A Drive for Success
Nearly 20 years ago, when then-advertising saleswoman Kristina Bouweiri, BA ’85, met with the owner of a limousine service to collect her commission check, the encounter changed her life forever. At that short business meeting, she found her future husband—and her future career.
Now president and CEO of Reston Limousine Service, Ms. Bouweiri has helped the business grow into the largest private transportation fleet in the Washington area and the 17th-largest fleet in the country. She’s claimed numerous awards, including Enterprising Woman of the Year from Enterprising Women magazine.
Six months after that first meeting, Ms. Bouweiri joined the staff of William Bouweiri’s limousine company in 1991; she married him months later. Now, Reston Limousine Service—run by a staff of 220 drivers and 39 administrators—has a fleet of 150 vehicles: 55-passenger coach buses, limo buses, vans, sedans, SUVs, and a variety of limousines, including 14-passenger Hummers.
“Our approach is simple; we’ve always bought brand new equipment and always hired great drivers,” Ms. Bouweiri says.
Among her first business-savvy moves was getting into wedding transportation. Within a year, the company was working with 50 weddings a weekend. But business really grew, Ms. Bouweiri says, with government contracting and group transportation. The company won the first government contract Ms. Bouweiri bid on; the next five years, it won every transportation contract in D.C. and has since diversified into universities, hospitals, hotels, and conventions.
During the first few years, the Bouweiris also personally answered the phones around the clock. “I found the opportunity to have my own business very exciting,” Ms. Bouweiri says.
For the first 10 years, Ms. Bouweiri says, she and her husband were inseparable, running the business side by side. Then her husband turned the business over to Ms. Bouweiri so that he could oversee the building of their custom home and be a stay-at-home father. “He was tired of the business, and I loved the business,” she recalls. Since then, Reston Limousine Service has tripled in size. Now, buses that ferry workers during the week carry wine lovers to vineyards, sightseers through D.C., and partyers to proms and weddings on the weekends.
“When it comes to running the business, I pretty much learned everything I know by doing it the wrong way the first time,” says Ms. Bouweiri, who is admittedly a bit of a workaholic. After a few years, the thrill of riding in a limousine wore off, says Ms. Bouweiri, who uses a town car and driver on D.C. visits but insists on driving herself to Virginia appointments.
To be a successful businesswoman, Ms. Bouweiri says that focusing on customer service and treating employees well are vital. Technology, too, helped set her company apart: There’s a GPS in every vehicle that tracks speed, location, and idling time. Each bus is also equipped with cameras that record everything from the vehicle’s diagnostics to driver behavior.
Part of the business, for Ms. Bouweiri, has been philanthropy. Ms. Bouweiri dispatches limos for the Make-A-Wish Foundation to take kids and their families to the airport for their Wish vacation or to Disney World. She also provides sightseeing tours in D.C. for families of sick children at the National Institutes of Health.
Ms. Bouweiri’s passion for helping kids stems from her initial trouble having children; now the couple has four. “After going through five years of thinking that we were never going to have kids, and then being blessed like that, it made us want to give back,” says Ms. Bouweiri, who has won three regional awards and one national award for her generosity.
Long before her career took off, Ms. Bouweiri’s international upbringing (her parents were in the Foreign Service) led to an interest and major in international affairs at GW. Her degree in international studies has proved useful when working with embassies, international companies, and the Royal Family of Spain, she says.
“I remember back when I was a college student, wondering what was in my future,” she says, “and I really have exceeded my own expectations about where my life would take me.”