Power Commuters

How some of our county’s professionals make their way to work—and back.

James Beplat
manager The Art of Wine Inc.

Mode of Transportation: Bianchi Hybrid
From: Pleasantville To: Pleasantville

Why bicycle to work? I live about ten blocks away. Although I am an environmentalist, I don’t bike for ideology as much as the thrill of flying. For The Art of Wine, I recently biked to an industry-only wine-tasting at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Tarrytown.
Do you ride in winter? Last winter’s massive snowfalls forced me to walk on just three occasions.
Added any custom touches? I added a white headlight and a flashing red taillight. Along with a good helmet, they give me confidence to flow with traffic, even at night. Now that it is my sole means of commuting, I am thinking of adding a chain guard and front fender.
How much did your bicycle cost? I purchased it for seven hundred dollars about ten years ago while living in Bedford horse country. Many nice horse trails, but terrible country roads. Needless to say, it got little use for eight years.
What happened then? After divorcing two years ago, I downsized to Pleasantville. My only auto I gave to my daughter in Maryland to commute to nursing school in DC. I hope never to purchase a car again.

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Lewis Pasquin
President Justin Lewis Asset Management

Mode of Transportation: 2004 Porsche GT3
From: White Plains To: Mamaroneck

Why a Porsche? Because you can also use them on the track. They’re made strong. When you see how fancy these cars are, especially the GT3—the way mine is set up—you get into a very addictive mindset. I just came back from Toronto. I drove the car all the way there—five hundred miles there, then two days on the track, eight hours a day.
How did you get interested in Porsches? Since I was a kid, Porsche lines have always intrigued me. I got divorced about five years ago, and I finally started buying Porsches.
How long is your commute? My commute’s pretty short. It’s only like five miles. Talk about your GT3. The GT that I own is a 911 Carrera with the racing model. The GT3 has a thoroughbred motor that is more resilient than other 911 Porsches. It can go to 8,200 RPM—no one’s higher—and the temperature gauge doesn’t even move. It’s amazing.
You bought it new? No. I bought it used and modified it with a better suspension than you get out of the factory, so it handles much better than a normal car.
Have you had any speeding tickets? I’ve talked my way out of a lot of them. Coming home from Toronto, there were four different speed traps so I had to go much slower. These cars fly!
How much does a Porsche’s upkeep set you back each year? It all depends on what you’re going to do with the Porsche. There are guys who just like to look at it like a museum piece and they garage it, and only drive it here and there, so they really don’t need that much maintenance. My car is raced. I take it to the track all the time, so I’m going through tires quickly, oil changes—an oil change in that car is a hundred ten dollars—annually, I would say between five hundred and a thousand dollars.
Is the Porsche good for business? Absolutely. It’s a great conversation piece. Wherever you go, people want to get involved with it. You don’t see a lot of cars like that out there, and mine is pretty vicious, the way it’s set up. It’s fun.

Lewis Liebert
President and CEO Performance Flight

Mode of Transportation: Cirrus SR 22 airplane
From: New Rochelle To: Westchester County Airport

Why a Cirrus? It’s a more luxurious aircraft and faster, but it also has better safety features than any other single-engine piston aircraft on the market.
Did you learn to fly on a Cirrus? I did. When I started the school, I did not know how to fly, which is kind of unusual! But I learned to fly when I opened the school. I was our first student. You want to learn in the plane you’re going to fly.
What possessed you to take up flying? I had left publishing and had gone into television production. My contract was coming up, and I didn’t really enjoy what I was doing too much. And I didn’t want to work in New York City any more. I just had a bug to go check out flying one day. I went on a discovery flight.
So why start a school? I learned about the Cirrus, and said ‘That’s the plane I want to fly.’ But there was no one in White Plains who taught on a Cirrus. So I decided to build a flight school around how I wanted to learn to fly.
Where do you usually fly? I fly all over for business. Various companies that I work with, that are sometimes based at other airports, may want to have a meeting out in East Hampton, or in Connecticut. And sometimes there are aviation conferences I go to that are scattered around the country.
How do you live and work differently as a result? The Hamptons are a great example: when I used to go out there before I knew how to fly, a Friday afternoon commute there was a five-hour trip. Now, it’s twenty-six minutes. And I fly to Block Island just for lunch. It’s only a thirty-five to forty-minute flight. There’s a little greasy diner-style restaurant there that’s got good burgers and omelets.

