The Online Author at VIP Limousine

Greetings to all who read our blog!

Generally, this has been composed as a representation of the company itself in the third person or referring to the team as “we.” This one is a bit different, because I’m going to speak for myself.

My name is Philip Keeve. Some call me Phil, but in business I go by Philip. I’m a native of Liberty Lake, a small town near the Idaho border in Washington state. I play cello on the side, I am a politics, news, and travel junkie, I ski more than is probably reasonable, and I love transportation; specifically, planes, trains, and automobiles. Mobility is a passion of mine. I graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, just outside of Chicago. After my time there, I high-tailed to Salt Lake City for mountains and opportunity. I’m currently in graduate school at the University of Utah and have the distinct pleasure of serving with this company as the assistant manager.

Yours Truly pictured here. Photo credit: CJ Strong
Yours Truly pictured here. Photo credit: CJ Strong

It has now been one year since I was drafted into management at VIP Limousine. I didn’t think I would be involved in transportation, let alone the private sector or small business, when I moved to Salt Lake City. But now, four years after making Utah my full-time home, here I am.

You might ask why I’m writing this particular posting. Shouldn’t the blog be strictly about the company? Rest assured, it still is. I want to take time to reflect on the ride that has been the last year or so.

Rewinding to the end of January 2017, around the time of the update post from El Rocoto, and we had all the makings of a business that needed a revamp. While we have continued to have some solid fundamentals, we had an antique website, no management of marketing or social media, a mishmash of vehicles that needed some TLC, out-of-touch pricing and costs, and a management system that wasn’t working.

I’m not going to claim complete progress or complete perfection. That’s not realistic. We at VIP Limousine have a lot of goals still on the table, but we have established ourselves once again as Utah’s favorite black car and limousine service, with 5 stars on Facebook, 4.8 stars on Google, and 5 stars on Yelp.

Our office manager works long hours to properly dispatch and take reservations. I have made ourselves known online and gotten everything shipshape, as well as overseen all of the vehicles. Our programmer has constructed a shiny new website for us. Our chauffeurs keep striving to offer the best service around while simultaneously looking to up their game.

The collapse of All Resort Group brought us a fresh crop of great chauffeurs and a wonderful set of new clients, whose needs we have been able to meet or exceed. We have beautiful pictures and regularly-functioning social media accounts. Our videographer has helped us create funny ads for our services (including the one below for Valentine’s Day 2018). Every member of our team interacts with potential or current clients through a variety of media in a timely manner.

Essentially, we have come together and built up. And not only am I far from done, we as a whole are not done either.

As our clients deserve the very best, whether a long-time regular or a first-time booking, we are constantly looking at possible improvements to our services, our fleet, and our team. That definitely includes my own self, as I seek ways to continually tweak what I do, the example I set, and lead effectively.

None of it, however, is possible without our team of chauffeurs and our clients in Utah and from around the world. We have decades of combined experience behind our steering wheels, and we work with a wide variety of affiliates, including but not limited to Elite Limousine Plus, LTS Nationwide, STS Limousine, Crown Limo, Motor City Limousine, and BLS Limousine.

With our increasingly-wide network of clients and affiliates, strong service, and attention to detail, I’m proud to be a part of a company that is Driven. Better.

Going Local: Jon M. Huntsman, Sr.

Jon M. Huntsman, Sr., with his wife Karen. Photo credit: philanthropy.com
Jon M. Huntsman, Sr., with his wife Karen. Photo credit: philanthropy.com

Today, Utah lost one of its all-time greats in the state’s short history. Jon M. Huntsman, Sr., passed away at the age of 80. He will be forever known as one of the great minds, businessmen, and philanthropists in the region.

Jon Meade Huntsman was born in Blackfoot, Idaho to a family steeped in education pursuits. His father attended Stanford for graduate studies; the young Huntsman graduated from Palo Alto High School and attended the University of Pennsylvania on scholarship, subsequently completing graduate work at the University of Southern California. Huntsman got his start in the plastics industry there, eventually branching out on his own to found the Huntsman Container Corporation and, eventually, Huntsman Chemical.

