imagine is pretty fragmented and centralizing it under common ownership.

SOLOMBRINO: Yes, so what we’ve done is that we’ve basically said we do business — both companies, BostonCoach and Dav El — in all these cities around the world. Let’s own the most important markets in these segments. So we own New York, we own New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Palm Beach, Chicago, San Francisco, LA. Then we said, now let’s add cities that we don’t own that are currently in our affiliate network that we think have critical mass of revenue of $5 million or more and then own those cities as well. And that’s what we are out doing now. We’re doing acquisitions. We’re adding onto the brands, and we’re taking back markets that we don’t currently have a company owned presence, and feel pretty good that the market is right for this.

HOWE: Talk some about the economies of scale or the efficiencies or the value that you get from becoming a multi-city, multi-location chauffeured company.

SOLOMBRINO: The first thing is the biggest capitol cost we have is vehicles.  So we have a huge global deal with the General Motors Company. We’re big on the Cadillac fleet side. We also have deals with both BMW and Mercedes. So when you start to add more critical mass into those programs, the price goes down you get a better deal on vehicles, you get a better deal on fuel, you get a better deal on insurance, and you can start to pull out the efficiencies city by city, market by market, because you’re operating under one cost center.

HOWE: Are there back office scheduling, dispatch, other types of efficiencies?

SOLOMBRINO: We have tremendous technological pull. We have great technology platforms. And we would go in and eliminate the current technology, bring in our own technology and we can run things more efficiently out of our own back-end frame in Boston to cover the other markets. So we’ve built these efficiencies in booking systems, GDS tools, mobile tools, mobile apps, so the efficiency of having everyone under one program has really created some major economic input for us. It’s been really good.

HOWE: You think about customer service, I mean, this is the ultimate one-to-one employee to the person being driven. How do you do that across 550 markets … consistent training and honoring local customs or the way people want to be treated?

SOLOMBRINO: So, we’ve had a partnership for almost 30 years on the Dav El side with the Four Seasons hotel company, which is one of the greatest hotel companies on the planet. And we’ve had the ability to use some of their training expertise of how they’ve been training their employees for the past 30 years. And we’ve pulled together our training systems so that they are all standardized, so that you’re trained the exact same way in Boston as you would be in New York or L.A. or in Chicago. That creates the consistent service level that you want to have throughout the whole system. So each driver will treat you the exact same way in each market in each city.  And we are very fanatical on maintaining training and standard levels. That’s what makes the difference of the high-end chauffeured car company and someone just giving you a ride, like one of those app companies.

HOWE: So give me a few examples of things to look for, how I know I am really getting top-flight customer service in a black car.

SOLOMBRINO: When you come out of the airport and you go to get into the car, the driver should be holding the door. He’d introduce himself by name. He’d address you by your name. He’d put you in the car. He’d offer you water, towlettes. He’d offer you a radio station of your choice. He’d tell you exactly how long he estimates the time is going to be between your trip and when you arrive. There are standards that you would see every single day. You’ll find a magazine on one side of the car; you’ll find a New York Times or Boston Globe on the other side of the car. There are very consistent things and patterns of what you’ll get in each experience. And when you see that consistency day after day you know you’re in a Dav El BostonCoach experience. That’s what the customers talk about constantly. There’s a huge difference between the service levels that we’re providing people and what they get just by going to any company.

HOWE: Right. And in addition to being a big and growing company in your own right your part of Marcou Transportation Group, people have seen the buses with the big Marcou on the side. They also own a lot of other transportation oriented businesses. Talk about sort of how you fit in to that overall picture.

SOLOMBRINO: We’re in the taxi business. We’re in the school bus business. And we’re in the public transportation sector. So we are a true logistics provider from top to bottom, covering all different segments. The Marcous, the family themselves, the two brothers, are prenominal. David and Derek they’ve been very successful in understanding that logistics globally is where you want to play if you want to be in the transportation space.  So we can be all things to all people at all times; we’re not just locked into one segment of the transportation market. So it’s been an exciting experience to be able to broaden my own horizons now and understand those businesses and how they affect us.  We also own SuperShuttle in Boston, which has come from the West Coast and is now available here, which is mass transportation back and forth to airports. It’s used by universities, sports teams, people who have a lower-end threshold on cost. So SuperShuttle is also growing at a rapid pace, and that’s really exciting for us because it’s another vertical that we would never have thought about prior to this.

HOWE: And thinking that a lot of people would say, you know, how much would chauffeured limousines have in common with motor coaches, school buses, taxis … are there kind of efficiencies of scale or ways you can cross pollinate?

