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1227 Hardin Avenue
Sarasota, FL, 34243
United States

(941) 929-1630

Cruise Car, Inc. is the industry leader of manufacturing low speed vehicles with renewable energy applications. We produce premier passenger shuttles, light-utility vehicles and street legal vehicles. Our products are ideal for all hotels, resorts and universities. 

The Ride

Sarasota's Cruise Car Revs Up for Growth

nathan kalin

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Adam Sulimirski says he’s allergic to the phrase, “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it.”

As CEO and partner of Sarasota-based Cruise Car, he’s making sure that thinking is nowhere to be found at his business, from executive meetings in the office to the warehouse where employees manufacture the fast-growing company's low-speed vehicles.

Always looking for new ways to do it has paid off well for Cruise Car, which was founded in 2004. Cruise Car’s growth — its payroll has jumped nearly fourfold, for one example, from four people to 15 in two years — comes on several fronts. Space, like employees, has also grown rapidly, from a 2,000-square-foot facility in 2017 to a 7,000-square-foot facility to an 18,000-square-foot facility today. And there’s already talk of another expansion.

Cruise Car has even been approached by investment firms and is exploring the idea of taking on a partner as a way to increase cash flow and capture more market share. “It’s an exciting option to consider,” Sulimirski says.

The nimble company has implemented many changes recently, and it has more in the works, constantly chasing improvements and greater sales. That’s the advantage of being a small company, President and Partner Nathan Kalin says. There’s no red tape, so it can implement new ideas quickly.

Cruise Car has built a company around vehicles for specific purposes that can be customized, from seating to storage. It's an approved vendor with the U.S. General Services Administration, and its biggest clients are the U.S. government and military, universities, hotels and resorts, state and local municipalities, museums, airports and state parks. In particular, it has seen major growth from resorts, universities and municipalities. (It also now assembles electric Moke vehicles for Moke America.)

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Beyond customization, the company recently scored a big win: Sourcewell, a cooperative purchasing program that works with government, education and nonprofit organizations, chose Cruise Car for a national program for low-speed vehicles makers, along with Yamaha and Polaris. “It immediately put us on the map with 55,000 municipalities and universities,” Sulimirski says.

A trend toward low-speed vehicles has also helped. The vehicles are appealing to a variety of organizations because of lower purchase prices and costs to operate compared to regular vehicles. Cruise Car vehicles range in price from $7,500 to $20,000.

Most people discover Cruise Car through word of mouth, Sulimirski says, and the company is working to further promote its name recognition through branding. Last year, for example, it added nameplates to the back of its vehicles.

Right now, most assembly is done in Sarasota, with some in Las Vegas. Then vehicles are shipped nationwide. Cruise Car used to outsource that part of the process, but Kalin says it started doing its own shipping and delivering six months ago. “It’s nice to have a branded truck show up,” he says. Plus Sulimirski says it allows the company to control when its vehicles get delivered.

Customers buy vehicles site unseen — a challenge but also an advantage for the company. Because Cruise Car doesn’t have manufacturing facilities across the country and has no third-party dealers, its overhead is lower. That means it can keep its prices competitive, Kalin says.

Calls come in worldwide from people interested in Cruise Car’s vehicles. Recently, an executive from Hong Kong Disneyland came to Cruise Car to place an order. “It’s exciting to see who finds us,” Sulimirski says.

When customers call, Cruise Car employees interview them about their needs and specific features they want. Sulimirski says they often tell customers about vehicles they made for similar organizations, following up with, “But you know what an improvement would be?” Cruise Car also collects customer feedback to determine what to incorporate into the next round of improvements.

Sulimirski and Kalin say the company is constantly working on streamlining. Warehouse employees are encouraged to suggest ways to shave off time from certain processes. “We’re always looking at the clock,” Sulimirski says. “Where can we cut time down? It’s always a game of catching up to our orders.”

To encourage efficiency, Cruise Car employees are incentivized with a bonus system tied into monthly production goals. It’s meant to both increase production and create a team environment, so employees share in success together. “Just about everybody has an incentive to go above and beyond,” Kalin says.

In its quest to continue growing, Cruise Car is also thinking about getting into retail sales. Cruise Car’s 90-day turnaround has kept it out of retail so far, but it’s working to reduce it. That involves managing cash flow, so it has existing inventory, Kalin says, and that’s the biggest challenge with growth — cash flow in an inventory and materials-heavy business.

