Then the '80s ended and recession hit. As a service industry, the limousine business was heavily affected by the crashing economy. "It was a whole new ballgame after the economy crashed," Hundley said. "The rule of thumb was 'stay alive until '95.' "

The company did stay alive, mostly by quickly adding sedans to the fleet.

"Even celebrities are starting join in on the business people when requesting Town Cars," said competitor Marvin Miller, president of Advanced Limo in Beverly Hills.

Miller and Hundley estimate that there are about 200 limo services locally, although that includes a large number of "mom and pop" companies with only a few cars.

"The limousine service is remarkably like the restaurant business," said Hundley, who likens himself to a maitre d'. "It has high overhead, a high attrition rate, and it's service-intensive. My staff and I make absolutely sure that the customers are satisfied."

Hundley knows whether a given client prefers a car in black or white, and what kind of bottled water to stock in the cabin.

"We went through two other limo services before finding the Limousine Connection, and I have no intention of looking elsewhere," said Juandolyn Heard, an assistant segment producer for the morning news show on KTLA-TV Channel 5. "They are an incredibly professional organization that has never failed us."

Heard said the KTLA morning news uses the company at least 10 times a week to transport guests to and from the show.

Hundley's pool of 30 chauffeurs undergoes training in everything from personal grooming standards (dark suits, no obvious body piercing) to handling overheard privileged information (don't repeat anything). They undergo drug and alcohol testing and sign an extensive confidentiality agreement.

"Clients take them to parties. They can get confessional, you can get a real inside look at a life," Hundley said. "My drivers are well trained on how to handle these situations. They would never sell a story to the National Enquirer. We want to have long-term relationships with our clients."

Limousine Connection

Year Founded: 1978

Core Business: Providing chauffeured transportation for corporate clients and special events

Revenues in 1993: $1.9 million

Revenues in 1997: $2.5 million

Employees in 1993: 30

Employees in 1998: 50

Goal: To provide consistent, first-class limousine service

Driving Force: Ability to keep up with the rapidly changing trends in the limousine industry.

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