Scott Taylor has enjoyed the view from the driver’s seat for almost 13 years. He’s currently a driver with Pure Luxury Transportation in Petaluma, California. Pure Luxury is his first job in the luxury transportation industry, and he says he can’t imagine working for anyone else.
Bus & Motorcoach News caught up with Taylor to talk to him about why he loves driving a motorcoach, his career highs and lows, and his passion for the business.
What’s the biggest tip you received and the story behind it?
I drove a group of folks on a motorcoach tour of the Wine Country, tasting fantastic wines at local wineries and sampling artisan cheeses at some of the best dairy farms in Sonoma County. Pure Luxury provides all of its chauffeurs with comprehensive safety training. Since we live and work in the beautiful and rustic Sonoma County, we are used to taking large vehicles onto challenging properties, so this was just another day for me. But these folks were so impressed with my maneuvering of the vehicle that, toward the end of the trip, a gentleman walked the length of the coach with a paper bag, collecting tips from the passengers. I thanked him as he handed the bag to me and reminded him that our fee included the gratuity. He said, “We know. This is just a little something extra for that fancy driving.” When I got to the fueling station, I checked the bag and discovered $600 cash. The average chauffeur can receive very nice tips on any given day. But there are days like this one that stand out from the rest.
What’s the strangest or most bizarre group you’ve driven?
Honestly, in all of my years in the industry, I have not seen anything that could be considered “bizarre.” I have seen and heard some “interesting” things. But as any self-respecting chauffeur would say, “What happens in the limo stays in the limo.”
What’s your go-to phrase?
I don’t have a go-to phrase, per se, but there is something that I’ve said several times over the years. When a client tells me they are really impressed with our equipment and service, and asks, “What’s your secret?” I reply, “Pure Luxury isn’t just the company name, it’s our philosophy.”
How did you become a driver?
I was laid off in 2007 when the recession hit the industry I was working in at the time. I saw an ad for chauffeurs from Pure Luxury. I thought it could be a fun gig until I found something else. That was almost 13 years ago. I quickly got my commercial driver’s license so I could drive buses and never looked back.
What are your previous careers?
I spent about 12 years working in the shop of a Ford dealership until I was offered a position working for one of their car care product suppliers. I spent the next eight years as a Technical Adviser for CalTex Protective Coatings. My territory was the West Coast. My daily work was in Northern California. Every quarter, I traveled to Oregon, Washington, and Southern California. I also traveled to that company’s home base in Texas four times a year. So, I really learned to enjoy traveling.
How many miles or states have you driven a bus?
We generally work within California and occasionally take clients into Nevada or other surrounding states. However, I was one of four drivers that flew to New York to pick up our first two Prevost motorcoaches. We drove them back through 12 states to our base in Petaluma. It was mid-February and a snowstorm was chasing us most of the way. Snow was covering the northern states, so we ended up taking the long way along Route 66. Good times.
What’s your favorite destination and why?
That is a tough question to answer when you live and work in Northern California. Despite the recent wildfires, many of us who have lived here all of our lives could not think of living anywhere else. People from all over the world travel to the San Francisco Bay Area and Wine Country because it is such a beautiful place with so much to offer. That being said, I really enjoy taking clients to Healdsburg and the Dry Creek Valley AVA (American Viticultural Area). Healdsburg has transformed itself from a little farm town to a worldwide destination featuring high-end restaurants and resorts. I started working in that little town 32 years ago at the Ford dealership I previously mentioned. I really enjoy visiting and seeing how much it has flourished. Dry Creek Valley stems off to the west of Healdsburg, it is a 16-mile-long and 2-mile-wide valley that offers some of the world’s best wines and beautiful vistas.
From your experience in the driver’s seat, what’s your favorite bus feature?
We have great equipment to offer our clients, but as funny as it sounds, I think my favorite feature in any of our buses is the kneeling feature on our larger buses. It allows drivers to lower the vehicle to make entering and exiting easier. We provide transportation for many destination weddings, wine tours and fine dining in San Francisco and in Napa and Sonoma Wine Country. Many of the guests are elderly, or may have just had a bit too much wine. So anything we can do to make it easier for them to get in and out of the vehicle safely makes my job that much easier.
What’s the best compliment you’ve received?
I’ll never forget the day I was approached by one of my passengers, who explained to me that she had recently been in a horrible car accident. She was terrified of being in any vehicle when she was not behind the wheel. She explained that she felt safe in my vehicle, which allowed her to really enjoy the day. She thought she was going to be miserable for the entire trip, but shortly after we set off, she began to relax. I like to think it was my driving that relaxed her and not the wine she enjoyed that day.
What’s your funniest travel story?
I picked up a larger group for a wedding rehearsal dinner. It was going to be roughly a one-hour drive, and the bride didn’t want anyone to get bored. She gave me a CD and asked me to play it over the cabin speakers. It turned out to be a Disney karaoke disc. She proceeded to flawlessly sing along to the music. After my initial surprise passed, I thought to myself, “She sounds just like Ariel from ‘The Little Mermaid’!” I heard many of the other passengers start to sing along, many just as flawlessly as her, some not so much. It might actually not be the funniest moment that’s happened on my vehicle, but it stands out because of how much fun they were having. By the time we got to our destination, she even had her grumpy uncle singing along.
Based on your experience in the driver’s seat, what’s your best piece of advice for a newbie?
Don’t be your own worst enemy — prepare for your trip. We provide transportation for many different types of people: politicians, athletes, celebrities, and Grandma and Grandpa flying to see the kids and grandkids for the holidays. The thing to remember is that they are all just people, just living different lives. When I first started, I would get myself all worked up and nervous at times, especially when I drove my childhood celebrity crush. But when I saw them living normal lives, dealing with normal family problems, or calling the exterminator because they had termites, I slowly realized they are no different than me. Also, don’t ever leave your house without having done your homework — EVER! It’s so easy to just rely on GPS nowadays, but it can fail you. Believe me, you do not want a super VIP in the backseat when you get lost. I’ve been accused of taking money from Google because I praise Google Maps so much. But it is your best friend. So use it, and realize that it is one of the best tools you could have. Make sure you’ve seen the driveway at the home, or what the front of the restaurant looks like, so you know exactly where you’re going.
From your experience in the driver’s seat, what’s your favorite bus to drive and why?
Hands down, the Prevost motorcoach; it’s like riding on a cloud. Don’t get me wrong, most of our equipment comes from Grech, and it is top-notch. My second favorite is the 40-foot, 37-passenger Freightliner from Grech because it’s so versatile. It’s a full 7 feet longer than the next size down, can fit 10 more passengers and still get into most of the same locations as the smaller vehicle. That being said, the Prevost is like an ocean liner gliding through the waves, and no one will get seasick because they will not feel the waves.
What’s your career highlight from your years in the driver’s seat?
There are so many moments to choose from, it’s difficult to pick just one. I have driven some of the most recognizable people on the planet. I’ve been part of royal weddings, a police motorcade with VIPs to the Super Bowl, and driven Make-A-Wish kids to the airport on their way to make their dreams come true. The list goes on and on. I really could not pick just one moment. If we are talking just career highlights, that would be working my way into the position of Chauffeur Manager for Pure Luxury. I have the opportunity to find new talent to train and prepare someone else for a career unlike any other.
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