Editor, Paul Gibson report from Atlantic City, USA.
World record holder and star of his own life story movie, “Limo Bob” tells The Chauffeur Magazine about his extraordinary life story and how he became the most successful limousine trader in America…
Only a couple of hours before I was introduced to Limo Bob in the lift (or elevator as they prefer) I was faced with an a extremely friendly, enthusiastic and uplifting man who I just knew had a few tales to tell.
Limo Bob was standing at my hotel room door eager to tell me his story… it was worth staying up for… this is Limo Bob’s story!
On June 16th, 1958, Robert J. Strauser (“Limo Bob”) was born into this world of good times and hard times. He made – and lost – two fortunes. He rose up from the ashes of defeat and built Star Limo, Inc., his third successful Limo business (and his third fortune) that he enjoys today.
Limo Bob grew up in a North Western suburb of Chicago. Early on, he discovered he had a knack for making money. When he was eight years old, Limo Bob began cutting the lawns of friends and neighbours.
When Limo Bob was 13, he went to Malibu, California, to visit relatives, who took him to all the tourist areas, where he met several movie stars. Hollywood made a lasting impression on Limo Bob and he never forgot the glitz, the glitter, and the things money can buy. Now, more than ever, he was influenced to make money, and lots of it.
One evening when Limo Bob was 15, his father went to dinner with his trucking partner and bumped into a lady who happened to be selling a green Limo. He bought the car and soon after it arrived in the driveway, neighbours, friends, and even strangers, began asking if they could rent it. Hickory Hills Limousine was born.
When a chauffeur failed to show up for work one day, his father woke up Limo Bob, who was then driving on a learner’s permit, and sent him to the airport to pick up a customer. When the high school prom rolled around, Limo Bob was all set to go with his date, but once again a driver failed to show up. “You’re not going to the prom,” his father told him, “you’re driving the prom.” That was okay with Limo Bob. He was the only kid in school who earned several hundred dollars a week.
By the age of 19, Limo Bob worked hard to build a successful limousine hire firm in Florida, but when his parents divorced he returned to California to carry on running Hickory Hills Limousines with a colleague from his firm in Florida. Soon after there was a break-up in relations and times got nasty. Eventually, Limo Bob and his future wife Maureen had to leave to city after several death threats and continuous sabotage to his fleet of limousines.
Limo Bob had been through hell and he was barely 21. He had left Chicago because of the Mafia, started over with nothing in Florida, and then had to protect his family from a maniac on the warpath in California. Life was not fun in those early years, but the School of Hard Knocks made Limo Bob what he is today: successful.
Over time, Limo Bob and his father Larry built a successful Cab and Limo company in Florida. In 1982, Larry decided to sell out and retire. Limo Bob and Maureen then decided to enjoy the Gulf of Mexico before returning to Chicago to build another business with a 1974 Lincoln and $30 in cash. They both worked hard in various low paid jobs to build capital to work on the Lincoln to get it in a good condition. He had a dream and he intended to make it come true.
Three repainted Limos do not build a business, however. Limo Bob had no money but starting at the bottom left him no place to go back down. In order to encourage business, his company slogan was, “Guaranteed to be on time or the trip is free.” His limos got him on television when two boys sued him for being late. The free publicity created more business.
In 1984, when Limo Bob and Maureen got married, they had a fleet of five Limos. The following year they took a Sunday drive in Hickory Hills in one of the limos and passed a nursing home. An elderly man with no legs sitting out in the sun waived to them as they drove by. Maureen said, “You should give him a ride in the limo.”
Limo Bob took it one step further. “Why don’t we give him and a few of his friends a ride downtown and serve them all champagne?” Limo Bob called the director and offered the free limo ride. The director was delighted and said yes.
On the following Sunday, Limo Bob and Maureen rounded up the man with no legs and 11 of his nursing home friends, packed them and the required nurses aids into three of the limos, and took them on a chauffeured grand tour of Chicago. At one point, a news truck pulled up and a reporter asked what was going on with the limo procession. “We’re driving some nursing home folks around to lighten up their day,”
Limo Bob said. The reporter asked a nursing home resident what was going on. “Oh,” said the man with no legs, “this nice man is taking us for a ride.”
When they returned to the nursing home after the day’s grand tour, the other residents begged to go for a ride. Limo Bob promised that every year he would double the number of nursing home passengers if, God willing, he could double his fleet. He promised to give free rides until every nursing home resident – 76 in all had ridden in his Limos.
That night Limo Bob made the 10 o’clock news. The reporter who had interviewed his nursing home passengers called his story, “The man who watches the world go by, gets a ride – limo style. After that, Limo Bob received hundreds of calls telling him what a nice thing he had done for the nursing home residents. All the money in the world couldn’t have made Limo Bob feel as good as he did right then. Soon thereafter,
Limo companies from around the world started emptying out homes the world over.
From that single good deed, Limo Bob’s business flourished. Every year he went to the nursing home and gave residents a free Limo ride, and every year his fleet doubled. Three years later, he made good on his promise to the nursing home: all 76 residents had been in his limos. From that television news story, people called and booked his limos. Limo Bob was on his way to ‘making it’. No one could have ever believed what was about to happen to his life from this point on.
