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Ten “Rich” Minutes: A Q&A with Cedar Mill Limo Owner Rich Rottier
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Cedar Mill Limousine owner Rich Rottier and discuss his company’s merger with Epic Limo Inc. Here is the entirety of our exchange; my questions/comments in italics, with Rich’s responses listed directly below.
Q: Tell us a little about the history of Cedar Mill Limousine.
A: My brother Steve and I started in 2008. It started out to get us a little more work on the weekends; he built stairs for a company for new houses and I drive for a local excavating company. With the recession starting, we knew we needed a little extra work. My wife Laura and I bought Steve out in 2010, and we’ve just grown from there.
Q: Why was a merger with Epic Limo Inc. ultimately the direction you wanted to go?
A: Everything has been getting busier with the company. We’ve grown every year since we started, and we’re to the point now where, in order to provide the proper service for our customers and to really do it right, it would have to grow quite a bit. To where I’d have to leave the excavating company, or merge with Epic. They got great staff in place already, great facilities and they also have a real good belief in their service aspect of it, which we really liked. We knew our customers would benefit from that.
In this industry, our tagline for Cedar Mill Limosuine was always “Service. Class. Respect,” and just really felt that those three really identified what was missing out of a lot of companies in the industry.
Q: What would you like to say to all your Cedar Mill customers from over the years?
A: We appreciate everything that they’ve always done for us and the support that we’ve had from them. All our customers have been a pleasure to work with and we look forward to the future years working with them and Epic. We know that Epic will take care of them, and I just look forward to continuing on my relationship with them.
Q: What will your role be with Epic Limo after the merger?
A: We will be working with Epic with the transition, helping them. We’ll go through the client list and show them different client preferences, meaning when they travel, how often a year, how often a month or how often a week. And just other little things, some clients like to take a certain way to the airport. How early to be. What door they might come out of the house so you’re not banging on the one door and they’re coming out the other.
Just little things like that to help the transition go smoother, and also just to be here for the clients if they feel they need to talk to me personally about any concerns. We’ll still be around to address those concerns. We want to make this as easy as possible for the customers and Epic, both. Whatever we can do to make this work.
Q: Tell us a about your relationship with Epic Limo and owner Brian Sheely.
A: They’re a good company. We want to make sure that they survive and do well. We’ve seen that they have similar ideals as us, and we’d like to see them succeed in this.
One of the first months they were opened, I came out to talk to Brian. I’ve always had a great relationship with the company. Brian and I have met over the last few years, every now and then we’d get together and talk about different trends in the business and just helping each other grow or how we can better the experience. And also with the rest of Epic’s staff; with Erin and Lisa and Anne. Different customers or if we’ve been overbooked or had a car break down and needed help, they’ve been very supportive and easy to work with and trustworthy. Over the years, we’ve found that it’s hard to find good companies that are trustworthy that will show up with good cars and great chauffeurs. So they’ve been a pleasure.
Q: Aside from working alongside Brian and Epic, what else will you do following the merger?
A: I’ve been with the excavating company 15 years, and I’ll continue with that. My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer back in March. She’s done well, she’s through pretty much all the treatments now, so this will be nice to be able to spend a little more time together.
With this industry, there’s just no time. It’s 24-hours, seven days a week, so more time with the wife and family. I have three
children under [age] nine; they need some of dad’s time, too (laughter). It gets hectic. The kids and my wife Laura will be really excited.
Q: Why do you feel Epic Limo is a good fit for Cedar Mill to merge with?
A: I think for us, and for Epic too, and that’s why we’re really happy to merge with them, is that it’s more than just a ride in a car. It’s about the experience. It’s about the service. Every trip that we do is special. Even our clients that fly out every week, and we constantly tell our chauffeurs, “Yes, they do it every week, but it’s still not a normal way of life, even for them.” They have to catch a flight. They’re going somewhere on that flight to meet someone or do something. So our ride has to be as stress-free as possible. So being early instead of five minutes late is huge, because that five minutes feels like an hour to them. Because the ride shouldn’t be what’s making them anxious. It’s everything after that for the following week, or whatever they’re doing, and it’s the same with vacation trips.
Everything that we do is not a normal thing for the people we’re doing it for. And that’s why we’ve always enjoyed working with Epic; they understand that. It’s just another level of service. An understanding of that is what’s needed. From the front office, to the chauffeurs, to the mechanics… everything. It has to be top-notch.
One thing we really pressed on our chauffeurs is that all these trips have anxiety built in them, already. When you’re five minutes late, you just took that anxiety level a thousand degrees higher. If you’re going to be late, which happens, in extreme cases, a couple times a year, because we’re human, things happen, as long as we get a call from the chauffeur before the pickup time, and we can call the customer before the pickup time and say, “Listen, the chauffeur might be a few minutes late,” and we’ll work with you, whatever we have to do, a refund, etc… But even then, there are different things you can do to take away the anxiety. But if you don’t call, and you show up five minutes late, that five minutes feels like an eternity to them, and that’s the difference. And clean cars, and just everything else that matters.
We were really impressed with Epic’s use of technology; that’ll be nice for our customers and the chauffeurs. A nice fleet, really updated, and they’re buying the right things that people want; a nice variety of limos, sedans, busses and vans. So we’re excited. I think it’ll be a good connection.
We’ve worked with [Epic] over the last four and a half years now, and every year they grow, and grow maturely in the industry. They’ve learned a lot and really implemented a lot of things that we’re impressed with, so it’ll be good.