Photograph: Award winning team at the Professional Driver magazine awards; Manoj Teji second from the left
My conversation with Manoj Teji was brief, because the founder-owner of Embassy Executive Cars was rushing off to deliver 20 sleeping bags his firm was donating to a homeless charity in Ealing. He’d just won an award from Professional Driver magazine and was delighted. “It’s a very big deal in our industry” he told me. The awards, for quality, service and innovation, are considered the hallmark of professionalism in the world of private hire cars. “The awards are national, so this is huge for us”.
Embassy Executive Cars, based in Chiswick and Ealing, runs a fleet of Mercedes of various models, including a seven-seater Viano, Mercedes S Class and Mercedes E Class, offering high-quality executive travel to corporate customers across London.
They won the bronze award for Chauffeur Company of the Year, middle range fleet of 11 – 30 cars. Professional Driver magazine says: ‘Embassy Cars’ growing fleet and customer base, and increasing focus on events, are likely to elevate it into the big league at some stage’.
Big business from small beginnings
Manoj has grown the business from scratch with a business partner John Greene. Growing up in Southall, his parents were factory workers who had come to Britain from India in the late 1950s. He left school without any qualifications, he told me. There have been umpteen reports written on the ways in which the British education system failed Black and Brown boys at that time, not that Manoj blames the system at all.
Times were different. Manoj has children of his own aged 22 and 24 and in their peer group there’s no one who hasn’t been to university, but when he was young there was no such expectation. His parents were working flat out to pay the bills, without what we might describe now as the ‘bandwidth’ to push their son at school as well.
He went to work collecting glasses in a nightclub. He evidently inherited his parents’ work ethic, as he worked his way up to bar manager and then general manager of the Ealing Boulevard club. After managing that and another club he started a mini-cab firm, starting out with five mini-cab cars at Boston Manor.
He now runs a fleet of luxury cars which he and his business partner have built up over 20 years. They have established themselves as major providers of executive cars in the corporate market in west London, including being the authorised supplier for Chiswick Business Park.
What makes a good car firm?
In the private car hire world drivers are self-employed, but Embassy Executive Cars have drivers who have been with them for 10, 15 or 18 years, since the beginning. They put a high premium on cleanliness and smartness and also on safety, both in terms of servicing and insuring the vehicles and in terms of checking the identity and background of the drivers.
Their S Class Mercedes cost £80,000 apiece and if you’re going to Henley or Ascot and wish to arrive in style, they’re just the ticket. A lot of their business is for corporate events, conferences and parties, as well as the more standard airport and office transfers. They also offer wedding transport.
“Uber should police their drivers”
I asked Manoj his view on Uber, since Transport for London had just turned down its application to renew its licence. The cheap ride firm is so far removed from the likes of Embassy Cars that the decision doesn’t affect his business directly, although it suits him to have the private hire market so clearly delineated.
“I don’t think they should be closed down” he told me, “I think TfL didn’t do their homework properly. They should control them better and get rid of unlicensed drivers and dirty or damaged cars, and also improve the dress code. I think Uber should police themselves better too”.
Uber was stripped of its London licence after it was found that more than 14,000 trips were taken with drivers who had faked their identity on the firm’s app.
Members of The Chiswick Calendar Club Card scheme
I am delighted to say that Embassy Executive Cars are now members of The Chiswick Calendar Club Card scheme, offering 10% off to anyone who books mentioning The Chiswick Calendar, and shows their Club Card when asked. The firm’s standard fares are £35 Chiswick to Heathrow, £35 Chiswick to central London and £45 – £50 to east London.
To book a car ring them on 0208 568 5555.