The Turkish King of Limousines

Image Teaneck, NJ - After learning the secrets of Turkish cuisine, his dream was always to open a restaurant. He was a very talented and hard working man who looked for a bright future for himself. After working eight years in various Turkish restaurants as a head cook, he changed his career from the culinary arts to the sea. Being a sailor was joyful job as a young man and he worked 10 years from port to port in different countries. He traveled to over 40 countries, even though he did not like any of them, and experienced diverse cultures, but he was still seeking a challenge.

When he was a 26-year-old man, his mother encouraged him to go to the United States. Most mothers want their children to keep close to them but his case was different. “She was concerned about my life. She did not want me to work as a sailor at sea,” he says.  

The story of Emin Kahyaoğlu, owner of one of the biggest limousine companies owned by a Turkish American on the East Cost of the United States, started in 1986. When he learned that a pizza delivery boy made $250 a week in Philadelphia, he changed his mind and back to his ship. “I was making much more money. Why should I waste my time in a pizza job,” he says. After 8 months, his second visit to Philadelphia he decided to move to New York with his friends. “I traveled to New York on a cold winter night by train.”  

In the first days of his New York adventure, he made a job appointment with a relative who had gas stations in Long Island but the owner of the stations did not show up. He stayed with seven roommates in Kings Highway, Brooklyn for a while. “I had to find my own way. I found a job in Brooklyn as a butcher,” Kahyaoğlu tells us.    

He had butcher experiences in Istanbul and used to sell meat to ships. He only worked for a month as a butcher since he had a fight with his colleagues. Every new job was more difficult than the previous one. Kahyaoğlu’s next job was in a bakery. He used to work every day from 3am to 12am for $290 weekly. Once again, his working experience at this job was not more than a year.

At that time, he finally got his driver’s license. He still remembers that he had no money to pay the driver’s license fee to the Motor Vehicles Bureau. He borrowed $20 from someone whom he did not know. With a driver’s license, he started to work for a bakery as a driver. After tireless days and nights, it was time to visit his family and he went to Turkey.

When he came back to the U.S., his new job was in a gas station, as many newcomers have done, and his new life began with a new career in New Jersey. After working a couple of weeks, he said to his boss: “Working as a gas boy is not my job. I will look around for another job. If I do not find anything, I will come back.”

His boss smiled and said: “You will come back.” He was irritated and replied, “I will not.”

Kahyaoğlu worked for an Italian sanitation company and collected garbage but his destiny was the same, he had to quit the job.

In those days, a shopping center was looking for employees for its food section. He filled out the form and applied as a dishwasher. When the manager reviewed his resume, he asked why he was applying for a dishwasher position, as he could do better. “First give me a chance to work as a dishwasher. If you like my work, you can promote me,” he replied.

He became head cook of the food section in six months. When he worked as a cook, he bought a 1992 model town car for working part time. He got involved with the limo business and the company offered him a full time job, but later they changed their mind.  If had started to full time work for the company, he probably would never have had his own limo company.  Kahyaoğlu smiles and says, “They forced me to do limo business.”

He started to transport hotel customers. His first corporate client was Clinton Inn Hotel in Tenafly, NJ. “With the help of my friend at the hotel, I start to serve famous people.”

While watching Jeopardy, the world-famous American television quiz program, he saw a contestant give Kismet as the answer to a question, and the word Kismet inspired Kahyaoğlu. He named his company Kismet Executive Limo in 1993.

Kismet Limo made a big leap in the 2000’s. In 2001, the company had 52 cars in its fleet but the September 11 attacks shook the company. The company got back on its feet quickly. Currently Kahyaoğlu has 88 limousines in his fleet. When he is asked that there is any other big Turkish owned limousine company in New York metropolitan area, he says Pegasus Limousine, founded by Cengiz Taşdemir in 1995.

Operating out of a 5000 square foot facility, Kismet serves the corporate market in the New York metropolitan area. Kahyaoğlu adds with a smile,: “If you see Kismet Turkey soon, don’t be surprised.”

Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07