SOLOMBRINO: Sure, maintenance, insurance, training, safety programming, GPS purchasing, mobile device purchasing. All of those verticals use the exact same back-end things and what we do is find the efficiencies. Everybody has to have training so what we bring now is bring the high end training down to the other product lines as well to elevate their levels of service. And I think it’s only going to make the rest of our product verticals better long term. Because we think, from the high end side of what our customers want, but it’s no different from what someone would want if they were using a taxi cab experience. So why can’t we just cross pollenate them all — there’re a lot of efficiencies in between.

HOWE: So you have Dav El, you have BostonCoach; do you envision keeping both those brand names out there?

SOLOMBRINO: They’re two of the biggest brand names on the globe, and have been for 30 and 40 years a piece. We believe the brands will survive independently. They both have different product offerings, and we think the marketplace is actually demanding that they survive. So we’ve had a lot of input from our customer base who’ve said, “Hey, if we want to have one experience, we’re going to use the BostonCoach side. If we want to have a different experience, we’re going to use the Dav El side. But the one thing that’s going to be consistent is that they’re all going to get the exact same level of service. If we can do that every day and execute that every day then we’re not worried about any of the competitors.

HOWE: So, what would be sort of the Dav El brand experience verses the BostonCoach brand experience?

SOLOMBRINO: Dav El is a company that did many more boards of directors, high-end C-level executives, very heavily into the Rock and Roll industry, the entertainment industry, the movie business. BostonCoach was always heavily on the corporate side, did a lot more major corporate events on their side of the business. So there is a little bit of a different experience on the client base, but basically a lot of those clients were the same clients, but just had different divisions in different companies that were doing different things. So the needs aren’t necessarily consistently the same, but everybody ultimately wants to have a phenomenal service experience in the back of that vehicle. And if we can deliver that consistently every day, it doesn’t really matter which brand you’re going to, you’re still going to get the phenomenal service that you expect. So we think we’re helping each other to elevate our game on both sides of the brands.

HOWE: Of course I love the back story of BostonCoach: Ned Johnson from Fidelity Investments hated Boston cabs and all sort of awkward, icky thing about tipping. Tell us more about that back story.

SOLOMBRINO: Fidelity and Ned Johnson are phenomenal people. The Fidelity people are the largest, most important client to this day. Ned had a vision that there could be an improvement in taxi service and decided to start his own company for his own executives. Many years ago back in the 1980’s he started BostonCoach. They did a phenomenal job in building the brand and building the company and in those times, tipping was forbidden. Ned didn’t believe people should ever tip, that was just one of his things. Today people can still accept tips.

HOWE: That’s good. I bet they appreciate that. We should go to a quick break but when we come back we will talk more about Uber and how much a competitive threat is it? Also more of Scott’s story, starting at the age of 18 with a $600 Cadillac. … Welcome back to CEO Corner. We’re talking with a man who knows his limousines. He’s Scott Solombrino CEO of Dav El BostonCoach. We eluded before the break to Uber, which has come along, and talk some about how much a business threat that is or is not to the type of limousine service that you offer.

SOLOMBRINO: So I founded that National Limousine Association in 1983, which has 2,400 companies involved on a global basis in the chauffeured car industry and we’re the lobbying arm of the industry. Uber was a phenomenal idea and a phenomenal concept put together by some very smart guys in Silicon Valley. They’ve had huge market penetration and they’ve actually changed and shifted the paradigm of how people use chauffeured cars. It’s been good for business. The problem is, is that they skipped all the regulatory steps. So technically, they’re illegal in many, many places that they operate. They don’t have the ability to use employees; they use independent contractors, which is questionable whether or not that’s legal in a lot of jurisdictions. And so you have a lack of duty of care and safety. I just came back from the Global Business Travel Association’s annual meeting in L.A., which is 7,000 corporations from around the world. I’m president of half of that organization and the chairman of a public company, Concur, an expense management company, got on stage and gave a whole speech about a new partnership they have with Uber. He tried to basically tell the audience that it’s the new standard of duty of care, and people were really mortified by that because they don’t …

HOWE: When you say duty of care, what do you mean by that?

