Thirty-five years ago, Jim Powers was studying and working his way through college, not entirely sure what he wanted to do. Life decided for him. The limo company he worked for part time closed, and he decided to lease a limo and become his own boss. College took a back seat for a time, although he eventually graduated from Nassau Community College. Powers was born in the Bronx and moved as a child with his family to Lindenhurst. He now lives with his wife and three children in East Islip.
How did your business get started? In 1984 I was working part time for a limousine company and putting myself through college. It was the perfect job because while waiting for my clients, I could study. Like any business, you only reap the awards for the time and effort you put into it. After a year, the company I worked for decided to close. So I decided to go on my own and lease a limousine. I contacted all the people I serviced to let them know I was still available to chauffeur them. Not only did I drive, but I answered phones, took reservations, cleaned and maintained the vehicle. Within six months I had so many bookings I had to buy another vehicle. I was on my way. College was put on hold.
What’s the size of your company today? I own over 106 different types of vehicles, from sedans, SUVs, limousines, sprinters, buses, and vintage cars. We now have over 135 employees both full and part time. Our facility is 40,000 square feet, with a commercial car wash, detail station with sanitizers, a full-time mechanic, and around-the-clock reservation and dispatch departments.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face? The biggest challenge in this business is road construction and traffic, especially in Manhattan and the ongoing craziness at LaGuardia Airport. On any given day it can take you over an hour to connect with your client at LaGuardia due to the expansion and construction at that airport.
High-school kids use limos often at prom time. Do you consider it your responsibility to see that the kids don’t drink or use drugs? It is 100 percent the transportation company’s responsibility. We ensure the parents that their children will return back home in the same condition they started out. In our buses we always provide a host or hostess that will provide soft drinks and make sure there are no adult beverages or smoking on the bus. Also, the parent enters into a contract stating the rules and regulations and each promgoer signs a pledge stating they understand that there is zero tolerance for any alcohol or drug use. If there is any drug or alcohol involved at any time, we call the parents and ask them to pick them up immediately.
Do you feel your industry is too heavily regulated? There are some app-based companies that aren’t regulated so without the rules and regulations it’s like legal hitchhiking. I’m all for regulations as long as it’s an even playing field. When you contract through All Star Limousine every chauffeur is background checked both criminally and through the DMV. We also have every employee randomly drug tested.
Has the competition become more stiff over the years? The competition has always been fierce in this business, and I have seen many competitors come and go but then there’s a new company always popping up. We turn over our vehicles every 36 months, so they always have new vehicles and a friendly and competent staff.
How do you keep fuel and other costs down? Insurance is one of the largest costs we have. We put all our drivers through rigorous safety programs and instill safety into our drivers. Also, each vehicle has a DriveCam camera, so there is no question at all whose fault an accident is. So many times, that camera was a godsend when the driver of the other car was at fault but said it was ours. Because we use so much fuel, we shopped around the different stations in our area and we get a discounted rate because of volume.
What keeps you up at night? All Star Limousine runs a truly 24-hour business. So, everything we have in the day from the dispatchers, management, car detailers, etc. mirrors itself in the night. I am so confident with my team that I never have to worry. It’s the people that you surround yourself with that make it all possible.