Huntsman Chemical in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo credit: The Boyer Company
Huntsman Chemical in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo credit: The Boyer Company

Huntsman Chemical was started in Salt Lake City in 1982 and became extremely successful, between innovation, acquisition, and expansion. The business is still in the family but is also now publicly-traded.

The Huntsman Cancer Institute overlooks the Salt Lake Valley from the University of Utah. Photo credit: huntsmancancer.org
The Huntsman Cancer Institute overlooks the Salt Lake Valley from the University of Utah. Photo credit: huntsmancancer.org

Philanthropically, Huntsman has given billions to charity over the years. His most prominent project has been with the Huntsman Cancer Institute, located next to the University of Utah. A four-time cancer survivor himself, HCI became closely personal to Huntsman and the rest of his family, and it is on track to be one of the largest cancer research institutes and hospitals in the world. Huntsman was also a major factor in the success of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, giving generously to the cause. In addition to the HCI and the Olympics, Huntsman has backed education at the University of Utah, University of Pennsylvania, Utah State University, Southern Utah University, and Brigham Young University. Huntsman was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served as a mission president in Washington, D.C. Huntsman Sr. also served as an Area Seventy from 1996 to 2011.

The Huntsman Center is home to basketball for the University of Utah. Photo credit: stadium.utah.edu
The Huntsman Center is home to basketball for the University of Utah. Photo credit: stadium.utah.edu
Jon M. Huntsman Hall at the University of Pennsylvania. Photo credit: hillintl.com
Jon M. Huntsman Hall at the University of Pennsylvania. Photo credit: hillintl.com

The legacy that Huntsman leaves behind also includes all of his honors. These include multiple awards from his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, while he was an undergraduate student. He also received awards from Armenia, Cuban Americans, the American Academy of Achievement, the Freedom Foundation, and the Caring Institute. Further recognition includes the Horatio Alger National Award, Entrepreneur of the Year from Ernst and Young, the American Red Cross, the American Cancer Society, emeritus recognition from the University of Pennsylvania, induction into the Idaho Hall of Fame, the National Award for Charity, Innovator of the Year from The Wall Street Journal, recognition from Insider and Fortune for generosity, 13 honorary doctorate degrees, and the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy. There’s no questioning of the man’s generosity to his community locally and around the nation, let alone the world.

Huntsman was greatly involved in politics, though he never held elected public office himself. He worked alongside the Nixon administration in its first term and played a key role at the state level for the elections of Reagan and Bush Sr. He took positions in the Bangerter administration and helped his eldest son, Jon Huntsman Jr., during his presidential run in 2012, ultimately endorsing Mitt Romney. He wasn’t an enemy, though, of different ideologies. Friends included Glenn Beck and Harry Reid, and he endorsed individuals of both parties over many years.

Jon M. Huntsman, Sr. leaves behind 9 children and 56 grandchildren. His second-eldest son Peter is the CEO of the Huntsman Chemical Corporation as of 2000 and also runs the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper. His eldest son Jon Huntsman Jr. is currently the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, having formerly served as the U.S. Ambassador to China, Singapore, and as the governor of Utah and a Huntsman Chemical Executive. Huntsman Jr. has also served in the Brookings Institute. Huntsman Sr.’s granddaughter, Abby, is a reporter and host for the Fox News Channel.

Clearly, in the Huntsman family, giving and serving others is a way of life. It started from the top with Jon Huntsman, Sr., who had been, unquestionably, one of Utah’s leading lights for many years. He will be dearly missed.

Going Local: Larry H. Miller

From automobiles to movie theatres, LHM group does it all! Photo credit: tourofutah.com
From automobiles to movie theatres, LHM group does it all! Photo credit: tourofutah.com

Legacies and giving back to the community are very important in Utah, and VIP Limousine’s hometown of Salt Lake City is a starting point for much of that generosity. For this entry, Going Local is taking a closer look at a late local legend, the entrepreneur Larry H. Miller.

Lawrence “Larry” Horne West was born in Salt Lake City and graduated from West High School. After racing and working odd jobs he purchased a Toyota dealership in Murray. From there, his business grew as he acquired other locations and grew a network of multiple dealerships. Now based out of the Salt Lake suburb of Sandy, the Larry H. Miller dealership network is now one of the largest in the United States, with locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Utah, and Washington state. These include the used car supermarkets and the new-car dealerships specializing in a wide variety of brands.