It’s easier dealing with a fleet order of 24 vehicles than an order for a single vehicle, Sulimirski admits, but that doesn’t mean lower-quantity sales aren’t valuable. “We’re not into sales prevention,” he says. “Every sale is great.”

Sarasota's Cruise Car Wins Hong Kong Disneyland Contract

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Sarasota-based Cruise Car Inc. has won a contract to supply Hong Kong Disneylandwith its unique, custom-built low-speed vehicles. The contract, which was approved this week by the Hong Kong Department of Transportation (DOT), is the first time Cruise Car has sold directly to Disney; past contracts have been through Disney’s vendors. 

Golf cart-style, low-speed vehicles are currently capped in Hong Kong at about 500 units, which required the need for the Hong Kong DOT to approve a license to bring in additional vehicles. Cruise Car worked closely with Hong Kong Disneyland’s management team and Hong Kong authorities to obtain this approval. After meeting in Sarasota with the Hong Kong-based engineering team, a formal purchase order was issued with a multi-year opportunity for Cruise Car to ultimately replace their 60-vehicle fleet. 

Hong Kong Disneyland initially selected two Cruise Car models: a four-passenger cart with a built-in storage locker and caged cargo basket, and a light utility cart with a 4-by-6-foot bed and a 10-square-foot storage locker within the body. Hong Kong Disneyland required the vehicles to be aluminum to avoid rust, and selected a fully programmable and powerful motor controller package. Cruise Cars are engineered to endure aggressive use, challenging topography and a salt-air environment. They are custom-built to handle specific tasks and are currently in use at over 1,000 flagship properties worldwide.

GrowFL Award - Top Companies to Watch in Florida

nathan kalin

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 Adam Sulimirski, President

Nathan Kalin, EVP, Co-Owner

Year Founded: 2004

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ABOUT

Cruise Car is the leading American manufacturer of customized, street-legal, LOW-SPEED vehicles. The company has redefined the market by successfully engineering a diverse product line, allowing national fleet buyers to custom-order need-specific vehicles at highly competitive price points.  Cruise Car’s unique product design and marketing approach has been rewarded with contracts to supply federal agencies including military bases, embassies, municipalities, universities, non-profits and multinational resorts and theme parks. The Cruise Car factory is located in Sarasota, Florida, and vehicles with a maximum speed of 25-mph have been shipped both nationwide and to over 30 countries.

LOW SPEED VEHICLE MANUFACTURER WITH RENEWABLE ENERGY CAPABILITIES SHINES AS A FLORIDA COMPANIES TO WATCH HONOREE

Adam Sulimirski learned early in his career that a cubicle in corporate America was not where he was meant to be. “I started in finance, working for a big investment firm in New York. I wore a headset and I knew this wasn’t going to work,” he said.

Sulimirski needed to return to his entrepreneurial roots. “It goes all the way back to high school where I perpetually knocked on neighborhood doors presenting myself for any menial job. Throughout college I pursued similar opportunities. It is embedded in who I am,” he said.

He had heard about Ken Chester, CEO and founder of Cruise Car, who had the idea of putting solar panels on golf carts. After a short conversation with him, Sulimirski created his opportunity. “I went in and chatted with him, and he wasn’t hiring, but I loved what he was doing. So after our meeting, I started calling around and asking people if they knew anything about his product.”

Later that same evening, Sulimirski found a break where he least expected it. “I was on the sidelines of my son’s soccer game and another parent who was involved with Sarasota Parks mentioned she was actually looking for that exact type of vehicle. So, I found a couple leads in a matter of 24 hours, and I went back to Ken with what I found. My involvement really came from continuing the conversation and having the initiative to look for opportunities where there were none,” Sulimirski shared.

Almost 10 years later, Sulimirski hasn’t looked back. Chester retired in 2016 and generously offered Sulimirski and Nathan Kalin an opportunity to take ownership. Today, Cruise Car stands alone as the world’s premier designer and manufacturer of street-legal low-speed vehicles with renewable energy capabilities. “We are probably the most flexible, low-speed vehicle company in the country.”

Sulimirski explained that although solar was the hook that brought Cruise Car attention, sales catapulted after the company’s responsiveness to an increased demand for renewable energy. “During the Gulf War, fuel was $400 a gallon given the need to protect fuel lines, so the military asked if we could build customized solar-electric low-speed vehicles. That was our fast track on a federal level and we were recognized nationwide, which really pried the door open,” he said. “Then NBC/Universal, Paramount Studios, Warner Brothers, and Sheraton Resorts came in for a wide variety of vehicles. As soon as you have some credibility, people think, ‘hey if they’re looking at it, then I should too.’”