In 1985, Limo Bob bought a 1985 executive stretch limo. In 1986, he bought the longest Limo in Illinois. By 1987, Limo Bob was the owner of the world’s longest and most exotic limousines and fine exotic cars anywhere. He was on television news around the world and in newspapers and magazines. Limo Bob was on top of the Limo world with 40-footers furnished with Jacuzzis, beds, hot tubs, and rumble seats.
His fleet consisted of Ferraris, Excalibur’s, Rolls-Royces, and Mercedes, to name a few. People in tuxedos served cocktails and hors d’oeurves inside. Limo Bob was King of the Road.
Then, in 1991, Limo Bob was approached by a man who wanted to buy half of Limo Bob’s empire. With his lawyer present, Limo Bob signed eight blank documents. Limo Bob and the extremely well-known actress were now partners in Extraordinary Limo Services. They gave him less than 10 percent down, but he was told he would receive a stock purchase agreement in 30 days, along with the rest of the money.
When Limo Bob received the Stock Purchase Agreement, it stated that his new business partner held 51 percent of the stock and Limo Bob held 49 percent. Limo Bob’s own lawyer had sold him out for an extra one percent. Even worse, no more money would be forthcoming. As the minority shareholder, Limo Bob was ousted from the company. They removed almost half a million dollars from his bank account and took over a million dollars worth of the World’s Longest & Most Exotic Limousines away and fraudulently sold them all off within three months, and then left town.
The Limos weren’t entirely paid for and still in Limo Bob’s name. His excellent credit rating was scrapped. His reputation as a successful and honest businessman he had worked so hard to achieve was totally destroyed, he was devastated and broke. Limo
Bob and Maureen lost their house, furnishings and cars. He had to sell the 22 pounds of gold he wore around his neck which were gifts from the rich and famous who used his limousine service that had become his trademark. Could Limo Bob start with nothing a third time and end up on top of the world? Maureen put things into proper perspective when she said, “Your best revenge is your success.”
For a while Limo Bob and Maureen sold Barney, the purple dinosaur, on street corners in order to feed the kids. Eventually they made enough money to buy some karaoke equipment so Limo Bob could emcee the nightclub circuit. The only drawback to starting another Limo service was the Non-competition Agreement he’d received from his previous contract, prohibiting him from entering the limo business for a period of five years. To make matters worse, Limo Bob couldn’t even be around a Limo or he’d end up in court, possibly threatened with jail time. Limo Bob became so paranoid he couldn’t even look at a Limo for fear of going to jail.
Limo Bob learned a harsh lesson from his past business partnership: Money and power rule! For years he had toiled over his case against his colleague – putting in 16-hour days and giving it all he had – only to lose, as he discovered that time waits for no one. Not only do money and power rule, money equals power.
Limo Bob appeared on numerous television talk shows to tell his story. Twenty million viewers gave him the will to move on and to forget the past. From that point on, Limo Bob would only look forward and vowed that if life ever again puts negative obstacles in his path, he will jump over them and turn the negative obstacles into positive situations. But he trusts nobody on first sight. He’s learned to let time, his former enemy, build trust and loyalty in others.
What got Limo Bob through all the ups and downs was having someone to share them with – his wife, Maureen, and his best friend, his sister, Sam. “If you have that dear someone,” Limo Bob says, “like I have in my beautiful, loving, and supportive wife and my sister, then you will prevail through anything. Sam has always been there for me and we are always in each other’s hearts and thoughts no matter how far apart we were physically. Then my wife came along and I had two best friends. I am, indeed, the richest man in the world because nothing compares to the power of love. I thank God every day for blessing me with such love and support.
“Keep the faith. Don’t ever give up! Go for what you believe in and give it all you’ve got and you will succeed in anything you can possibly dream of. Your dreams can come true! I’m happier now, and more knowledgeable than I have ever been – thanks to the wonderful support of my wife of twenty-four years and the undisputed love of my beautiful daughter, Jennifer, and my superstar son, LBJ (Limo Bob, Jr.).
High upon the Chicago Skyline, sits limo bob on the top floor over looking Lake Michigan and the Sears tower off the horizon in Downtown Chicago, Only in America! Can you make it, or break it, over & over and over! Perseverance, hard work, kindness to others, and of course loving what you do for a living, and most importantly, I thank God every day of my life for allowing me to be one of the happiest men in all the universe!
I tell my wife Maureen, all the time: If I were to ever pass away at an early age, not to shed to many tears for I never met a person in the world that lived a better life than I, and continue doing so. That is why when people meet me, wearing all the gold, diamonds & fur coats, and smiling away at all I meet and great around the globe, they ask me? Why are you always smiling? I state, when you love what you do, you have the greatest & most beautiful wife ever! And God blesses me with my beautiful daughter Jennifer and my handsome son Bobby I literally worship the ground they walk on & Enjoy waking up each and every morning for this life I have I am Blessed!