What does it take to become a Unique Limousine chauffeur? Well, it’s a lot more than just a suit and an airport sign. The bare minimum qualifications include, but are not limited to:
1. Over 25 years of age
2. Clean driving record
3. No criminal background of any kind
4. Pass a pre-employment drug and alcohol test
5. Neat, clean and professional in appearance
Those first five pointers can get someone through the front door, however, it doesn’t guarantee anything. Potential chauffeurs are evaluated for personality and commitment to service qualities. Once this point is reached, and we feel that an applicant could be a great addition to our team, they are evaluated on their knowledge of the area and the surrounding states. If a potential chauffeur doesn’t know a particular area, and is willing to learn, we can work together in accomplishing that goal. Finally, each potential chauffeur gets individualized, one on one behind the wheel training. It’s not just “driving the car”, however, a nice, comfortable ride is critical too.
At this point in the process, at least four different staff/management members have worked with a potential chauffeur, and together, it’s decided if this person will make the final step and chauffeur our clients. Our bottom line is very simple and very clear…once a new chauffeur is able to safely drive for our family, only then are they able to safely drive for yours.
Two little side notes…Unique Limousine still has the original three chauffeurs that helped us to start the company back in 1982. Our chauffeurs average nine to eleven years experience with our company. We are very proud that all of our chauffeurs are part of our “Unique” family.
After serving his country in the United States Army, Jim came home from Korea and asked his parents for a loan of $1,000.00. In 1964, that was quite a bit of money, and they willingly loaned part of their life savings to him. Jim opened up a gas station, then another, and another, until there were five in all. In 1965, a certain customer who would stop in and buy fifty cents worth of gas at a time caught his eye. In July of 1966, Jim and Josie were married, and not too long afterwards, the babies started to show up. While in the gas station business, Jim thought it would be a good idea to branch out some to help support his growing family. He already had two service bays attached to the gas station, so he bought the region’s very first commercially built tow truck. That’s right, actually built by a manufacturer, not a “home brew” of pipes and chains welded together in someone’s back yard. It was pretty fancy, and definitely revolutionary. While waiting for the new tow truck to come in, they wondered what color to paint it. Everyone else’s “home brews” were black, red or white. As a result, he chose purple, because it was different than everyone else’s. Dodge’s Plum Crazy to be exact. Even then, Jim’s entrepreneurial spirit was strong and stood out to everyone he came in contact with. He was contagious with enthusiasm and the willingness to work toward his dreams of providing a decent life for his young family.
There was “The Bug Shop”, a Volkswagen sales and repair facility. Ever own a real Bug, back in the late 60’s? There’s a very good chance that you took it to the Bug Shop on North Sixth Street in Harrisburg for any repairs. There were also the gas stations along riverfront in Harrisburg. Also in the 70’s, there was Arco’s “Red Ball Service”, and we think that a few of the red balls are still hiding out in toolboxes and storage areas. They were given away by the handfuls. Jim and Josie’s young daughters thought it was fun to “jump on the bell”, the black hose that rang in the garage whenever someone pulled up to the gas pumps. The bell signalled someone to come out and pump the gas, check your oil and clean your windows. Yes, it was real full service, and it came standard those days. For the little girls, it was just a fun thing to do.
Jim always had amazing vision for the future. He had this idea where you could stop in at a local repair facility, and have your oil changed in thirty minutes or less, and actually wait for it to be completed, instead of dropping it off in the morning and having to leave and return hours later to get your car back. The first “Speedy Oil Change” was opened on the East Coast, and it failed miserably. He was just too far ahead of his time. About ten years later, they opened everywhere, and continue to be a staple in the American landscape. Another company Jim and Josie had was “Spare Wheels”. Spare Wheels was a used car rental company that catered to local folks who either didn’t have their own car, only had one family vehicle, or perhaps, whose car was in the shop. Many people didn’t yet carry credit cards, so it was OK to pay your deposit in cash. There were also some customers who would chip in together to pay the $9.95 daily rental fee, and get all of their weekly grocery shopping and errands done in that one day. That business was very successful until insurance rates skyrocketed in the early 80’s. That was the end of inexpensive, reliable rental cars for quite a long time.