SOLOMBRINO: … Safety for travelers. So that became kind of an issue, became a real flash point. Now the National Limousine Association is about to go on a campaign to say, “Wait a minute, that’s not true. How can you be the standard of duty of care when you’re not regulated properly, when you’ve skipped the regulation process, when you don’t necessarily drug-test your drivers, when you don’t do background checks, when you can’t guarantee how your insurance rating is, and when you’re not actually insuring the cars because you’re using third parties?” So you never really know. Is the vehicle insured? Who is this person driving? Do they have issues that I don’t know about? That’s the difference.  When people are thinking about using transportation, they should look at the bricks and mortar companies that have similar technology because at least you know they’re licensed properly and they’re being regulated properly. We’re a public convenience just like the taxi industry. The reason we have regulation is to protect the public. And these app companies don’t fall into these categories right now. Do they have the opportunity to do that? That would be great, because it will put them on a level playing field, and that would mean the pricing would change, because the cost of being regulated is enormous compared to not being regulated. We follow the rules; we can guarantee our customers the safety that they need and require. These app companies cannot. There’s a big campaign about to happen. Enough. It’s been successful, but the rubber’s going to hit the road, no pun intended. They have to understand what the rules are.

HOWE: Interesting. So how convenient is it to order a Dav El or BostonCoach compared to an Uber? Where are you guys with technology?

SOLOMBRINO: So, look, they definitely changed mobility and how you would book chauffeured car. We’ve spent a lot of time and money developing our own strategy. It’s coming out in September. We’ve been in testing for quite some time and its working very well. So you’ll be able by the end of September to pick up your mobile phone, whether it’s an Android or an iPhone, push a button, watch the car on GPS come to you, get your negotiated rate (Uber doesn’t have negotiated rates) from your corporation and be guaranteed all of the things the compliance department of your company hopes that their travelers are getting delivered to them. We will have the same usability. So I think that it took the industry some time to react to this. I think we were late to the party as a sector in general because we were not necessarily tech companies. But I think that you’ll find that some of the major players in chauffeured car are going to morph to become more technology savvy and become more of a tech play and less of a chauffeured car play, but still have the bricks and mortar in the backend to deliver the service. So I think it’s going to get very competitive very fast. The good news for us is that Uber’s evaluation as of last week was $18.5 billion dollars and they don’t own any assets. Well if I can take the evaluation of Dav El and BostonCoach to $4 billion, $5 billion or $6 billion I’m perfectly happy with that number.

HOWE: That’s a good place to be. Anything you’ve learned from a big IT deployment that you would share with other people, kind of the difficulties the challenges or the things you wished you had known at the beginning of that?

SOLOMBRINO: Yes, I think we wished that we had known and saw that mobile applications would take over in the travel sector as easily as they did. I think we all missed that. Now that we know that, we can now respond to it. So we’re about two years behind, and I think we are going to close that gap very quickly. Remember, we have the largest network; we have 30,000 vehicles in our network that we deal with every single day in non-company owned cities and markets, so we can provide as many cars as anybody on the planet, we just had to get the tech piece right. Now that we understand that the attitudes have changed on how people want to use technology in chauffeured car, we’re now ready to react to that.

HOWE: So talk some about … I mention that there’s incredible seasonality, peak periods during the time of day, how you manage businesses to meet surges in demand?

SOLOMBRINO: You could never own enough cars. We could go out and buy 10,000 more cars and we still wouldn’t have enough cars. You have to depend on partnerships. In 1966 when Dav El was founded, David Kline from New York was a guy who realized that and he started to build these affiliate networks before anyone else did in the entire United States. So we’ve been in this game longer than anybody. We have long-standing partnerships and relationships and we basically go out and we partner with people and say, hey, during the day we might need 1,000 of your vehicles every day in New York on a consistent basis, we will pay you X for those cars and you’re going to be available to us. So we have a massive affiliate network, as a matter of fact, next week is our global affiliate meeting in Boston. All of our major affiliate partners are coming here next week for the annual meeting and we’re going to roll out what our plan is on mobile apps. I think people are going to be very excited by that because Uber has affected the market. They’re doing thousands and thousands of transactions a day. The problem is that they are doing it in markets that they are not properly licensed to do them. We think we can clean that up because we are licensed everywhere and we’ve followed the rules and we also understand where we missed it on mobile applications and now we have addressed it. So, look, I wish I had been a smarter guy and a tech guy. Maybe if I was in Silicon Valley instead of Boston, I would’ve gotten on it a little bit earlier. But we weren’t. We were a bricks and mortar company that had to know morph ourselves into a tech company and I think you’re going to see that from this point forward technology is going to be the most important thing for us consistently on the development side because we don’t want to miss another trend.

HOWE: Fascinating. We should go to one more break. I’ve  alluded to it, it started with a $600 and a Cadillac now its $250 million headed in $6 billion in evaluation we hope. More after our break. … We are talking to Scott Solombrino the CEO of Dav El and BostonCoach. You didn’t start with a hundred foot long Cadillac but a ten year old Cadillac and six hundred bucks when you were 18 years old.

