Steve Summerton: Head of Regency Limo is Business Person of the Year

Steve Summerton, of Regency Limousine, has owned one business or another since the time he was a 21-year-old Norwalk Community College student. His secret to success?

“I would never ask anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t do,” he said on Friday.

Mr. Summerton, who’s been involved in owning Regency Limo since he and two partners first invested in the business in 1974, was announced last night as the Wilton Chamber of Commerce’s Business Person of the Year.

The award presentation took place at the Chamber’s 23rd Annual Dinner.

As the livery owner said last Friday, everything in business is all about customer service.

“We had a situation back in June where we had to get some kids to their prom,” he said. “Now, even though we’re a limo business, we don’t do many proms.”

His driver was late for his assignment — stuck in Darien with one more person left to drop off. Though he was only wearing a golf shirt and shorts, Mr. Summerton only had one option.

“I said, ‘Call the people and tell them that I’m coming, that I’m in a golf shirt and shorts, but we’re going to get them to their prom,’” he said. “Once in a while you’ve got to go from Clark Kent to Superman.”

This dedication to service runs throughout Mr. Summerton’s business. He credits the hard work of his employees for the continuing success of Regency Limo.

“The dedication and hard work of everybody who works here” makes it so successful, he said. “They put everything into it that they have. On my part, I try to make it a happy environment. I’m not a guy who stands there with a whip.”

“I’ve got a great business, with great people, and great equipment,” he continued. “Plus, we have fantastic customers. Everything — of course — is customer service.”

Janeen Leppert, executive director of Wilton’s Chamber of Commerce, said by email this week the organization picks its yearly award recipient based on a variety of characteristics. The past five presidents of the Chamber board make up the selection panel.

“This panel looks for members of our community who have shown dedication, hard work, and loyalty to the success of our business community in Wilton,” she said.

Chamber President Tierney O’Hearn, part of the panel, said on Monday that Mr. Summerton was honored as the 2013 awardee “for his philanthropic contributions, his collaboration with civic organizations and for enhancing the reputation and the image of Wilton as an outstanding community to live and do business in.”

Some former recipients, Ms. Leppert added, include Peter Keating, former owner of the Village Market, Judy White of Wilton Center Travel and Walter Schalk of the Walter Schalk School of Dance.

The Business Person of the Year first got his start in business as the partial owner of a wholesale/retail auto parts store while he was still attending community college.

“I was 21 years old and my friend was 22. We did it while we were both going to Norwalk Community College. The thing blew up and got really busy. We couldn’t expand, or anything, so I got out of it,” he said.

In addition to owning Regency Limo, Mr. Summerton owned a Darien car wash for more than 20 years.

“I used to have two jobs,” he said with a laugh.

He has always been a huge supporter of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Summerton said, because it provides a great networking opportunity for the Wilton business community.

“I’ve always supported the Chamber,” he said. “It is a great way to get to know other people that are in business in town. The Wilton Chamber is just fantastic. I’ve belonged to five different Chambers, and they are great people to work with. I’ve been a member since day one.”