Former student takes risks to start limousine business

by SERGIO MADRID//Staff Writer

[Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing project in conjuction with the South Plains College Alumni Association. The project highlights former SPC students and their achievements.]

Derek Dunn started a business after buying a limousine, only to find himself taking over the West Texas market two years later.

While attending South Plains College, Dunn bounced around majors a couple of times, first attempting the medical program. He soon found out that wasn’t for him, then landed in the commercial music program, where he studied guitar and voice, before deciding that he wanted to pursue his own business.

“I took a big risk,” recalls Dunn, who attended SPC from 2011 to 2014. “I put everything I own on collateral when I bought that first car. I was going to lose everything if it didn’t work.”

Last December, Dunn bought out Limousines of Lubbock, renaming the company Black Diamond Limousines. Only a year before, at age 21, Dunn bought his first limousine.

“I thought it would be the coolest thing in the world to have a limo,” said Dunn. “If I could just rent it out to friends to make some money, make payment and insurance, I’ll have a free limo. Well, here we are two years later. I have the largest limo service in Lubbock.”

Dunn’s youth and familiarity with Facebook helped him to compete with the older, more established competition.

“All the other guys in Lubbock were still paying $500 a month having ads in the phone book,” Dunn said. “And I knew that. Who reads the phone book?”

Dunn says that Facebook and Instagram have been about the only outlets of advertisement he has used. But those outlets have been more than enough to help him gain exposure.

The Levelland native explains that he has no intention of expanding for now, adding, “going from the smallest company in town to the largest overnight was a lot to take on.”

“I took on all their drivers,” he continued. “I took on all their limos in the middle of December. If you’re not familiar with the limo business, we do Christmas light tours, and we will run all six cars all 30 days of the month.”

On top of tours, big corporations such as Budweiser will buy out all six limos for the night to transport hundreds of employees to parties and events. Also, funeral homes are starting to rent out limos rather than having their own, bringing about even more consistency to Black Diamonds’ operation.

Though, business is good, Dunn says it is not without slow times. This time of year, everyone is at the fair, and there is not much demand for limos.

“During slow times, we may be running six limos, or we may be running three or four,” Dunn said. “But every business has got a slow season. It doesn’t matter what it is.”

Coming from a small town, most people may be quick to want to leave as fast as they can and never look back. But Dunn is more than content with his hometown.

That is not to say that Dunn isn’t open to the possibility of change. But right now he is enjoying the ride.

One thing is certain, with the growth of Black Diamond Limousines in the Lubbock area, the future is bright for this young man.

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