SOLOMBRINO: Yes, when I was a freshman in college at Suffolk University, trying to work my way through school, bought an old used Cadillac. Hired a part-time driver to drive while I was in class and I drove at night.

HOWE: So owning the asset putting it to use when you’re not behind the wheel. Tell us the story how do you get from that to running a $250-dollar-a-year, 550-city business.

SOLOMBRINO: Service, service and more service. When you can convince people that you can deliver a high quality of service, people will be attracted to you and what you are selling them. So by the time I graduated from Suffolk I had a 30-car operation doing $4 million a year. I deferred law school for a year to continue the company, and the rest is history. I never went back to law school. I made a deal in New York, hooked up with the largest company in the country. He got ill, the company was going to be sold to American Express at the time. They were going to change the name. The only thing he had left to leave behind was his legacy. I did the deal. He did financing. I bought the company in New York and the rest is history.

HOWE: So, how, if you were going back, was there anything that would have made that growth story easier for you? Or, it certainly sounds. among other things, that you got a great opportunity that you maximized.

SOLOMBRINO: I was very, very attractive to bankers because we would go out, we would buy cars, we would finance cars and they liked that. They liked the business model at the time. Remember, I started in chauffeured car in the late ‘70s. It was a different world than it is today. The timing was perfect for what I was doing and the environment was perfect, because there wasn’t a lot of competition back then. Now the industry has morphed, it’s become much more competitive. I’m not sure it could be duplicated as simply. But, look, whoever thought Uber would become Uber? All that was an idea and a piece of technology. Now they’ve built themselves into a juggernaut worth $18 billion. So I think there’s still opportunity in logistics in ground, it’s just that that opportunity has changed and shifted. It’s a little bit more technology-centric today.

HOWE: What are some ways that as a CEO it helps you had been there, you’ve been behind the wheel, you’ve driven, you’ve built up the company?

SOLOMBRINO: Listen, you’ve seen it all, right? It’s all about who you know and what the relationships are you have today. so you’re able to kind of pass that on. You also know what kind of service you expect as a CEO, and what your expecting is what the client is expecting. So you can bring that down to the driver level and say, hey, guys, this is how I would want it to be done, so let’s change the way you approach the customer. Let’s give them something different. Let’s do something unique. I think as long as you ‘ve seen it all before, you can always duplicate and make it better. That’s what I try to do every day, find ways, how do we improve ourselves, how do we get better at what we do and keep morphing it to the next level.

HOWE: Excellent. Well, we will be watching with interest as you roll out your version of Uber and wish you the best of luck and continue to grow.

SOLOMBRINO: If you every need a ride, you know where to go, Peter.

 

Lisa Censullo Returns! She’ll Lead BostonCoach’s Best of Boston DMC and Affiliate Network.

lisa cropped for WebWe’re excited to announce that Lisa Censullo has rejoined BostonCoach as vice president to head Best of Boston, our destination-management company, and our network of more than 400 affiliated car-service providers.

“Lisa will lead with vision and inspiration; she’ll help drive both client and affiliate satisfaction,” says Russ Cooke, BostonCoach CEO and Managing Partner.

Lisa was director of MIS at BostonCoach from 1993 to 1997. Most recently she was chief operating officer of Esquire Deposition Solutions, the largest court reporting firm in the U.S.

“I’m very excited to work with the team to provide outstanding experiences for our clients and build and sustain rewarding relationships for our affiliates,” Lisa says. “I couldn’t be happier to embark on this new journey.”

BostonCoach’s JJ Gallant Has All The Right Ingredients

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Position with BostonCoach: Client Development Representative

Years with BostonCoach: Almost 3

Location: Everett, MA

What’s your professional background? How did you get started with BostonCoach?
I’ve always been a natural salesperson — even back in junior high and high school I did really well with fundraisers. Sales is something I know I can do. Before I started here at BostonCoach, I had a pretty extensive sales background as well as a hospitality background from working in hotels and restaurants. When I moved back east in 2003, I got a sales job with a wholesale seafood company and ended up working there for five years. Then the economy hit bottom and everything changed. Around that time, I was really trying to find a sales position that was a fit for me; I didn’t want to take just any position. Because if a company invests in me, I will give them results.

In fact, right before I started at BostonCoach, I got another offer that I was going to take. But I just had a better feeling about BostonCoach. So I was dying to get an offer here instead. Sure enough, BostonCoach called me the day before I started at the other job. Things fell into place and I’m glad I made the choice.

What do you do here at BostonCoach? What’s your role like?
My goal is to find new prospects and companies we aren’t working with, and sign them up. I also work with current clients in order to find new opportunities at their companies. But it’s the new customers that are the hardest to get. That challenge really motivates me. This job takes someone who can hear “no” and not care. I’m known for my persistence.

