Episode 61: S6E6 – Growing Personally and Professionally
On today’s episode, Tom Dunlap chats with Kristina Bouweiri about how she transformed her business, Reston Limousine, during Covid.
Surviving the Pandemic
After spending thirty years building her transportation business, Kristina found herself in a dire situation a year ago. During a time in which everyone was mandated to stay at home, Kristina’s busses and limousines became obsolete overnight. Of her 450 employees, she had to lay off 300 just to stay afloat.
Kristina then pivoted her business to food delivery, organ transplant transportation, as well as transporting Covid-positive patients to quarantine. Since then, her business has improved and only continued to improve.
The Power of the Person
While Kristina pivoted impressively, she didn’t have to do so alone. Through networking, she was able to land the opportunity with Din Din, the food service her company delivered for that connects chefs with kitchens during Covid. For the organ transportation service, she called everyone she knew, lowered her rates, and grew that sector successfully for her company.
The Quarantine Transportation
After establishing a connection with the city, Kristina retrofitted her vans to be Covid-safe, equipped with plastic shields, medical PPE, and electrostatic sanitation. Of her 450 employees, no one contracted Covid from the job.
While that segment of her business has stopped, Kristina believes that around flu-season in the future, she will continue to sanitize and be more health conscious.
For her employees, Kristina has not required vaccination, but rather highly recommended it. She does allow customers to choose their comfort level and therefore, some employees cannot drive certain customers.
The Origins of Reston Limousine
Kristina believes that while she has worked tirelessly in her career, she was only in the right place at the right time. When she began in the 90s, she benefited from the .com phase. Another time, someone mentioned a government contract job to her and after applying, won that job. For the next five years, she won every single government contract she bid on.
She tells the story of the next three decades, bringing the business from $5 million to $30 million.
Originally, Kristina volunteered as a way to network and grow her business. Overtime, she grew more attached to those organizations and to helping them raise money and increase impact. From her time working at silent auctions, galas and other fundraisers, she was offered board seats and now sits on 10 boards.
Growing Professionally and Personally
While sitting on those boards, Kristina found herself growing and changing for the better. She also joined business book clubs, networks and other groups that have helped her evolve to be a better person and businesswoman.
3 Pieces of Advice
In reflecting on her experience, Kristina offers a few tips, the first being always schedule time for networking. She also loves connecting people in her own network to each other.
The second thing Kristina recommends would be to join a peer group. Peer groups not only provide relationships and connections, but they can also give much needed advice when you face challenges.
Lastly, Kristina encourages everyone to be a life-long learner. Don’t be afraid to keep learning—in fact, seek it out. Join book clubs, take classes or listen to podcasts.
The last thing that Kristina urges any businessowner to do is to take risks. Take risks because even though it may not work out, it could also be the best decision you’ve ever made.