Meet Golden Chauffeur Eddie Byrd
Eddie Byrd is Golden’s longest tenure employee – 22 years, and counting. We think you’ll agree that his loyalty to his position and the company, and his spirituality are inspiring.
Eddie, how did you find Golden?
I graduated from Ypsilanti schools and was fortunate to get a sports scholarship to attend Hillsdale College, where I graduated from with an economics and business degree. When I returned to the area I worked for Ypsilanti Savings for a few years and then went to work for a warehouse company in Carlton that was subcontracted through Kmart. I was a manager of about 30 staff members. Then I worked for St. Joe’s for about 6 years selling a managed healthcare plan and traveled extensively throughout all of Michigan. Then one day I was talking to one of my college friends that I played basketball with and he told me that Golden was hiring.
What do you remember about the early days at Golden?
Well when I began, there was only a few employees, Sean, Donna, Janice, Michael, and a few drivers. Everyone worked 10 hours a day, 6-7 days a week. And to tell the truth not much has changed, for me anyway.
When I first started I didn’t know who the owner of the company was as I was in and out and dealt mostly with dispatch. Although when I was in the office I would notice all the staff would get up and leave the office for about an hour and I couldn’t figure out why. Shortly thereafter I realized EVERYONE in the company was a chauffeur, even Sean.
Did that impress you that even the owner was a chauffeur?
When I discovered that the owner of this new company that I was working for was working beside us I said to myself, “Now this is a man that I can follow”, as I immediately thought of the bible verse, “Brothers and sisters, we ask you to respect those who are working with you, leading you, and instructing you.” Thessalonians 5:12. And to this day if he is needed, Sean will drive, which is one of the reasons that I am still with the company and following Sean’s lead. As I always have.
What vehicles were you driving back then?
We were strictly utilizing Lincoln sedans that were a bit larger than they are today, but that all changed when the Super Bowl came to Detroit, as then we added buses to our fleet.
What do you love about your chauffeur position at Golden?
I love to drive, meet new people, be of service, dress up professionally, have the feeling of being an independent person, using my logistical knowledge, the order of it all. Every morning I pray, “Lord let me be a blessing to whom I serve.” – it guides my day, everyday.
I know that you have many “regular clients” that request you as their chauffeur, why do you think that is?
Client’s love when you are “in tune” with them and can meet their expectations without their explanations. Also, while you can plan ahead, things change, life happens, therefore, I must think on my feet, and also I diligently do confirmations so we are all on the same page when things do get altered. Also, I know the territory so when I do an airport pickup at 7am and the client from NY wants a coffee and quick breakfast before a meeting, I know just the place and they trust it will be just what they were envisioning. Our job is to serve, not just drive the car.
I would think after all these years you have many stories that you can share?
Of course, I have driven for nation leaders, music icons, movie stars, Fortune 500 leaders, but confidentiality is part of our trademark so that our clients never have to worry about their personal business and safety being compromised. The time we are serving is about their comfort and our focus is on them, not on us.
Possible to share an experience without providing too many details?
Well there was one time that I had to get a troupe of actors from a very popular movie that was about vampires to various public relations events to promote the movie and it was a very challenging but rewarding day.
As the day progressed, fans showed up outside of these events and the actors were getting more and more nervous about their safety as there were so many fans. Then once they found us they proceed to follow us from one marketing event to another. Well those fans didn’t know they were following a Golden chauffeur that had a few tricks up his sleeve – Michigan turn-arounds are great for losing folks that are trailing you, and knowing the side streets.
We were heading to the last stop of the day and I knew we had to take different measures so I called ahead to the promoters and asked them if they had a back door entrance near the garbage dumpsters, which of course they did. So I drove to the door and put the car at an angle so that it was towards the door and we made a human chain to keep the fans away and get them in safely. Funny thing is you would have thought it would have been teenagers that were trying to get to the actors, but it was the mothers.
Would you suggest that others think about a life as a chauffeur and if so why and what can they expect?
Absolutely! It is a good life if you want to serve others and are an organized person. You must be prepared and timeliness is key, Golden says, “We will be there 15 minutes early,” but I plan to be there 30 minutes before. Also, that your vehicle and your personal attire and manners are your badge and you must keep the Golden priorities in line — the chauffeur is trained properly, the vehicle is in safe condition, then all focus is on the client.
I tell the new chauffeurs, this will become your life and if you embrace it you will discover a great life. In the beginning my wife was not happy that I was gone all the time, but once the checks started to arrive she decided it was ok if I was not home.
Through the many years Golden has established standards that can make anyone successful if they follow them and pay attention to Sean as he is a man that has gotten this far by setting the example — pay attention he has figured out how to be successful.
You have been at Golden for a long time, are you thinking about retirement? Don’t you get tired?
To tell you the truth no, I plan on driving as long as I am physically able to and when I am not I will move inside to train future chauffeurs. When you love what you do it doesn’t feel like work and if my phone is ringing it means that I am needed to serve. Trust me there have been times when I was in a boat in Florida and they have called for me to come to work and if I was closer I might have. If you chose this life you understand it is the nature of the beast. I can honestly say I have truly enjoyed working for Golden as I do it for the right reasons.
Why do you think clients choose Golden over other companies for their transportation services?
As they know, from the moment they make their reservation, they can worry about everything else as we will handle the logistics. Our clients don’t just want transportation, they want to be driven and cared for with all the details taken care of. As I tell prospective clients, “We are more than just a ride, we are Golden, and if you try us you WILL come back for more.”