What do you do to make sure every client or customer has a great experience?
Active listening. It may seem like a sales cliché, but it makes sense. When it comes to dealing with an issue, concern or question, you have to understand what the problem really is. I often say “What I’m hearing is this…” because I’ve learned how to listen and repeat back what I think is going on. When I worked in hospitality, I learned how to deal with the angriest customers and learned that sometimes people just want to scream and yell and throw a fit. I don’t experience that here, but when there is any sort of incident, we resolve it. I offer empathy and sometimes act as a buffer to try to figure out exactly what’s going on.

It’s like playing the Telephone Game, when you hear a story retold many different ways and you’re trying to get a clear understanding of what’s going on. But I’m good at talking to people. When speaking with clients or customers, I always guarantee that their issue will be resolved. It’s all about getting things done.

I prefer the phone to email. Talking is a much better way to communicate than the written word. Sometimes emotion can be misconstrued in text. It’s always good to actually have a conversation.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
First, I like the people here at BostonCoach. Everybody here is great to work with; it’s a good group of people. I think the second thing I like is the work-life balance. The culture here and our CEO, Larry Moulter, really allow for that balance. I don’t feel like I’m on the clock 24-7, and I have definitely felt that way at other jobs. I like that when I go home, I’m not thinking about work and waking up and having the same nightmare, like when I worked in hospitality. But it’s not that stressful here — I like that.

What’s your most memorable experience at BostonCoach?

There are three that stand out:

  • A few years ago, we had a big sales & marketing meeting where all our regional sales directors came to Boston. Our SVP at the time suggested everyone do a video or skit relating to BostonCoach. My group did a video about the corporate office in Boston where we worked. It came out really funny, and we won first prize. A sense of humor is a huge part of my everyday life and I definitely try to bring that to work.
  • Last year riding in the Pan-Mass was great — all of the philanthropy we do here at BostonCoach. We give back to so many different causes and every year we do one major cause. The Pan-Mass ride was especially meaningful to me because my parents are cancer survivors. Being part of the team was a great experience. This year we are doing Bike MS.
  • Another memorable experience was a company breakfast we had celebrating the history of BostonCoach. The CEO and I cooked omelets for everyone — we had a whole station set up. I made home fries and prepped everything beforehand at home. It was great because I got to use my restaurant experience and actually saved the company $2,000. For me, it was another way to get people together and I was able to contribute as someone who works in sales but has other things to offer the team.

What do you do outside of work?
I have all sorts of things going on. I golf a lot. Sometimes I golf with people from work. I have some real estate projects — I manage a few properties and acquire more properties when I can. It’s a good time to be doing that since the market’s bouncing back. And I really love doing dinner parties and cooking for big groups. Even though I don’t want to do it for work, I’m still passionate about food and hospitality. I’ve gained so much knowledge that I can whip up practically anything you want to eat — and you will love how I make it.

What do you think would surprise people about BostonCoach?
I think people would be surprised at how real the executives are. You can basically stroll into any office and have a conversation. Even the top-level people are always approachable. At some companies, you’d never speak to the CEO, but it’s a much different culture here. You feel like you’re on the same team with everyone, from the senior managers to the drivers.

Anything else you’d like to share?
I am not on Facebook — it’s my goal to be the last human without a Facebook account. I like effective, necessary communication. I’m on the phone all day long but I don’t like to call just to chat with people. I’m not that guy. There’s got to be a reason to have a conversation.

BostonCoach’s Manny Pereira Drives “Everything with Wheels”

MannyPereira Location: Everett

Years of service: 8 years this July

How did you get started with BostonCoach?

I started at BostonCoach as a sedan driver. I came in part-time, then I learned I liked the system so I switched to working here full-time. Then, because I saw the opportunity and I had my CDL (commercial driver’s license), they asked me to start driving buses. Now I drive everything here that has wheels on it.

I’ve been a driver for a long time. I used to work at Hertz Rental and did a little bit of everything there. Then in 1999, I started my own limousine business. I had a friend who was doing really well driving limos so we worked together. After 9/11, business became more difficult and I only operated a few cars. That’s when I switched over to working with BostonCoach. I liked the benefits and better opportunities that were here.

What do you do to make sure every client has a great experience?

I will be on time, of course. I always get in earlier and leave for pick-ups earlier so I can scout out the area, do a dry run, and then I always show up 15 minutes before the pick-up time.

What do you enjoy most about being a chauffeur?

I like that we meet different people and we go to a different place every time. I like the challenge of going to new places. You never go to the same location.

