After graduating from the College of Charleston in 2009, Toan Dao, a first-generation immigrant from South Vietnam, looked beyond the economic recession and drew on his entrepreneurial instincts.
For three years, Dao worked every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night as a limousine driver, saving enough money to purchase his first sport utility vehicle—and An Executive Travel was born.
“I knew there was a need for an affordable, reliable, luxury transportation and travel service in Charleston,” Dao explains.
“Our clients want to be treated individually and fairly,” he says. “A guest in Charleston can call me to schedule transportation services, tours, flowers for his or her date, restaurant reservations, club bottle service—even fishing charters.” Today, 75 percent of An Executive Travel’s business comes from local accounts and referrals.
Dao is a proud supporter of local businesses and has affiliations with hotels, restaurants and businesses throughout the Charleston area, from Market Pavilion, Planters Inn and Charleston Place to Blackbaud and Boeing.
In addition to affordability, dependability and class, An Executive Travel is South Carolina’s first “green” limousine service, according to Dao. Almost 80 percent of the company’s fares are delivered using the Volkswagen Passat TDI, a vehicle that gets 43 miles to the gallon and won Motor Trend’s 2012 Green Car of the Year honors.
“The Passat TDI decreases annual fuel costs by almost 60 percent,” Dao says, “a savings I can pass on to my customers.”
Dao has also been able to increase his fleet to five vehicles, an accomplishment that he humbly credits his wife, Quyen, with helping him achieve.
Dao puts in over 80 hours of work a week, but wouldn’t have it any other way. “There is no substitute for hard work,” he says.