Miller was also involved in a multitude of other activities. His Megaplex brand of theatres is one of the largest in the region, and he also became the owner of the Utah Jazz. He was also the owner of KJZZ TV and backed other ventures, including the Salt Lake Bees, the Vivint Smart Home Arena (formerly the Delta Center), Miller Motorsports Park, and the Tour of Utah.

Miller was also known as a local philanthropist. He donated to improve training facilities for law enforcement, had a close relationship with Salt Lake Community College programs, and created Larry H. Miller Charities. To this day, his family, led by his wife Gail, continues to donate and give back to the community, including to local hospitals.

The name Larry H. Miller is a Utah household name for all of the reasons above. Even VIP Limousine has done business dealings with the company in regards to our fleet, as have other local transportation companies. Larry definitely left Utah a little better than he found it, and we are all the better for it.

The 2018 Sundance Film Festival

Main Street of Park City begins to glitter with the arrival of the Sundance Film Festival.
Main Street of Park City begins to glitter with the arrival of the Sundance Film Festival.

Every January, regardless of the snowfall and happenings in the media, Park City becomes a crowded, glittering, teeming mass of the entertainment industry. Robert Redford, the king of independent film, started a little festival some years ago which has now grown into a major part of Utah’s annual calendar. This is the Sundance Film Festival, and it’s a big deal.

It’s now so big that Park City itself is not able to accommodate it all on its own. Sundance now has scheduled shows in Salt Lake City and at the Sundance Mountain Resort. Films run from the 18th through the 28th and feature everything from children’s submissions to those with A-list names. This year, film cast members and directors include (deep breath): Ethan Hawke, Garrett Hedlund, Forest Whitaker, Usher, Peter Dinklage, Elle Fanning, Kristen Stewart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Chloe Grace Moretz, Laura Dern, Carey Mulligan, Michael Cera, Idris Elba, Joel McHale, Jake Gyllenhaal, Claire Daines, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Parsons, Octavia Spencer, Jon Hamm, Rosamund Pike, Keira Knightley, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Robert Pattinson, Daisy Ridley, Tom Felton, Paul Rudd, Mark Strong, Sienna Miller, Colin Firth, and many more.

There are other presentations, too, including sit-down discussions and musical performances. The schedule is packed! Come on up with us and mingle with the stars.

2017: A Year in Review from VIP Limousine

We love celebrating! Limos have been out and about with drinks of choice all year. Photo credit: Philip Keeve
We love celebrating! Limos have been out and about with drinks of choice all year. Photo credit: Philip Keeve

To say that 2017 was a tumultuous year for VIP Limousine and the transportation industry in Utah would be an understatement. A Salt Lake City-based competitor went out of business, there have been highs and lows within the company itself, and we’ve even begun the current ski season in a horrible fashion with some of the lowest snow totals on record.

However, it’s time to take it all in and reflect back.

The year began with moving into a new warehouse location to better fit our needs. It also enables us to be the closest limousine and black car service to the Salt Lake City International Airport in the entire state of Utah.

Shortly after that, the management team changed. Old forces moved out, newer forces were promoted, and Yours Truly (Philip Keeve) was brought on. This was a move that helped transform the team. Sue Diaz stepped into the role of the manager, with Philip sitting as her #2 and wearing a variety of hats.

Making changes to our SUV offering is just one of the upgrades completed at VIP Limousine this past year.
Making changes to our SUV offering is just one of the upgrades completed at VIP Limousine this past year.

With these changes, VIP Limousine began operating smoothly and consistently. We began a marketing push to get the word out about our business and bring on new clients, opening up the business to new opportunities, perspectives, and needs, including the Miss America Pageant and the Miss Utah division. We recruited a crop of new, trustworthy chauffeurs who have proven to be a responsible and fantastic team. The company rebranded to reflect new efforts and the level of service we provide. We also upgraded some vehicles in our fleet, in an effort to live up to our mission as a luxury transportation company.

Meanwhile, the airport make some major changes which reflect the upcoming new facility. Not all of them are convenient, but we made adjustments on our end to make sure that our clients could and can still be served with ease and convenience.