What’s your most memorable experience as a BostonCoach chauffeur?

Just yesterday, I was out driving and I saw another one of our chauffeurs broken down. I recognized the car and pulled over to help him out. He had a flat and I told him what to do, and I also took his passenger and brought him back to his hotel. The customer said, “I’m glad you were here.”

What’s your advice to new chauffeurs/drivers?

Be on time. Come into work a little earlier than your pick-up time, no matter what. You will have to check your car, the oil, etc. This gives you extra time.

Best tip for everyday drivers:

Keep your distance — keep your eye on your surroundings. Don’t tailgate. Just drive slow.

Personal / hobbies:

I like to go camping in the summer. We go to the New York lakes or we go to Pine Acres. I like the great outdoors and seeing nature and what God created and what we came here for. When you’re camping, you’re with your family and you can enjoy time with them. There’s no snow and no cold — just enjoying nature.

 

BostonCoach Driver Mike Davis Has Kept the Beat for 17 Years

Mike DavisPosition with Boston Coach: Driver and former chauffeur

Years with BostonCoach: 17

Location: Everett

How did you get started with BostonCoach? What’s your professional background?

I responded to a radio advertisement at the time. I had never been anything like a professional driver — I had a varied background. Life circumstances led me here, so I came in and the interviewers said, “You don’t have to have experience as a driver; we’re just looking for good people.” For school, I went to the Conservatory of Music. I was a piano/keyboard major. My degree was in performance and mostly classical music. I taught a lot of private lessons for a while, including music at a secondary schooI. I taught ages 6-60 and beyond.

What do you do to make sure every client has a great experience?

I was a chauffeur here for 12 years. When  you’re a chauffeur, you have the more formal, one-on-one interaction. When you drive a shuttle bus, like I do now, you’re dealing with a group of people. You fling open the door and everyone piles on with their coffees and everything. What’s very important in the bus is the comfort of the ride — if you don’t pay attention to turns, people can go flying. My thing is to greet people as they enter the bus and say goodbye as they leave. Some people prefer to be more personable and talk to me.

What did you enjoy most about being a chauffeur and enjoy now as a driver?

As a chauffeur, you sometimes go to various places out of state — that can be really enjoyable. With driving the buses, I think the enjoyability is actually the sameness. It’s very predictable and, when other things are on your mind, it’s a solid thing. Boston is a beautiful city — I work out of the World Trade Center. I try not to miss opportunities to look out over the water and enjoy the city.

What do you like about BostonCoach?

I think that there is a strong feeling of camaraderie in the employee sector — the worker bees. When I came for the interview, I figured I would be here a few months. I recall telling someone, “They keep giving you more stuff and making it harder for you to leave.”

What’s your most memorable experience as a BostonCoach chauffeur/driver?

The most memorable moments were driving celebrities in sports or entertainment — people who really impressed me. Carlton Fisk is just the greatest guy in the world. I once drove Diana Rigg, a Shakespearean-trained British actress, who was on one of my favorite shows when I was a kid. Back then she was everyone’s heartthrob, really elegant. I was so nervous when I picked her up. It was raining so I had an umbrella and she came out and I almost poked her with the umbrella as I opened it. And she was so gracious and she said “Very well done.” I spoke to her in the car. She was beautifully gracious.

What’s your advice to new chauffeurs/drivers?

Don’t hit anything! Whatever you do. Don’t hit anything or anybody. Pay attention to the training.

What’s a tip for everyday drivers?

Learn what your particular weakness is. 

What do you do when you’re not working?

I still like to play my instruments — keyboard and drums — and sit on the deck in the sun. Pretty simple.

 

BostonCoach’s Charles “CQ” Quaratiello Brings Humor to Technical Support

 

Charles QuaratielloPosition with BostonCoach: Technical Support Specialist

Years with BostonCoach: 2

Location: Everett, MA

What is your role as a Technical Support Specialist?

As a Technical Support Specialist I focus on desktop support. That means fixing anything and everything that is broken. Sometimes it means fixing computers or BlackBerrys, other times it means fixing a website or working with network issues. It is just a plethora of different things.

When I started here I didn’t know the wide range of issues I’d encounter. I thought everything would be desktop support, but that now includes phone issues, and no two issues are ever the same.

I have a curiosity where, if I’m doing something, I have to know how it works. I started out by “jailbreaking” phones and seeing how and why that technology works. Desktop was a really great way to build a foundation based on satisfying my curiosity.

How did you get started with BostonCoach?

When I worked as a PC technician contractor with Fidelity, someone who frequently used support services told me about a full-time desktop support position with BostonCoach. I interviewed here and the rest is history. 

