Looking back on his many years as President of Vital Transportation, Berj Haroutunian says that he’s never seen the industry go through as much turmoil as it did from COVID-19, but is thrilled that business is finally starting to return, as New York City fully opens back up this summer.
In addition to an influx of trips from clients that hit the pause button during the pandemic, Berj is optimistic about the coming months, in part because of momentous decision he recently made: This past Spring, Berj stepped down as President of Vital and his son, Greg, was unanimously elected by Vital’s Board to take over the role.
“Greg has held many positions within the industry over the years,” explains Berj. “He’s smart, knows the ins-and-outs, and has some great ideas to help grow the company and take it to the next level.”
Far from retiring, Berj is instead putting his efforts into the New York Black Car Fund (NYBCF), an organization he helped create, which provides workers’ compensation and a long list of benefits to drivers, paid for by a small surcharge on every ride they perform. Berj served as Chairman of the Board for the NYBCF for many years, but in his new role as Executive Chairman he will be working more closely with Executive Director, Ira Goldstein, and developing new benefits and safety programs for drivers.
“Stepping down as President of Vital allows me to give the Black Car Fund my full attention,” he explains. “It’s 10x the size it was when it was started, so it just made sense. They needed someone and the timing was right.”
Greg, who was elected to Vital’s Board of Directors last year and officially became President in late-April of 2021, brings with him business development, marketing, technology and leadership skills that will serve him well in his new role overseeing the company.
“Our biggest priority at this moment is bringing on more drivers to cover the work that is starting to come in,” explains Greg. “The city was on-hold for so long, we’re anticipating a real surge before the end of summer.”
To help accommodate the expected uptick in business, Vital is part of the Executive Transportation Group (ETG) Consortium, which offers them access to additional vehicles during busy times of day, in addition to other cost-saving initiatives.
Meanwhile, Greg said he is working on modernizing the business and fine-tuning the customer service experience: “I am focusing on adding more luxury vehicles to Vital’s fleet, including electric and hybrid vehicles, and I am working to expand globally, which will allow us to better serve our clients in cities around the world, and of course, generate more revenue,” explains Greg.
Greg also recently was nominated for and unanimously elected to the Board of Directors for the Black Car Assistance Corporation (BCAC), an organization that Berj presided over for 15 years. Berj is remaining active at the BCAC but is not currently on the Board. He will continue to serve on Vital’s Board.
“It was not an easy decision,” says Berj, who joined Vital in 1984 as a driver, was voted President of the company in 1992, and spent almost 30 years running it. “But I’m confident it was the right decision, both for Vital and the Black Car Fund. Greg brings a lot to the table, and I’m excited to see what the future brings.”