Sheriff gets out of limousine biz

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LEWISTON – Days can stretch too long, even for a guy with a 14-passenger Ford Excursion in the garage.

So Guy Desjardins gave in.

When his new job as Androscoggin County’s sheriff proved too much work to operate Imperial Limousine on the side – even with his wife, Chris, sharing the load – he sold out.

“Right up until the November election, I had hoped to keep the company,” Desjardins said Monday. But that election against his former boss was stressful. Then came a budget battle and growing tension with the county commission.

“I knew then that it would be very, very difficult for me to keep the business,” the sheriff said.

The Desjardinses sold the company to the Portland-based Atlantic Limousine and Yacht Charter Service for an undisclosed sum.

“We got back our investment,” the sheriff said.

And the sale left no one hanging.

“I could have sold off the cars individually, he said. He might have made more money but the business would have been dissolved.

The new owner of his four-car fleet agreed to keep Desjardins’ two drivers and honor a growing list of agreements for weddings and other events this year.

“I could have returned people’s deposits,” he said. “What would I tell all my brides?”

It’s something Desjardins felt passionately about.

In 1999, he purchased one car and was hired to drive about 30 just-married couples. Last year, his company did five times that many.

“It was great for us,” he said. “But it grew like crazy.”

It was meant to be a hobby, something for him to do on Saturdays when his wife was working.

Demand grew. Soon, it became a busy part-time job.

“I would come home to 30 messages on the phone,” he said.

Had he stayed in the business, he would have expanded further, probably buying a Hummer limo. But it was time to get through, he said.

“When I started, I told my wife I didn’t want to be driving a limo when I was 55,” he said. “I’ll be 54 in August. I’m just getting through a year early.”

Now, he listens to the quiet, rarely interrupted by the phone.

Rarely, the phone rings from the Sheriff’s Department.

“Usually those calls come at midnight or 1 a.m.,” he said, “and something bad has happened.”

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