What do you do to make sure every client has a great experience?

My clientele is actually everyone here in-house at BostonCoach. I think my sense of humor is my best asset in making sure everyone has a good experience. I try to create a friendly, laid-back atmosphere everywhere I go. When I talk with people and joke with them, hopefully it lessens their stress. When I come to your desk, I’m there because you have an issue — but it doesn’t have to be a negative experience.

Tip for anyone who wants to work with me: Open a ticket! So I remember to show up.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

It would have to be my interaction with other people. That’s the most fun. I’ve never met anyone here who isn’t friendly. I would say I’m a social person — it’s very open-ended here when you talk with people. If you can build friendships with the people whose desktops you visit, then it’s even easier the next time you’re there. Being friendly and making connections with others helps you feel like you’re not just there to fix one thing, then never talk to that person again. I learn a lot about people when I’m helping them with things.

What are your most memorable experiences at BostonCoach?

My most memorable times are when I spend an hour at someone’s desk, trying to fix something, and the problem ends up being the most obvious issue that everyone was overlooking, even me. 

What do you do outside of work?

I have been married for two years and I have two kids — my son is five and my daughter is six months — so I spend time my free time with them. We go to the park and I go for walks with my dog. I like staying active. I play paintball occasionally and I train Muay Thai boxing at least once a week. Muay Thai boxing is like mixed martial arts without as much grappling and it’s like kickboxing but you use your elbows and knees. It’s an intense workout and helps keep me in shape. Once you get into a zone with it, it’s very relaxing. I’m also really into medieval-era fiction, especially when it has fantasy elements like magic. I’m reading the Game of Thrones series right now. I want my imagination to continue to grow.

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I used to do a lot of dancing: breakdance, pop and locking, eventually even krump — but I stopped when I started working full-time. Also, I am interested in everything steampunk and would love to have a monocle.

 

BostonCoach’s Lillian Cutter Loves Providing a Service Her Clients Need

Lillian Cutter photo

At BostonCoach, we pride ourselves on providing exceptional service, and we truly value the team members who make it all possible. Let us introduce you to one of our top chauffeurs: Lillian Cutter.

Years of service with BostonCoach: 22 (15 in Philadelphia and 7 in Boston)

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

How did you get started with BostonCoach?  

My husband recruited me to work for BostonCoach. I was looking for a part-time job at the time, and he was working for the company and thought it would be a good fit. Over two decades later, I’m still here.

What do you do to make sure every client has a great experience?

I make sure I do my homework and prep my routes. I pride myself on being prepared, responsible and accommodating to my customers’ needs. I love providing a service that they need, not just one they want.

What do you enjoy most about being a chauffeur?

I really like the variety. I enjoy meeting people and listening to their experiences.

What’s your most memorable experience as a BostonCoach chauffeur?

I once drove a famous newspaper columnist to her meeting with a well-known Boston politician. It was a thrill to meet them. They were very personable and kind. The politician put his hand on my shoulder while complimenting me on a job well done.

What’s your advice to new chauffeurs?

I would tell new drivers to be prompt and prepared. Make sure to always think ahead and have a plan.

Best tip for everyday drivers:

It’s all about keeping plenty of space ahead of you. Space is your friend and will help cut down on your stress.

Personal / hobbies:

I really enjoy gardening, camping and sailing. My husband, who is a truck driver, and I love to drive, no matter if it’s for work or play. We always need to be out and about.

Thank you, Lillian, for your dedicated service, and for taking the time to share your passion for driving and your commitment to your customers.

BostonCoach’s Linda Capo Braves Blizzards to Get Her Job Done

Linda CapoPosition with BostonCoach: Accounts Payable Specialist

Years of service with BostonCoach: 17

Location: Everett

How did you get started with BostonCoach?
I knew someone who worked in the events department at the time, and she told me BostonCoach was hiring. It worked out for both of us — she got a referral bonus and I got a job! I started as a customer service agent. After working in that department for two years, I moved into the billing department. I’d been working there for about two years when I was asked to learn a completely different job — accounts payable — so that I could cover when the woman in that department went on maternity leave. That three-month period of coverage turned into what I have been doing for the last 13 years.

What do you do to make sure every client has a great experience?
I always try and respond to an email within an hour of receiving it, with either an answer to the inquiry or a time frame of when I’ll respond.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
Routine. I love knowing exactly what needs to be done when I walk in the door each day. I also enjoy BostonCoach as a whole, it’s a great company to work for.