At this point in time, Jim still had coarse, strong, black hands on his muscular arms. He was used to “working for a living”, every single day, and his hands were dark because of the oil and grease that he worked with every day. Many times, Jim would be out on the road performing repairs or towing a truck into the shop, and Josie would be at home with a baby on each leg and a phone in each hand, as she was also the secretary/dispatcher when all the guys were out on the road.
In 1977, the last of four daughters were born. Please keep in mind, Jim and Josie were going to have a house full of boys, and they were going to work with their dad in the family business. Well, four daughters later, they realized that they just might have to alter that dream a bit. Jim continued to work long days and nights to keep a roof over their young family’s heads.
The daughters continued to grow, and Jim and Josie moved their family into a more comfortably sized home. On the rare chance that Jim had some time off, he was home a little early one evening, and while Josie was preparing dinner, he snuck away to the “reading room” with an Entrepreneur Magazine tucked under his arm. He found the magazine in a wrecked vehicle that he had towed in. About forty-five minutes later, he emerged and said to Josie, “I think that Harrisburg is ready for a limousine service.” Her comment? “Go for it!” Fortunately for everyone, Josie continues even today with an amazing amount of faith in Jim, and is steadfast in her commitment to be his biggest and best supporter.
In 1982, Unique Limousine, Inc. was born. There were learning curves, there was licensing fees, and a lot of time and patience involved. Remember those coarse, black hands? Jim covered up his “working man’s” hands with black leather gloves, wore long sleeved shirts under his suit to cover his Army tattoo, and had perfectly spit-shined black shoes on to go with his new black chauffeur’s uniform. At first, he couldn’t give the services away. So, he relied on one thing that will never go away…human curiosity. Having no marketing experience, Jim would take the girls to school in their limousine; they went to friends’ homes in their limousine, anything to get it out in the public eye. One of the bigger stunts he would pull on a regular basis was to go to downtown Harrisburg and park in front of the state Capitol Building. He would wear his uniform and chauffeur’s hat, and proudly stand next to the limousine, “waiting” for his client that wasn’t coming out of the Capitol. Of course people stopped and asked, “Who are you driving?”, “Are they famous?”, “What’s it like in there?” Ever the salesman, Jim simply responded that he couldn’t divulge his client’s identity, and yes, they were famous. Jim would hand out business cards and it caught on, slowly but surely, and Unique Limousine was up to an average of one trip a week and it grew from there. When the family reached the point that Unique was averaging one trip PER DAY, they knew that they had made the big time!
The 80’s continued to be a time of growth for all of the companies. Jim and Josie built their first building on a piece of land they had purchased a few years before. It was a “huge” 7,000 square foot facility with about 2,000 square feet of office space. The towing company, the trucking company, the large truck repair facility and the limousine service were all being operated out of this one location. There were vehicles and people coming and going at all hours of the day and night, business was booming, and the Salinger’s were on fire.
On May 12, 1987, the world stopped for the Salinger Family. Jim had a cerebral hemorrhage, and should have died. His bleeding was in the back of his head, near the neck, and was inoperable. Should the bleed continue, it would kill him, and that’s what the doctors tried to prepare Josie for. Because of the family’s strong sense of faith, Josie immediately started to pray. She asked everyone she knew to pray for Jim’s survival and recovery, and they prayed. The next day or so was very touch and go, and he survived that hurdle. His bleeding stopped. Eleven days after his hemorrhage, Jim went home. His strong, tough and indestructible body was now mushy as Jell-O. The day after he came home, he walked about 80 feet from the front door to the mailbox, got the mail, and walked back to the house. After that adventure, he slept solidly for hours. For the next several months, he pushed himself a little harder every day, and before long, the only evidence of any traumatic event was an occasional confusion of words. The word confusion lasted for over a year, and slowly went away. He has had a complete recovery, and his team of neurologists, doctors and nurses all agree that he is a walking miracle. The family simply believes that it wasn’t his time yet, and that Jim still had a purpose to fulfill here on Earth. Jim and Josie also took this as a sign that Jim needed to slow down a bit to enjoy life.
