Scott Solombrino has been in the limousine business since he was 18, but he recently landed his dream job, running the combined operations of his Dav El chauffeured car service with BostonCoach, the corporate limo company started by Fidelity Investments. He spoke recently with Globe reporter Beth Healy about a business fueled by celebrities, Cadillacs, and technology. Here’s what she found out:
1Solombrino grew up in Revere and was the president of his high school class. He went to Suffolk University in Boston because he needed a schedule that would allow him to commute from home and start a chauffeur business.
“I bought an old limousine when I was a freshman in college with my last $600,” Solombrino said. “By the time I graduated, I had about 30 cars. I was going to go on to law school, and I deferred it. My lawyer and accountant convinced me that I had a real business because I was doing about $3 million a year when I was 21.”
2He sold his high-end chauffeur business, Dav El (“Dave-El”) in March to Marcou Transportation Group of Waltham, which last year purchased Fidelity’s BostonCoach. Solombrino was named chief executive of the combined operations, with 1,800 owned vehicles, 3,100 employees, and projected annual revenue of $250 million. He also inherited BostonCoach’s large Everett headquarters and technology.
“Their information technology is just amazing — better than anything I could have imagined.”
3He’s not a gambling man, but he’s confident that a new casino in Everett will bring him clients.
“I think Wynn’s going to build a much more elaborate casino, which would mean more high-end business. We’re really excited about this. We’re one of the largest employers in the city of Everett, and for us having a casino in our back yard — I think it’s going to help our real estate values.”
4He won’t dish about clients, but his business is full of film and rock stars, as well as hedge fund managers and Wall Street types. And they like a touch of glamour. In his first three months on the job, Solombrino spent $20 million to replace the entire fleet with Cadillacs, including Escalade SUVs.
“What [was] I doing during Joan River’s funeral? I’m watching all the TMZ’s and newscasts to make sure my cars are the ones getting on TV. We had a lot of cars there, because all our clients went to the funeral. When I see TV, I look at who’s getting out of what car.”
5He wore silver elephant cufflinks on primary day and carries three cellphones. One is a flipphone.
“I refuse to give this away, because this is the most comfortable phone in the world. I love this phone. Dav El had these for all their drivers, so I packed them all up. I have a couple thousand hidden away, so when I break one, I just take another one out. My kids think I’m insane.”
6The rise of ride sharing service Uber gets him pretty worked up, mainly because he feels they’ve sidestepped the regulations he and others have to live by. His company is launching a mobile app in October to compete with Uber.
“It took us a while to figure that out, because we were all kind of like deer in the headlights and didn’t realize what had happened. But I realized when the Wall Street Journal said they were worth $18.5 billion, I could be a strong number two and be worth $10 billion. That sounds pretty good to me, and I think we’ll get there very quickly. So the fight’s coming. We’re on.”
7He still has a minority stake in the limo company and, at 54, doesn’t sound like he’s planning to bow out any time soon.
“I work 20-hour days, always have. I travel 200 days a year. I live on airplanes. I go out and touch people, and make sure service levels are right. I go to operations. I go to sales meetings. And I’m constantly on the move, working, and am totally addicted to my job and always have been. And I’m having the time of my life because I’m getting to do it in a bigger sandbox.”Beth Healy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @HealyBeth.