From left to right, Michael Saunders poses with his business partners Ernest Asiedu and Dulani Christian.
Caesars Entertainment’s commitment to diversity extends into our supply chain. From the chicken served in meals at Horseshoe Baltimore to the VIP ride that gets you there, many individual companies provide products and services. Whenever possible, we try to support companies run by women, people of color, LGBTQ people, veterans and more – what’s known as “diverse suppliers.”
We sat down to chat with business owners to learn about what they do and we’re featuring their stories here on the blog. Next up is Michael Saunders and his business partners at Universal Metropolitan Group Chauffeured, Ernest Asiedu and Dulani Christian.
Caesars Citizenship Blog: Thanks for speaking with us today, Michael. What does UMG Chauffeured do?
Michael Saunders: We provide VIP transportation for Horseshoe Baltimore – our goal is to make each trip feel like our guest has his or her own personal chauffeur. Anybody can drive a car, but this is about service.
CCB: We know that Horseshoe Baltimore guests really appreciate that VIP service from UMG! How did the company come about?
MS: Well, I’m doing this interview on behalf of my two business partners – we’re a team. Ernest Asiedu is our director of operations and Dulani Christian is our director of human resources. The three of us go way back in the hospitality business, and that’s what we’ve based UMG’s services around.
We worked in guest services together at Renaissance in downtown Baltimore. I left for a while to work for the railroad, but I wanted to provide more for my family when my first child was born, so I decided to go out on my own and start a business. I reconnected with Ernest and Christian through Renaissance and because we trusted each other, we decided to join forces. We incorporated UMG Chauffeured on July 1, 2004 and today we have eight full time employees plus a few part-timers.
CCB: Thirteen years in business – congrats! Where does UMG serve, besides Baltimore?
MS: We’ve expanded far beyond Baltimore – we also serve Atlantic City, New York, even North Carolina. We have a network of affiliates across the country. Also, we have a few drivers whose clients have flown them somewhere just to drive them!
CCB: Sounds like a seriously loyal customer. So if I’m on my way to Horseshoe Baltimore, what rides do you have for me?
MS: We’ve got 12 vehicles in our fleet, from Chrysler 300 sedans to Chevy Suburbans to minibuses for larger groups.
CCB: What’s your advice for success in business?
MS: You know, we had some dark hours in 2008, but going through a recession means we know we can make it long-term.
As an entrepreneur, it’s important to know that you don’t jump out there and make a lot of money at first. You have to have a vision, and once you truly believe it and pursue it wholeheartedly, you’ll enjoy going to work.
Ernest and Christian, my business partners, feel the same way, and our employees rally around that. When times get lean, we band together.
CCB: What’s your favorite activity outside of running UMG with Ernest and Christian?
MS: Well, we actually socialize outside of work with each other and UMG’s drivers. We’ll have get-togethers and bring our families, and we try not to talk about work too much!
Sometimes I’ll check out Jack Binion’s for a meal, too.
CCB: Nice! Thanks for chatting with us, Michael.