William O’Shaughnessy
President and CEO Whitney Radio, parent of radio stations WVOX (1460 AM) and WVIP (93.5 FM)

Mode of Transportation: 1999 Corvette
From: Manhattan To: New Rochelle

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How long is your commute to work? About twenty-five minutes from Manhattan—and about an hour and a half when I commute from my home in the Litchfield Hills in Connecticut.
Why a Corvette? It’s great fun! I’ve always loved American cars…and the Corvette is the best car for the money on the American road. It has been for twenty years. It’s as good as cars at double the price. Take that, Porsche! You used to ride motorcycles.
Why did you stop? I took a lazy left turn on Route 1 in Mamaroneck, coming out of a gas station. I went over and hit my head on the pavement—I had my helmet on. Then I get a call from Mario Cuomo. He said, ‘Brother Bill, the state police tell me there’s a new pothole on Route 1.’ I said, ‘Are you going to charge me for denting the pavement?’ I gave up the motorcycle. I still wish I could get my arthritic legs over on the other side of a Honda.
What’s the best thing about driving the Corvette? The rocket-like boost you get in your tailbone when you hit the open road.
How hot does it have to get before you lower the top? I go topless in all the seasons of the year. I don’t mind a little cold air.
What kind of responses have you seen when you drive it? I’m seventy-two, so any looks I get are strictly admiring of the vehicle.
Does what people drive say something about them? It used to. Not anymore. You see cool guys driving minivans—and nerds driving Maseratis. Are there certain cars businessmen and businesswomen shouln’t drive?” No. Years ago a ‘Vette’ was thought to be a little flashy and may have sent a wrong signal in well-buttoned-up circles. But not today. It’s okay to feel the wind and God’s good sun.”

MeGan Posey
Global sourcing engineer Curtis Instruments Inc.

Mode of Transportation: BMW R 1200 RT motorcycle
From: Southbury, CT To: Mount Kisco

How long have you had your bike? I’ve had this one almost two years. Before that, I had the 1150 RT, and before that the 1100 RT. RTs are great bikes.
Why? They’re comfortable and ergonomic. You’re not leaning forward in a crouch; you’re just in a normal sitting position. There are no vibrations on the twins—they’re smooth, they’ve got the mix down. You’re protected from the dust, rain, or floating debris that comes flying at you. If you’re cold, you turn the heater up. If you’re wet, you move the windshield up.
What about your hair? I do a ponytail and a few other rubber bands and stuff. I have brushes and stuff at work.
Don’t you get soaked when it rains? The BMW riding suit is pretty water-resistant, but there’s always some amount that goes under your helmet and down your chin.
Do you wear office clothes under your riding suit? No. I wear shorts and a long- sleeved shirt. I carry my office clothes in the tail back.
What do your colleagues make of your commute? They’re kind of cool with it. They’re like, ‘You rode the bike, huh?’ I say, ‘Yeah. Fifty miles per gallon—you bet I did!’
Do you own a car? Yes, a 2005 Chevy SUV.
How long is your ride to work? I live in the boonies—in Southbury, Connecticut—so I have about a forty-five-minute commute in the morning.
Do you ever find solutions to what vexes you in the office while riding? Because of the focus demanded with the morning rush-hour traffic, I don’t. I can’t, because I’ve always got to be on spot. People will zip up behind me, beside me, in front of me. And some of them are telephone talking, putting makeup on, or reading the newspaper.
Were you always a biker? Oh yeah—since the early ‘80s. I even moved to Taiwan for work, and I had a bike there. Then I moved to Korea, but I wouldn’t ride a bike there—too dangerous!

David J. Linn
Managing Member The Galinn Fund, a private equity firm

Mode of Transportation: 2004 Lamborghini Murciélago
From: Irvington To: White Plains

The price for a Lamborghini Murciélago is between $228,000 and $279,900, right? It’s something that makes me uncomfortable talking about.
How great is your commute? It’s quick. It takes me five to ten minutes to get to work.
How did you get interested in Lamborghinis? As a kid, I enjoyed looking at them, reading about them. I used to have their posters. It was always a passion of mine. I think the speed weighed into it, the design also — that very aggressive styling. It’s an exotic sports car, an Italian-made car. It really sort of fit me. It’s less common than a Ferrari, and it felt slightly better. And then, when I was able to buy one, I did. How about the ride? It’s amazing—very powerful and very fast.
Does your wife share your interest in Lamborghinis? She drives a 2008 Mercedes-Benz G wagon.
What kind of response does the car draw from others? You get a lot of people talking, people taking pictures. It will slow them down when they’re by you.
Ever use it on a sales call? Yes. It’s great for the clients. I feel that it has helped business because people are intrigued by it. People certainly want to congregate around you when they see something like that. It’s different. It’s a luxury. People are interested.
Do you have an example of your car actually helping you clinch a sale? No specific examples of a clinch. It lets people know that you’re successful.

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Alex Philippidis is a White Plains journalist and editor who grew up keeping scrapbooks of cars, but now writes about molecular biology research institutes for GenomeWeb LLC in New York City, and about almost anything else for numerous Westchester publications. He owns two Saturns, a 2003 L300 sedan and a 1998 SW2 wagon.

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