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Limousine merger provides 200 luxury vehicles for hire (w/video)

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Jan. 29, 2014 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 28, 2014 at 7:29 p.m.

Caroline Christen, 3, of Lincoln, Calif., exits a 10-person stretch limousine with her brother, Nicholas Christen, 5, at a wedding reception at the Spring Creek Place Events Center in Victoria. San Antonio-based company Elegant Limousine and Charter has extended its service to include Victoria.

Sitting behind a polished mahogany desk, Bob Constantine leans over slightly to one side and smiles as he lifts the phone receiver.

"Thank you for calling Elegant Limousine and Charter," he said with zeal. "How can I help you?"

Scribbling the information down, Constantine opens a computer database and books a customer a luxury limousine for a special night on the town next month.

"Yes, sir. We'll get that all squared away for you. Thank you for calling," he responds, before hanging up the phone.

Constantine is alone in the sleek, new-car-smell office on North Ben Jordan Street, formerly Touch of Class Limousine Co.

But the hum of limousine-booking and business acumen surrounds him.

Framed photos of autographed celebrity portraits, smiling brides and grooms standing next to their elegant rides and couples enjoying a stylish night out on the town are proudly displayed for walk-in customers to eye.

In a few hours, Constantine's drivers will be arriving for work, where they'll change into uniform and prep for their job before departing in a luxury vehicle to pick up the clients.

For Constantine, managing a limousine company is not about simply renting a vehicle.

It's about providing quality, elegant chauffeuring. It's about the memories created in the backseat of a stretch.

"We're renting cars, sure. We can get anyone anywhere they need to be in luxury. But we're about more than that. We're creating jobs in Victoria for our drivers. And we're creating special moments for our clients," Constantine said. "We get to play a small part in some of the biggest days in our clients' lives. That's really what this business is really all about."

What started a few years ago as an independent limo company in Victoria with five cars has now exploded into Texas' largest limousine company and the 27th largest in the world, a company official said.

But the business didn't grow alone. Rather, Constantine chose to merge Touch of Class with Kent Mantle's mega-fleet company - Elegant Limousine and Charter.

Mantle's offices in Austin and San Antonio combined with the cars now available in Victoria afford residents of the Crossroads the largest selection of limousines in the state, which he said is greater even than Houston or Dallas.

"Our clients can use any of the cars we offer in the fleet. So if the vehicle of their choice is not in Victoria, we'll drive it in from one of the other locations," said Mantle, Elegant Limousine's executive partner and general manager.

Some of the more than 200, top-of-the-line luxury vehicles to choose from include black and white sedans, stretches, SUVs, party buses, charter buses, executive coaches and antique vehicles such as Rolls Royces for weddings, funerals, proms and other special events.

Inside the vehicles, clients will enjoy soft drinks and ice, crystal glassware, fine leather upholstery, premium sound systems and the assurance of a safe, courteous driver.

"Most of the drivers I hire are law enforcement," Constantine said, who also has a background in law enforcement. "And I try to match up the drivers' personalities and interests with the clients, so they have things in common."

Both Constantine and Mantle said their merger has been beneficial for the success of the entire company.

And their desire is to continue providing excellent, ethics-driven service to residents across the state as well as assisting in whatever capacity they can for charity projects, nonprofits and education programs.

"I know God has blessed me in this business to bless others. We want to give back to the community," Constantine said.

With Victoria attracting an influx of residents, Constantine expects the company to continue to expand and the client base to multiply.

"It's amazing we can now bring a service like this to Victoria, and we're going to make our mark on Texas," Constantine said. "I promise no one will do it better than we can. That's why we did this. That's why we're now the best and biggest."



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