By KELSY LORIN TAYLOR
Web Editor and Feature Writer
DETAILED PLANNING: Joan and Charles Cotton take pride in their detail-oriented company, VIP Limo. The company began in 1991 and has been growing ever since. The fleet is one of the largest in Oklahoma and features knowledgeable and helpful chauffeurs.
Charles and Joan Cotton established Limo in April of 1991. Limo began in the Cotton’s home where the business was operated from the kitchen table. “We have grown our business statewide with offices in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Norman,” explains Charles.
Charles previously had been a national sales manager with the Balfour Company that manufactures class and professional sports rings. “I traveled extensively and thought that some day, I would try to get out of the fast lane, kick back and maybe get into the limousine business.” Charles traveled in limousines for a number of years and it always “seemed to be a fun business to get into. I did some focus group studies here in Tulsa on my own and found that less than one percent of all Tulsans had ever been in a luxury limousine. What a market to jump into!”
Joan was a teacher for over 30 years and is now retired. While teaching second grade at Jenks East Elementary School, she had an idea to take her class on a Christmas Light Tour in a limo. The Cotton’s decided to add a Christmas Light Tour to their business. “It was extremely successful and sold out every night. The Christmas Light Tours have become very popular over the years,” says Charles.
The business grew limousine by limousine through the years. With the largest fleet in the state of Oklahoma, Limo has become a multi million-dollar company. “We have gone from working at the kitchen table to the dining room table,” laughs Charles. All of the ins and outs of the company are still managed by the Cottons and they take pride in directly speaking with all of the patrons.
Limo has significantly changed over time. One of the largest changes in the company can be found in the limousines. The standard limousine has now developed into super stretches and large SUV’s. “It seems like each year the manufacturers add more bells and whistles,” adds Charles.
The Cottons enjoy catering their business to anniversaries, birthdays, proms and many other special occasions. “We also specialize in weddings. Not too long ago, we did a survey and found that over 70 percent of brides in the state of Oklahoma want a limousine. It’s magical to help enhance their wedding,” notes Charles.
He adds, “Joan works closely with wedding coordinators to help plan the weddings. We have done so many weddings that they ask Joan about their weddings and what she might suggest. She works well with the brides and their consultants.”
The Cottons have immensely enjoyed owning their own business and take great pride in making a lasting impression on patrons. Their business philosophy is simple yet effective: to give patrons more value than what they pay for.
Limo has a very diversified fleet including the popular Escalade and Hummer limousines. Even with the new designs, the standard super stretch limousines remain the most popular choice among patrons. For patrons who would like a different option, Limo has a 745 and 750 LI available. The fleet also includes Suburban s and 15 passenger vans for groups that are maybe in town for a convention. “We have something for everyone and every type of occasion,” adds Charles.
Lately, many of the newly designed limousines have unique features. The Escalade limousines have two big screen TV’s in them that face each other with seating on both sides. The Escalade limousines also feature a area in the back. “There are more fiber optic lights than ever before,” exclaims Charles.
The opening of the Center has brought an increased demand for limousine services to the area. “It has been wonderful because people want to get a limousine, go to the concert and have a nice evening out,” says Charles. With many events scheduled throughout the area, the business is sure to grow even further.