Management & Operations

Innovative Operator Profile: Business Growth Fuels Expansion

Posted on April 17, 2013

At the suggestion of their daughter, Judy Lewis, the Dugals— Paul and Patricia— started Caz Limo and Tours with two limousines that they purchased in March 2000. Operating out of their home, the Dugals served as their own two-person staff, doing everything from marketing to taking reservations to chauffeuring and cleaning the vehicles. Hoping to pick up some prom business, they began leaving flyers on cars at high schools, and then things started taking off.

Today, they have a fleet composed of limousines, luxury vehicles and more than 27 motorcoaches, including MCIJ4500s. The company boasted a growth rate of 35 percent a year over their first eight years. One of Caz’s most successful business ventures is its partnership with Ithaca, N.Y.-based Cornell University, where it provides staff, students, visitors and faculty with luxury shuttle services from Ithaca to the university’s Weill Cornell Medical College, the Cornell Club, the Cornell University Center for Advanced Computing facility and the School of Industrial and Labor Relations extension office in New York City.

“We started our executive class service with Cornell University in 2004, when they came to us and asked if we’d be willing to do a pilot program for them because they were fed up with the unreliability and high cost of the airlines going from Ithaca to La Guardia,” explains Paul Dugal, sr. vice president, director of operations, for Caz.

The service has grown to six coaches that make two trips daily, seven days a week.

“With Wi-Fi and the ability to use their laptops and such, it’s like a classroom on wheels for them,” says Dugal.  “We’ve only missed one date in four years and that was because the roads were totally shut down because of a storm.”

In fact, the program with Cornell has been so successful that Caz will begin running a similar program for Syracuse University with two coaches.

To help cut down on the cost of new vehicles, Caz has created a sister company, Creative Coach Design LLC, to do all of the conversions at their own facilities.

“We buy the buses as shells and are able to build them at a very economical price, rather than going to the aftermarket and paying a lot more money,” says Dugal. “It’s turned out to be a successful arm of the business.”

Caz also provides a Manhattan express service, has 150 sports team contracts with as many as 10 different colleges and universities in Central New York, and is the largest corporate transportation company in the region.

Dugal says that his operation’s biggest challenge is managing growth and admits that there have been some setbacks coupled to its successes.

Having outgrown its current facility, Dugal and his family plan on building a new 20,000-plus square-foot, LEED-type facility to house its offices, vehicles and vehicle conversion business. The operation also hopes to expand its use of biodiesel as part of its move to go greener.

“We are using biodiesel in some applications, but our biggest problem is when we [are on the road] for a few days because it is very difficult to find on the open market,” says Dugal. “For our local [trips], we are able to use biodiesel, though, and Cornell is looking at providing us with biodiesel there for their runs, which are now up to 14 trips a week.

MOTORCOACHES: 27

FLEET MIX: MCI J4500s, Van Hool

EMPLOYEES: 15

DRIVERS: 40

SERVICE AREA: Northeast, Florida

SERVICES OFFERED: charter, tour, schools, casino and contract

YEAR STARTED: 2000

AVERAGE ANNUAL MILEAGE: 750,000

SR. VICE PRESIDENT: Paul Dugal

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