Driven am­bi­tion seals global deals

Michael O’Hare’s chauf­feur­ing busi­ness has made in-roads around the world, but he has no plans to hit the brakes just yet, writes Ron Clark

The Herald Business - - Cover Story -

YOU know what it’s like when you step off the plane, your right arm slightly fa­tigued from lift­ing coupes de cham­pagne, and all you want to do is be whisked away from the te­dium of the air­port to that nice suite in the Man­darin Ori­en­tal in Hong Kong or the Ritz Carl­ton in Cen­tral Park, New York.

You know, too, how con­ve­nient it is to have a sleek black car wait­ing for you, with a smartly turned-out driver who knows your name and your pref­er­ences in drinks and news­pa­pers. You don’t? Well, luck­ily, there’s a man who does. He’s based in Go­van, Glas­gow and has built a multi-mil­lion pound Scot­tish com­pany mak­ing sure peo­ple for whom time is money are never in the in­vid­i­ous po­si­tion of wast­ing a moment.

Step for­ward Michael O’Hare, a son of Cam­bus­lang whose global chauf­feur­ing en­ter­prise The Book­ing Room now reaches deep into the classier quar­ters of Lon­don, Hong Kong, Paris, New York and, later this year, Brazil.

If a team of Gold­man Sachs’ Masters of the Uni­verse or a duo of Deutsche Bank’s dash­ing deal­ers are in town, they are likely to be wear­ing out their Black­ber­rys in the back of a Book­ing Room Beamer.

Or, if the mu­si­cal may­hem of the MTV awards needs a short no­tice fleet of 150 limos to get stars to the right place at the right time, the or­gan­is­ers have The Book­ing Room on speed dial.

It’s a lu­cra­tive niche po­si­tion in a crowded and com­pet­i­tive mar­ket which has pushed The Book­ing Room turnover to £14m in the year ended De­cem­ber 31 – a fig­ure which is pro­jected to dou­ble to £28m by the end of 2014.

It’s not a niche for the faint­hearted. Of the MTV awards, for which he has pro­vided trans­port for eight out of the past 10 years, Michael O’Hare says: “It’s more like a sleep de­pri­va­tion ex­er­cise for a week than a con­tract.”

But it’s quite clear that the 47year-old former pro­fes­sional golfer is quite com­fort­able in his niche and is plot­ting to ex­pand into new mar­kets and em­bark on a ma­jor re­brand­ing ex­er­cise in the coming year, as well as build­ing the US busi­ness to match UK fig­ures.

Ap­pro­pri­ately for one of the smartest, hi-tech ground trans­porta­tion busi­nesses around, it has been quite a jour­ney, with plenty of twists and turns to main­tain in­ter­est along the route.

It be­gan in the ba­ro­nial splen­dour of the Sher­brooke Cas­tle Ho­tel, which O’Hare’s fa­ther owned in the leafy sub­urbs of Glas­gow’s south side. Michael was in­volved in the fam­ily busi­ness, but found time to be­come a golf pro at Gled­doch, try­ing for his Euro­pean Tour card.

When he was 21, how­ever, his

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