Carol Jimmerson has owned and operated a ground transportation company in Las Vegas since 2004. When Executive Las Vegas opened, it joined dozens of similar luxury transportation companies offering chauffeured VIP and executive limousine service throughout Clark County.
What Executive Las Vegas also offered, that the competition did not, was the only female run ground transportation company at that time in an otherwise male dominated field.
“I was a hands-on stay-at-home mom – basically the CEO of my family – before I got into transportation. It was my husband Jim’s idea. He’s an attorney and investing in a small six-car fleet began as a hobby,” shares Jimmerson.
Initially, Jimmerson’s male counterparts did not take her seriously. In fact, they were flat out dismissive.
“I would hear comments like What’s a housewife doing in this business? It was demeaning,” she says. “They would do anything to bypass me and go straight to my husband.”
Not one to suffer discouragement, Jimmerson focused her efforts on producing irrefutable results through a diligent work ethic, lots of patience, and being so good at what she did that they eventually could not ignore her.
“People come around once you prove yourself. You can’t get frustrated or take it personally. Work hard. Do the right thing. Learn from your mistakes – and you will make mistakes – and allow yourself the time to get to where you need to be,” she shares.
“Truth is, it’s the bottom line that counts. You set the tone by being a competent professional. Establish yourself as someone who gets the job done – better than the rest mind you – and let that speak for itself,” she adds.
A few years later, the business transitioned from a lucrative hobby to a significant presence in the Las Vegas luxury ground transportation market when the Jimmersons accepted an opportunity to build a fleet for Steve and Elaine Wynn and the Wynn Resort.
Executive Las Vegas quickly expanded from 6 to 80 vehicles; eventually reaching 240 by 2010. Business was booming.
Then Uber happened.
Uber has crushed the industry, according to Jimmerson, taking a huge bite out of the transportation market share.
“Uber is not regulated in the same way that is required of transportation companies. They’re not subject to the fees incurred with mandatory quarterly driver drug testing; extensive driver background checks; regular driver safety training classes; regular vehicle maintenance,” she says. “And we have well over a hundred drivers and cars!”
It is what it is says Jimmerson.
Executive Las Vegas adjusted accordingly. They downsized their vehicle fleet to 120 cars – which they own rather than lease because “buying vehicles is less expensive. There are certain equity requirements that the Nevada TSA imposes, in the end making it more cost effective to own,” she says.
Their fleet contains sedans, stretch limousines, VIP limousines, SUVs, stretch SUVs, vans, and buses, with vehicle turnover every three years or less.
“We also operate an airport shuttle between McCarran and all major hotels and casinos in the Las Vegas area,” she adds.
“What differentiates us is our focus on unparalleled customer excellence and a niche clientele,” Jimmerson continues. “We’re privileged to serve some of the nation’s, and our city’s, most valued clients and we’re humbled and gratified for the opportunity to do so.”
Jimmerson believes that the challenges of the business necessitate extreme responsiveness and accountability. Excellence in transportation only occurs through attention to detail and the ability to get things done efficiently - always with the customer in mind, first and foremost.
“We go the extra mile for our customers. I’m always available and even give out my personal cell to make sure I’m accessible,” she shares. “I’ve cultivated some great relationships through the years and it’s important to me to maintain the integrity of those relationships.”
It helps that her husband is an attorney.
“Jim is in tune with the quality of service requirements, as well as handling all of the regulatory and legal aspects of the business,” she says. “We both live and die by the success of our service. We honestly feel as bad or worse than the customer if there is a service failure issue. We work very hard to ensure that those times are few and far between.”
When Jimmerson is not working, she values time with her family. She and Jim have four children – only one is still at home. But they all see each other often.
“The business is demanding so I’m not home as much as I’d like to be. So relaxing at home is my favorite thing to do these days. Jim loves to BBQ so it’s perfect!”
Jimmerson has come a long way since taking on a leadership position in a once male dominated industry. She has long since earned the respect of her peers, her 230 employees, and her clients – who range from celebrities to VIPs, executives, convention groups, wedding parties, tourists, and the like. “As the industry has evolved, so has the role of women who are contributing to growing the industry with fresh perspectives and taking it in new directions,” she says.
Jimmerson advises newcomers to the business to stay focused on the goal, work hard, be professional and maintain humility. And never take anything for granted…let your customers know that you appreciate their business. And always do the right thing.
“Above all,” she says, “…dream big, believe in yourself, and stay healthy throughout the journey.”
“Success is not gender sensitive. Whether you’re a man or a woman, you still have to show up and get the job done. If you can manage to combine passion with commitment and fearless execution…you’ll do just fine!”