We needed a sedan offering in our fleet, so after experimenting, we picked up a 2018 Cadillac XTS sedan.
We needed a sedan offering in our fleet, so after experimenting, we picked up a 2018 Cadillac XTS sedan.

Then the unthinkable happened: All Resort Express, All Resort Limousine, Park City Transportation, Xpress4Less, Premier Transportation, and Lewis Stages closed their doors. This conglomerate was the biggest transportation company in the state of Utah, which controlled 50% of the entire market. All Resort Group was not only a force to be reckoned with, we respected their ability to provide a good service with a large capacity.

It did mean, however, that we were also able to expand our team with more great recruits which have become a valued part of the company. Coupled with this, we garnered more new clients, which have decided to stay with our services recognizing certain differences before and after.

One particular event from the fall stood out, when we contributed to a charity event put on by Josh Rossi Photography for his Justice League Kids. It was a moving occasion and we were grateful to be a part of it.

Then ski season arrived with a messy whimper. It has hurt everybody, including the resorts, local businesses, and transportation companies. But no matter. Regardless of the season and the conditions, people need to be moved all across Utah, whether it be Park City, Utah County, the north, the south, and across the state borders.

We look forward to bringing our newly improved services into 2018 with more excitement to come. In the meantime, we wish to extend a thank you to our clients and chauffeurs who make what we do possible. That’s the spirit of being Driven. Better.

VIP Limousine presents: Meals on Wheels and Merry Christmas!

At VIP Limousine, we genuinely love our hometown of Salt Lake City, what with beautiful vistas and great opportunity. However, to love a place also means to love the portions of it that may not be as eye-catching or appealing. We know that SLC isn’t perfect, but we wanted to see if there was a way to make it somewhat better.

In the state where volunteerism ranks the highest in the nation, we ourselves have donated limousine service to certain organizations in need. These include nonprofits such as the Make-a-Wish Foundation of Utah and the Miss Utah Pageant, the state division of the Miss America organization. They are wonderful and do many great things around the state and the nation, and we gladly have provided our services to them. However, we wanted to think bigger and jump into the fray ourselves.

So we got in touch with Salt Lake County, our local government agency that goes beyond the control of Salt Lake City itself. Salt Lake County is the local administrative body for the metropolitan branch of Meals on Wheels.

For those who are unfamiliar, Meals on Wheels America is a nonprofit organization which, through the efforts of thousands of volunteers, delivers meals to the elderly all across the United States. Those who participate take an hour out of their day to deliver hot meals to a set number of individuals.

VIP Limousine may be a name which people may think is exclusive solely to the fanciest hotels and the most prime real estate developments. However, this couldn’t be more wrong. We serve all types of clientele, and we do so quite gladly.

As a result, our company makes deliveries in the neighborhood of Rose Park in the northwestern corner of Salt Lake City. It is one of the poorer areas in the county, a far cry from the beautiful Avenues, Sugar House, downtown, and the up-and-coming areas such as Liberty Wells.

We believe, however, that whatever neighborhood someone lives in, that they deserve love and respect worthy of a VIP, whether you’re a pedestrian, potential client, client, neighbor, friend, relative, or anything else. Hence, we want to apply the same treatment we give our clients to those who are less fortunate than us.

Our route begins near 700 North and Interstate 215, not too far from the Salt Lake City International Airport and the Davis County border. It winds through the northwest part of Rose Park between a series of homes and streets, ending up near the southeast corner of the airport. The recipients of Meals on Wheels are always excited to see us walking up to their doorway with a hot meal, cold drink, and a smile. We service stand-alone homes, apartment complexes, and specialty living facilities. We bring meals directly to recipients and make sure there’s nothing else they need, whether it be a refreshed oxygen tank, a gentle pat on the back, or a quick laugh.

This new experience for us has been so gratifying that while we are announcing it now, we have decided to make it a permanent fixture in the company with multiple chauffeurs taking turns making the deliveries. Our company is the business of making people’s days with something special, usually a limousine. But we know that we can go beyond that. Community volunteer work is important not only for those we serve, but also, admittedly, for ourselves to get out from behind the desks and steering wheels and the world of prom and corporate clients. It also helps our local agencies and organizations to serve more people more effectively, more efficiently, and with more joy.

