A Legacy started in Suffolk
Published 9:44 pm Thursday, August 13, 2015
By Henry Luzzatto
Chris Johnson, owner of Legacy Limousine and Luxury Coaches, is a businessman on the rise.
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Johnson was selected by the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce as the winner of the Young Entrepreneur Award, and his business was selected as the Chesapeake Small Business of the Year.
“Naysayers stood in line and said it couldn’t happen,” Johnson said. “I showed them, because we did it.”
Legacy Limousine and Luxury Coaches is a Chesapeake-based business that designs and renovates coaches, buses and limousines and rents them, offering transportation to individuals and businesses.
The business is located in Chesapeake, but it serves locations across the country and even Canada.
Johnson said he got his start in manufacturing when he was 17, and, during 10 years of training, learned to design, engineer and build buses, coaches and limousines.
“I like managing a business,” Johnson said. “But designing, engineering — that’s my passion, period.”
Legacy Limousines and Luxury Coaches began as a single-car rental service that Johnson started in Suffolk and ran out of his driveway, he said.
He originally bought his first limousine for personal use but realized that it could be lucrative to rent. In 2010, he started limousine rentals, and then in 2012, he began working on the business full time.
In the beginning, Johnson said, it was difficult to break into the industry, despite his experience.
“You have to have capital, because buses are so expensive,” Johnson said. “And you have to have people that have faith in you, because building something like this is a huge investment.”
Since the beginning, Legacy Limousines and Luxury Coaches has grown into a business of 15 vehicles, all of which were designed and built by Johnson and his staff.
Johnson buys old buses and vans that are stripped of amenities and designs and builds interiors to match the desires of his clientèle.
He then leases the vehicles for parties, corporate events, long distance travel and personal use.
Johnson started the business in Suffolk, but moved it to Chesapeake once it began to expand, so he could be closer to his clients, he said. The business’s next big step is another move, this time to a larger facility in Virginia Beach.
“We’ve honestly outgrown our current site,” Johnson said. “When we move, we can expand business operations and we can expand different product lines.”
Johnson said the new facility will be six times larger than his current business, and will enable the company to increase productivity by 400 percent.
Johnson says that even though he has moved away, he still considers Suffolk home. He said he plans to move back one day, but now, his focus is on growing and expanding the business that has brought him success.