When all is said and done, there are two types of people in this world: those who would feel comfortable conducting or taking part in a “business” meeting held in an unmarked van and those who would not. It’s important you know which camp you belong in, because according to the Times, the travelling office is officially a thing.
Steve Kantor admits that he likes to travel in style. He is an affable investment banker, concerned about flaunting his wealth, but he drives around Manhattan in what looks like a simple black delivery van. Of course, most vans do not have chauffeurs, as Mr. Kantor’s has. Or a built-in office, custom installed. “I have two big-screen televisions; I have a couch in the back that goes into a bed,” Mr. Kantor said. “I have four chairs that go back and massage you. It has a desk, a table and an intercom so you can have meetings in there if you want to.”
The most popular model is made by Mercedes: a stripped-down, basic version of the van, the Sprinter, starts at $41,315; Mr. Kantor’s version, which Mercedes-Benz Manhattan arranged to have customized, is fitted with satellite television, a Wi-Fi network and flat-screen monitors, and sells for $189,000. Even that is not quite enough for some New Yorkers, who employ designers to install even pricier custom details that easily drive up the total cost to $500,000…And although the modified Mercedes van is popular in several large cities, Howard Becker, president of Becker Automotive Design in Oxnard, Calif., said New York, with its executives in hedge funds and finance, had become his best market…[some owners request] the installation of a vacuum cleaner so the chauffeur can remove every crumb and grain of sand…the vacuum option could be seen on a recent morning on Park Avenue, when Carmelo Umpierre, a 44-year-old chauffeur, idled the $425,000 van he drives for an executive based in Connecticut.
And these things don’t just appeal to people who are attempting to up the sketch factor of their business dealings by leaps and bounds (“Martin Brass, a 43-year-old former Wall Street executive turned investor…said he simply wanted to “have meetings and presentations in those vehicles”). Apparently 18 years and no pre-nup also means family car/conference room. Read more »