Keeping a Competitive Edge

To keep up with big-name clients, Cruise Car must keep their competitive edge by focusing on price, customization, client relationships, quality and a quick turnaround time.

The whole process begins with building a relationship with the client and finding out what they’re looking for. Out-of-state clients often get a face-to-face visit from Cruise Car, which Sulimirski considers extremely valuable. “We interview people to determine their specific needs, then build a custom product based on their input.”

Finding success in customization, Cruise Car created five car lengths, all of which can be modified with interchangeable seat and utility pods for the individual customer. Sulimirski added that their efficiencies in production keep them competitive and allow them to deliver vehicles in record time. “We deliver a custom order in under 90 days, in contrast with our competitors who offer limited models at a more expensive price point with longer lead times. Customization is our core competency. We figure out what the customer wants and deliver it quickly at a very competitive price-point.”

An Employee Driven Work Culture

Sulimirski understands the role that work culture plays in a company’s success. Knowing this, he emphasizes a work-hard, play-hard environment. Everyone is equally valued and included in company conversations. “We have pride in what we are doing,” he said. “We remind our employees that every job is critical to the success of the company.”

Cruise Car often hires those who might otherwise be challenged to find work. “Staffers include formerly incarcerated and recovering addicts who deserve the opportunity to start fresh and demonstrate excellence,” Sulimirski explained. “We also work with Suncoast Career Source, utilizing programs to hire workers from migrant families seeking to learn tangible skills.”

“Our team’s young and extremely committed,” he said, “yet our environment is fun and exciting. Growth obviously comes with stress, but we all enjoy attacking daily challenges. My business partner, Nathan Kalin is only 27 years old and he told me, “I just can’t imagine doing anything else.” Nathan brings a millennial can-do attitude and has successfully helped push the company forward on all fronts.

What it Means to be an Honoree

Cruise Car was selected as an honoree for this year’s Florida Companies to Watch, which recognizes second-stage companies located in Florida. Honorees demonstrate high performance, growth and innovation in the marketplace, and Sulimirski describes the nomination as a surprise.

“It’s a reminder that we are doing something right. So often you’re in the trenches fighting the fight every day, making hundreds of decisions every week, and you don’t look up to realize ‘wow we are doing something pretty special,’” he shared. “Being recognized by people we admire is humbling.”

Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

For upcoming entrepreneurs facing similar challenges on their journey, Sulimirski offers a few things to consider.

“Control what you can control. Don’t forget, every entrepreneur goes through ups and downs. Set a goal and aim towards it despite the knocks that inevitably come your way. Know that the most successful entrepreneurs have gone through major hardships,” he shared.

He went on to remind entrepreneurs at every stage, things aren’t always what they seem.

“It’s so easy to look at a success story and presume that it’s been easy sailing and think they’re so lucky. No, it hasn’t always been easy. They’ve worked hard.”

Lastly, be open to conversation. “I’m constantly walking around with a pen and paper in my pocket, taking notes. People are so giving and generous with their information. Never go into any conversation thinking you know it all. Just listen. The information is endless.”

Honorable Community Support

Most team members at Cruise Car are involved with a charity of their choice, including Project 180, Take Stock in Children, Southeast Guide Dogs, the Humane Society of Sarasota.

Cruise Car Inc. President, Adam Sulimirski, Wins Ringling College Innovation by Creative Design Award

Maria Lane

Left to Right: Mark Huey, President of the Economic Development Council; Larry Thomson, President of Ringling College of Art & Design; Adam Sulimirski, President of Cruise Car, Inc.

Left to Right: Mark Huey, President of the Economic Development Council; Larry Thomson, President of Ringling College of Art & Design; Adam Sulimirski, President of Cruise Car, Inc.

The 2017 Ringling College Innovation by Design Award went to Adam Sulimirski, president and co-owner of Cruise Car Inc. The annual award was established in 2015 and is given to an individual who has used creativity in design to create a successful product and to solve market problems.

Cruise Car builds specialty electric golf carts and utility vehicles. The custom low-speed vehicles with renewable energy capabilities — some with solar panels on the roof — can carry up to 16 passengers. Some are built for wheelchairs, one’s an ambulance, some carry cargo and many are street legal where speed limits do not exceed 35 mph.

Larry Thompson, president of the Ringling College of Art and Design, said the innovation award went this year to a company in an industry “you wouldn’t think innovative” and “completed a customer-driven redesign” of every aspect of its products to satisfy clients.  — Chris Wille, Herald Tribune

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