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Limo operators expand services despite competitors' opposition.

Northern Ontario limousine service operators are providing an increasingly diverse range of services to the public, even though their presence is not always welcomed by the competition.

That was Keith Cooper's experience when he first opened Cooper's Limousine Service in New Liskeard.

When Cooper started his two-stretch-limo operation one year ago, the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission objected to his application for a public vehicle licence.

That's because his main goal was to provide door-to-door transportation from Kirkland Lake and the Tri-Towns to Toronto.

For a 20-minute medical appointment in Toronto, northerners taking public transportation frequently spend three days away: two for travel, and one for the appointment itself.

Cooper offers a one-day return trip, charging $170.50 per person.

He also has $250-per-person packages for concerts, baseball games and hockey games, which include a game ticket (Level 1 at the Skydome) and motel room, as well as driving the customers to their motel, dinner, game, and a bar afterwards.

The business, which he financed through a bank loan, averages three passengers per day, year round. During the Christmas season he often has two cars running to Toronto daily.

"We are taking a lot of cancer patients, and we're taking people who have never been in the city before," notes Cooper.

But while it is the major focus of Cooper's business, long-distance trips are only a minor aspect of Skyline Limousines' in Sault Ste. Marie.

Michael Theisen, who bought the eight-year-old firm two years ago with his partner Robert Campana, says approximately 75 per cent of their business is airport work.

Probably 60 per cent of that business is corporate accounts, with hotel pick-ups and students accounting for much of the rest.

Skyline also does work for the airlines to other northern communities and provides distance packages to Toronto, Detroit, Windsor and Green Bay, Wisconsin. The price of a trip to Toronto is $850 including GST.

About 20 per cent of the Sault company's business is special occasion - weddings, graduations and anniversaries - as well as contract work for local funeral homes.

To serve their customers' varied needs, Skyline operates two white, stretch limos, four Lincoln town cars for airport work and one seven-passenger, extended Astro van.

Theisen entered the limo business as an extension of his family firm, Gorman-Theisen Co. Ltd., which sells bridal fashions, sells and rents men's formal wear and does professional photography.

They did not realize weddings would be the smallest part of the business, Theisen notes, although he adds that aspect is increasing.
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Report on Transportation & Travel; limousine services in Ontario
Author:Smith, Marjie
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Dec 1, 1992
Words:416
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