If you have a service project for which you think our services would be appropriate, please feel free to contact us!

VIP Limousine Christmas Party 2017

Sometimes our team takes a little time to get treated. Photo credit: Jeff Arvizu
Sometimes our team takes a little time to get treated. Photo credit: Jeff Arvizu

At VIP Limousine, we function as an around-the-clock operation, doing whatever is needed at all hours to make sure our clients are driven better. However, sometimes in order to sustain these levels of intensity, our team needs a break, so each year we plan out a Christmastime party for all our chauffeurs.

This year, we invited the chauffeurs and their spouses to join together for a dinner in downtown Salt Lake City; specifically, we chose Tucanos, a Brazilian steakhouse with a location at The Gateway, one of the main shopping centers.

Normally, our chauffeurs strictly drive people from the front seat in our vehicles, but this time they were the passengers, as our media specialist and assistant manager, Philip Keeve, pulled up in the company’s black Hummer stretch limousine and helped them inside. With Christmas music playing along with various snapping noises from camera apps, the party hit the road for the quick trip to downtown SLC.

Our black Hummer H2 stretch limousine patiently awaits passengers. Photo credit: Tim Morris
Our black Hummer H2 stretch limousine patiently awaits passengers. Photo credit: Tim Morris

The day after our company party was Lady Gaga’s concert at the Vivint Smart Home Arena, so the streets near The Gateway and the Arena itself were clogged and closed with her entourage. Situations like this, though, fail to faze our chauffeurs, and Philip deftly avoided the issue. Before long, the limo was at Tucanos and Philip unloaded the passengers.

Tucanos is a lively, bustling place, with a lot of celebrations and a party-like atmosphere reflective of Brazilian traditions. We were fortunate to have a table reserved for our group which managed to seat everybody, and then the magic began.

Waiters began circling the table with the exquisite cuts of meat, delicious seafood, and beautiful grilled pineapple. As Philip returned from parking the Hummer in a safe lot and braved the cold walking back, everybody else jumped into action around Tucanos’ large salad bar, outfitted with rolls, fruit, a variety of salads, and all of the trimmings. Most of us filled up quickly, so we started to turn over the signal blocks for meat service so that we wouldn’t be too stuffed.

Around this time, one of our chauffeurs, Tim Morris, rose to give a quick toast. His booming, slow voice carried across the tables in recognition of what we do. We’re grateful to have him on our team.

Not that Tucanos was going to let a toast stop us from eating. Our waiter, Mike, then came around with a presentation tray of tantalizing desserts, and our stomachs instantly made room for more food. Creme brulee, triple-layer chocolate cake, cheesecake, cream, and a slew of other delectable items flew out of the kitchen towards our table, and we continued to dig in.

Upon completion, Philip returned to get the limo from its safe parking zone to bring everyone back home, only to find that someone had broken in a window and stolen the stereo out of the back (a lesson learned the hard way). However, because VIP Limousine is the largest limousine company in the state of Utah, he was able to quickly return to the warehouse and swap vehicles for the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter party bus limo. Upon his return, the night resumed as normal.

The following day, we contacted companies to install a brand-new stereo and new window, and the black Hummer was back in service without a hitch.

A broken window couldn’t dampen the joy and gratitude we have for our team and our clients over this past year. Growing pains, moving changes, industry shakeups, and all, we’re glad to serve our passengers from start to finish and make them feel like VIPs at every turn.

Going Local: Tucanos

At the top of The Gateway mall complex, the Salt Lake City location of Tucanos looks out across the valley skyline. Photo credit: tripadvisor.com
At the top of The Gateway mall complex, the Salt Lake City location of Tucanos looks out across the valley skyline. Photo credit: tripadvisor.com

In 2000, the seemingly sleepy college town of Provo became home to a unique restaurant experience in The Shop at Riverwoods with the opening of Tucanos Brazilian Grill, better known as Tucanos for short. Since then, the business has expanded to multiple locations across the Wasatch Front and around the country, including a brand new restaurant in Orem. It’s a place that owes a great deal to Utah’s ties to Brazil.

