Limo Job Cuts..

Boston Coach Limousine Company has eliminated 45 jobs with the closing of an Everett limo hire call centre. Founded in 1985, Boston Coach is part of Fidelity's Devonshire Investors private equity arm, which invests in areas from real estate to biotechnology. The company still has about 1,200 employees, including 800 in Massachusetts.

The company decided to close the Everett facility as it expands a previous relationship with Blue Ocean, a call center operator in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that is part of Canada's CCL Group. It handles calls for other companies and has more capacity to adjust to a rush of calls. However, the 45 employees in Everett will have the opportunity to apply for other jobs at the company. About 60 other employees will remain in Boston to handle calls concerning more complex orders involving international travel or business events.

After years of steady growth, the demand for corporate limo hire has taken a major hit; starting with the Hollywood writers strike last year and magnified by the credit crunch. The collapse of New York financial giant Bear Stearns, a major user of limousines has added to the industries woes. Corporate work accounts for around half of all limousine usage; split between airport transfers and other pickups. Weddings, proms, and funerals make up just twenty three percent of the market, according to figures from the trade. This is not enough to make up for the loss of corporate work.

The job cuts come at a time when rising fuel costs and falling demand are squeezing the limousine industry. And, unfortunately other limo hire companies have laid off staff due to a drop in business. A spokeswoman for Boston Coach said the company had 2006 revenue of $147 million but would not disclose how it has done more recently or discuss whether the downturn has made it more sensitive to costs. While she admitted the entire industry was dealing with lower ride volume this year, she believed that Boston Coach was performing slightly better than the industry overall.

The sad part about any economic downturn is the inevitable job losses that accompany it. While this may cause hardships for some, in the long run the most efficient and profitable operators are the ones who will survive; ultimately this should be a benefit to customers.