During his recovery, Jim moved his office home, into the family garage. During that time, a revolution was taking place in the world. Computers were here to stay. With one of his daughters now learning about the things you can do with some spending money, he gave her a job. All of the year’s paperwork was to be entered into this new computer. And the proverbial string attached…”Don’t get it wrong”. At 14, it sounded OK to both daughter and Dad. While he was out recovering, the towing and trucking businesses tripped and faltered a little. They were still strong, but some of the heart that Jim had in them started to pull away and lean toward the limousine service.
In the early 90’s, both the trucking and towing/repair divisions were sold off, and now, it was just Unique Limousine. Now was the time that it needed to grow and be an independent entity all by itself. All of the efforts that were previously shared between the three entities were now being dedicated to this little company with big potential. It was a more refined, clean and all–around different business to be involved in. People were happy to see the chauffeur and limousine pull up, instead of grumbling about the tow truck that just took their car away. The Harrisburg location was steadily increasing in number of clients and vehicles, and the decision was made to grow the company as a whole. Jim and Josie purchased White Rose Limousine out of York, PA, and then a couple of years later, to complete the triangle, they purchased Lancaster/Keystone Limousine out of Lancaster, PA. To better serve the West Shore of the Greater Harrisburg area, Josie purchased Villa Limousine as well. Those additions brought in different types of work, like airport shuttles and funeral work. The funeral work means that the company provides hearses and limousines, or “family cars” to some of the funeral homes that don’t have their own vehicles. Over the next few years, there were additional smaller companies that were purchased and absorbed into the three main locations. The Harrisburg office moved down onto North Cameron Street, near Herr Street, which proved to be a source of great exposure. People were now routinely seeing the vehicles, employees and chauffeurs, and feeling like they were getting to know the company as a whole.
With all three locations functioning independently and having three very different identities, they realized that there had to be an easier and better way to do this. At that point, a very critical decision was made. All companies now came under the “Unique Limousine” umbrella. In hindsight, it was a no-brainer, but then, it was pretty scary and possibly turbulent, as two wonderful groups of people were losing their company identities and taking on a new one. Fortunately, it was the right move at the right time.
In the early 00’s, Unique Limousine had grown to the point that the location on North Cameron Street in Harrisburg was just too small. They couldn’t fit half of the vehicles inside the building, even if they were stacked on top of each other. It was time to move. They built another building up on Crooked Hill Road, and this time, it had plenty of room to grow. The new building, all 60,000 square feet of it, was ready for occupancy on December 31, 2001, and that’s when Unique Limousine moved in. All the vehicles were finally garaged inside, and now have a wonderful place to call home. As they settled into their new home, the limousine industry started to take a big turn to the right. They started taking full sized SUV’s, and “stretching” them into limousines. In 2004, Unique Limousine purchased it’s first twenty passenger Stretch H2 Hummer, and hasn’t looked back. Today, Unique Limousine has vehicles as small as minivans and Lincoln Town Cars, as large as a 28 passenger party bus, and a thirty-five passenger motor-coach, with everything in between. With over sixty vehicles in the fleet, you’re sure to find something to satisfy that “Unique” tooth. The company has also expanded into meetings/conventions and road shows, enjoying those challenges that are unique to that kind of work. Unique Limousine provides you with individualized service for that one very important guest up to groups of a thousand or more, all with the attention to detail that you need and deserve.
Today, Jim and Josie are starting to relax a little. Jim got an amazing Harley Davidson motorcycle from Josie for his 65th birthday in 2007, and Josie is enjoying being “Grandma’s Limousine Service” for their beautiful grandchildren. Jim’s in the office every day, but if you stop in on a warm, sunny day, don’t be surprised if you “just missed him”, because he heard the road calling his name. As for that word “retire”….that’s what you do when you put a vehicle in the shop and get new “round, black rubber shoes” on it…re-tire. We look forward to helping your family be successful today!