The newest location at the University Mall in Orem, Utah. Photo credit: randoco.com
The newest location at the University Mall in Orem, Utah. Photo credit: randoco.com

The Pampas region of Brazil is where much of the culinary inspiration of Tucanos comes from, in addition to the coastal regions and continental Europe. The blend of flavors in their food translates as distinctively unique and yet authentic, as does the party-like atmosphere inside, with the flamboyant, brash decor.

Tucanos’ service is a unique experience, too, as the waiters come around with freshly-cooked Brazilian meats, seafood, and grilled pineapple. It’s tough to say no to so many good flavor combinations! Pair this with the salad bar and the premium desserts, and diners are set for a fun night out.

We at VIP Limousine definitely recommend giving this place a try. Great food, friendly service, fair pricing.

Winter is here!

Take a guess as to where this picture was taken...
Take a guess as to where this picture was taken…

Every year, the team at VIP Limousine eagerly awaits the change of seasons. We might be biased, but we love wintertime in Utah, with the mountains above Salt Lake City getting draped in a blanket of that famous powder. People come from all over the world to experience skiing and boarding in the Wasatch.

Locals and visitors alike come to Alta, Beaver Mountain, Brighton, Cherry Peak, Deer Valley, Nordic Valley, Park City, Powder Mountain, Snowbasin, Snowbird, Solitude, and Sundance, or even the further distant locations of Brian Head and Eagle Point for their snow fix, and they deliver in abundance. Literally tens of thousands of acres between them serve over 4 million people every year, and for good reason. Our resort series about some of our favorites can also be found on this blog.

But what about outside of careening out of (or in) control down the majestic slopes of these magnificent resorts? Rest assured, there is plenty to do in Utah in the wintertime.

St. George, for example, doesn’t see nearly as much snow as the rest of the state, since it sits just north of the Arizona border. So there’s still hiking and natural sightseeing for the snowbirds who don’t go to Snowbird. And what if you’re not that far south, or prefer not to see red rock (for some inexplicable reason)?

All of the museum and historical sites in or near urban areas remain open year-round, since snow cannot cover up culture. Lights at the stunning Temple Square and other areas across the Wasatch Front are ready for viewing. There are skating rinks in Park City, The Gallivan Center, and the Salt Lake County Ice Center. The tubing hills of Gorgoza Park, Wasatch Parc, and Soldier Hollow, which also is home to nordic skiing and hosted some events from the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.

Speaking of the Olympics, the Utah Olympic Park in Summit County is also open year-round to visitors wishing to experience some of the history and happenings up close and personal from the Games that almost never happened. They also host Olympic trials, including this year around New Years. The Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns also has public events occurring throughout the season, where visitors have the chance to skate on an oval where many a speedskating record was broken.

Are you hankering for some live performing arts? Utah has no shortage of wintertime- and Christmas-themed masterpieces open to the public. Ballet West is performing their traditional and beautiful Nutcracker in downtown SLC. The Utah Symphony is performing a series of holiday concerts. Utah Opera also has some unique performances up and coming throughout the season. Let’s not forget, too, all of the concerts and shows being held at Vivint Smart Home Arena, the new Eccles Theatre, and the stunning new Hale Centre Theatre in Sandy. Finally, we cannot leave out Utah’s own world-famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing throughout the season as well as year-round.

Speaking of the Vivint Arena, the Utah Jazz are playing continually throughout the winter in downtown Salt Lake. There are also the college basketball games being held at Brigham Young University, the University of Utah, Weber State University, Southern Utah University, and Dixie State University.

If you really want to get off the beaten path in Utah this winter, there’s a wealth of opportunity out and about. The untouched areas of the mountains are home to great backcountry skiing and snowshoeing. If you’re in the mood for exactly the opposite, there are a variety of lodges and coffee shops where one can curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and just watch the snow fall.

Once upon a time, certain members of a visiting basketball team complained that there was nothing to do in Salt Lake City. Respectfully, we beg to differ. And where does VIP Limousine go?

We go to all of them, and have even gone out of state to world-class destinations such as Jackson Hole. So we invite you to join us in enjoying winter in Utah and the Intermountain West, and hope you love it as much as we do.

Salt Lake City's Premiere Limousine Service