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Driven to succeed in the SCV

Limo company focuses on quality service

Posted: July 1, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Updated: July 1, 2010 4:55 a.m.

The Bali men inside the company’s 35-passenger party bus, which features long, cushioned seating, flashing lights and a booming stereo system. Natives of India, Kuldip started the company and Vin is the vice president.

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Three years ago, Vin Bali was working as a recruiter, helping people find jobs in accounting and finance. Having grown tired of the corporate life, he finally decided to leave recruiting behind and take what he thought might be a two-month stint with his family's limo company.

Three years later, Bali is going strong as vice president of Valencia-based Lightning Limos and shows no signs of hitting brakes.

"When you love what you do, it never feels like work," the 27-year-old Saugus resident said. "I was made for this."

Started by his father, Kuldip Bali, Lightning Limos hit the road with a van, a limousine, a Chevrolet Tahoe, a Mercedes-Benz and a town car.

"I wouldn't be where I'm at without help from the family," the younger Bali said.

Today, the company has a fleet of 11 vehicles, including a blacked-out Ford Expedition stretch limo - in which he drove the director of "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse" to last week's premiere - and two party buses that can carry 35 and 50 passengers, respectively.

"This is the new craze. It's like a club on wheels," Bali said while standing inside Lightning's 35-passenger party bus.

Outside, it looks like any other white shuttle bus. Inside, behind its tinted windows are long cushioned seats, pounding speakers a TV screen and flashing lights.

Bali said the buses are hired out for everything from proms to corporate events.

Customized by Orange-based Limos by Moonlight, each bus was an investment of between $180,000 and $200,000.

Bali has a staff of 12 drivers - which includes cops, doctors and law students - and said he still puts in plenty of time behind the wheel. He likes it, he said, and it keeps him connected to clients and what the job entails.

In May, Bali said, he spent about 90 percent of his time behind the wheel. With a laptop in the passenger seat, he uses down time to work on marketing.

It's easy to get into the limo business, Bali said, but it's a business fraught with cutthroat competition.

His goal is to provide the best service, have fun with his customers and not badmouth his competitors.

Bali has also focused on giving back to the community, and said he has donated numerous limo rides to local charities and nonprofit organizations.

Lightning Limos has seen strong business both in the Santa Clarita Valley and the Los Angeles area, Bali said - a change from the first year when he said the company lost $100,000.

"I never thought it would be this big this soon," he said.

Bali's family is originally from India, having moved here in 1991. His family struggled for years, he said, and that drove him to succeed.

"My parents made sacrifices, and that's what motivates me," he said. "The opportunity to capitalize on the American dream."

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