New coach rolls AES Limo into 30th anniversary
WINCHESTER – Airport shuttles were the business initiative when George Henzel began AES Limousine Service 30 years ago – all with the family’s high top Chevrolet van.
“We’d had this luxury van that we had for the kids to go away weekends … it was beautiful,” Henzel said. “It had all the toys and the velour seats and a TV in it and a whole bunch of stuff.”
Two months later, he and his wife Victoria bought a limousine and AES Limousine Service earned its name. Henzel said his clientele has shifted over the years due to the economy, new technology and the expense of travel.
“Corporate is way down, and our retail business is way up,” he said. “Evenings out, as the economy gets better, people start saying, ‘Lets get a group together.'”
AES drivers provide service for the Northern Shenandoah Valley region and beyond, chauffeuring airport trips, wine tours and special events alike.
Drivers also serve as airport shuttles to children and their families en route to Make-A-Wish trips at a discounted rate. Reservations manager Carolyn Patterson said she has four Make-A-Wish trips booked for the coming months.
The different personalities and specialties of the drivers at AES Limousine Service suit different customers’ needs.
“A lot of people ask for them by name; they have repeat customers,” Patterson said.
As president of AES Corporate Service’s janitorial company and temporary help company as well, quality service is Henzel’s key focus when hiring drivers.
“All of the [AES] businesses are people oriented,” he said. “Anybody can go buy a car, but you’ve got to have the right people that are in them, with customer service skills.”
Coach driver Dan Walters said the entire team takes pride in their work and makes sure to keep the vehicles in good order. He said his clients have always been pleasant, respectful and “upscale.”
“They don’t have to worry about anything, they just sit back and we do the rest,” he said.
‘The rest’ can mean a bit of legwork – drivers will check road conditions on GPS servers, keep tabs on flight times and greet their customers at baggage carousels with signs. Walters said he usually fills his vehicle with balloons for his Make-A-Wish passengers.
AES Limousine Service now boasts a fleet of nine vehicles, from town cars to a limo and a team of 11 drivers.
Henzel’s newest vehicle is an 18-passenger limousine coach that’s still growing in notoriety, with its RV-like outside appearance and its plush and roomy interior, which is in high demand.
Henzel said it hasn’t always been that way: he had to sell a similar vehicle in the past when its popularity tanked.
“When we first got in the business in the mid-80s, all people wanted was black limousines,” he said. “We actually, in 1989, purchased a nine passenger stand up headroom coach … and we couldn’t rent it.”
While at National Limo Association East in Atlantic City to see what was new in the business, Henzel said he learned that “it’s not limousines anymore.”
“If you don’t have a bus, you’re not a player anymore,” he said.
Prom season has ended and service for wedding parties is now in full swing. Henzel said he’s expecting customers in the fall for football games in Washington and other sports events, as well as concerts at the Verizon Center and other nearby venues.
He said he is confident that his clientele will return for their favorite drivers and spread word about the new coach.
He plans to show the coach around to hotels in the area to show them the inside of the vehicle is “a different world.”
Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org
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