What’s your most memorable experience at BostonCoach?
I will never forget the blizzard of ’97. I came in for my morning shift and by the time I left here, it was two days later and I had worked in affiliate relations, automated reservations, fleet control and the call center, helping cover for the people who couldn’t make it in. I couldn’t leave the building, because the snow was piled 3-4 feet high and my car was buried.

Personal / hobbies:
I have a daughter who will be 21 in August. I never thought I could be as proud of anyone as I am of her. Every day she makes me laugh, surprises me and impresses me with how strong and committed she is in everything she does. I also have two dogs who I can’t imagine my life without. Anyone who knows me knows they are my fur babies, and I treat them like my kids.

I have a little photo studio set up in my house and I take pictures as often as I can. I like to take pictures of my friends and their kids for their Christmas cards, family group photos, that kind of thing. I also go on site to take pictures of memorable occasions so the families can enjoy the get-together without having to worry about capturing the memories themselves (I did a 100th birthday party recently and it was so much fun!). I really enjoy photographing food too.

Linda’s dedication to her job is apparent in everything she does. Those who work with her are continually appreciative of her attention to detail and can-do attitude.

BostonCoach’s Narine Ragoonanan Says Driving Is Just Part of His Nature

BostonCoach RGB Logo_180x180@72Years of service with BostonCoach: 19

Location: Everett, Massachusetts

How did you get started with BostonCoach? 

I was new to the area, so while at the bank I asked about any local job openings. I am a cook, so they suggested I take the BostonCoach shuttle to the World Trade Center and ask about opportunities there. I never got off the bus! I asked the driver, Jimmy, how I could get a job like his. He told me about BostonCoach, so I went to their office in Everett. Nineteen years later, I am still here, working as a shuttle driver on the Boston College route.

What do you do to make sure every client has a great experience?

I take my job very seriously and I treat everyone respectfully.

What do you enjoy most about being a driver?

I couldn’t see myself in an office; I like to move around. It’s in my nature to drive. I also enjoy talking with people. And being on the same route, you get to know some of the people pretty well. One time I even gave one of my regular customers some blueberries when he got on the bus really hungry because he’d missed lunch!

It is also very rewarding when clients ask for me by name. They really value what I do, and that makes me feel good.

What’s your most memorable experience as a BostonCoach driver?

Many years ago, when the Everett headquarters was smaller, I was very close to the managers. We were like family. We had potluck lunches where I would bring in mango nectar for everyone; they loved it! We were very close and had a great affection for each other.

What’s your advice to new drivers?

New drivers should apply themselves to their jobs. You need to use discretion and remember safety first.

Best tip for everyday drivers:

Let the aggressive drivers go ahead. Don’t bring anxiety upon yourself by constantly jockeying to get in front. You will still get where you have to go, and you’ll be in a much better frame of mind when you get there.

Personal/hobbies:

I go to temple, I spend time with my family and I cook (I was a head cook in Baltimore many years ago). Philosophy is also a passion of mine and I read up on it extensively.

Narine exemplifies the passion and commitment that BostonCoach has for its clients. He really loves his job and he is not afraid to show it. 

 

BostonCoach’s Lissa Chavarria Stays Sane By Staying Organized

IMG_9817Position with BostonCoach: Events Manager

Years of service with BostonCoach: 15

Location: Everett, Massachusetts

How did you get started with BostonCoach? 

I was referred by a friend over 15 years ago. She knew I was looking to move on from my current position, and said that BostonCoach was a great company to work for. I’ve held positions in the call center, accounts receivable, dispatch, client relations and now events, which has given me great experience in all aspects of our business.

What do you do to make sure every client has a great experience?

I have to be very proactive, detail-oriented and organized. You need to be organized in this position or you will get lost very quickly. My clients count on me to make sure transportation for their event goes smoothly; there’s no room for error.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The people I work with. They are truly like family to me. It’s great to get up every morning and look forward to going to work. We’re not just co-workers and employees, we’re friends and family. Also, being in events, it’s a new thing every day and I love that as well.

What’s your most memorable experience at BostonCoach?

Just recently Boston was hit by a blizzard. As soon as the traffic ban was lifted, my client needed transportation (12 cars) coordinated for his daughter’s 30th birthday. I was managing his event until two in the morning. It was a challenge with the weather, but we made it work. The greatest sense of gratification is when a client thanks you — in this case, in the form of flowers. It’s also great when your co-workers recognize you for hard work.

Personal/hobbies:

I am a mom of two boys. My downtime is spent with them. They play basketball, baseball and football so I am definitely a “sports mom.”

No matter how many details she has to juggle, Lissa makes sure her clients’ projects stay on track. Her work ethic and commitment have earned her the trust and respect of colleagues and customers alike.