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Entrepreneur Profiles , Richard Watson and Robert Watson

Brothers Richard and Robert Watson didn’t decide to go into business together until they’d both experienced layoffs and more than a few bad jobs.

“Economy played a big part of the timing,” Robert said. In 2001, the Coronado-raised brothers cashed in some credit and vehicle leases and started Avant-Garde Limousine with father Tom Watson acting as a silent partner.

Once they realized that 40 percent of limo services in San Diego were not licensed at that time, they decided to become one of the few companies to do things right, by the book.

“What sets us apart is that we’re family oriented,” Richard said. “We’re small, yet large and we know our customers by name.”

After working in San Diego County for the last six years, the Watsons decided they’re ready to take the business national. Soon, Avant-Garde will handle traveling services for local clients by working with affiliate businesses throughout the country.


VITALS

Names: Richard and Robert Watson.

Titles: Co-owners.

Company: Avant-Garde Limousine LLC.

Company address: 6156 Mission Gorge Road, Suite I, San Diego 92120.

Company phone: (619) 281-0900.

Year founded: 2001.

Average hours worked weekly: 50.

Source of startup capital: Personal cash, advances from credit and vehicle leases.

2006 revenue: $736,000.

2005 revenue: $450,000.

Number of employees: 23.

Web site: www.limocharters.com.


RICHARD’S BACKGROUND

Birthplace: Okinawa, Japan.

Education: Bachelor of Science in business administration with an international emphasis, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Prior business experience: Six years in banking with Bank of America; four years in advertising and marketing with Nestl & #233; USA.

Age: 36.

Current residence: Serra Mesa.

Family: Extended family in San Diego.

Hobbies: Animals, sailing, San Diego Padres.


ROBERT’S BACKGROUND

Birthplace: Okinawa, Japan.

Education: Bachelor of Science in criminal justice, California State University, San Bernardino.

Prior business experience: Three years with Coronado Livery, five years in security and hospitality with Wackenhut and Hotel del Coronado.

Age: 37.

Current residence: La Mesa.

Family: Wife, Meghan; 6-month-old daughter, Madison.

Hobbies: Soccer referee, travel.


JUDGMENT CALLS

Reason for getting into business: We both had layoffs in our fields and wanted more control of our careers.

How we plan to grow the business: Continue building corporate account relationships and expand to additional cities.

Biggest plus of business ownership: Building our business from the ground up into a profitable enterprise.

Biggest drawback: High cost of governmental regulations.

Biggest business strength: Our employees.

Biggest business weakness: Seasonal demand fluctuations.

Biggest risk: Having multiple vehicles with passengers exposed to hazards on the roadways.

Smartest business decision: Hiring a business development consultant.

Biggest business mistake: Not getting into the corporate market sooner.

Toughest career decision: Changing fields completely.

Biggest ongoing challenges: Gaining new business and competition in the industry.

The most important part of our business: Our relationships with clients and employees.

Our business works best when: Everyone communicates effectively.

Best way to stay competitive: Quality of service and price.

How we measure success: Hearing positive feedback and getting referral business while recognizing growth each year.


GOALS

Goals yet to be achieved: $1 million in revenue and 100 corporate accounts.

Our five-year business plan: Have a network of affiliates nationwide.

We would sell our business only if: We were ready to retire.

Guiding principles we will continue to follow: Focus on exceeding our clients’ expectations for reliability and high levels of service.

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