Melissa Thornton, CEO

Melissa Thornton

As chief executive officer of a world-class luxury transportation service, Melissa Thornton is on a fast track to success.

Melissa was introduced to the transportation industry at an early age. Her parents, Douglas and Chris Thornton, were the owners of Biltom Tours, a charter bus service they founded in 1978. Following Mr. Thornton's passing in 1994, with Mrs. Thornton at the helm, the business continued to grow, evolving into a worldwide network with more than 550 affiliate providers. Incorporated as DLC Ground Transportation Inc., the company operates today as DLC Ground Transportation Services (DLC) and LSW Chauffeured Transportation (LSW).

Although Melissa worked part-time in the family business as a driver and dispatcher while attending college, she didn’t foresee a career in transportation. Instead, she graduated from Pace University with a BBA in Management Information Systems and spent the next 12 years working for such Fortune 500 companies as Phillip Morris, Pfizer Pharmaceutical, and Barclays Capital.

As Chris Thornton juggled the increasing demands of her business, she began to look toward retirement, and in 2008, Melissa joined the company as chief operating officer. Initially motivated by a desire to help her mother, Melissa soon realized she was uniquely positioned to explore the opportunities and meet the challenges of a growing enterprise in a rapidly changing world. Over the next four years the torch of leadership passed from mother to daughter, and in 2012 Melissa took the reins as chief executive officer.

Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and passion for excellence, Melissa embraced her parents’ time-honored values of service, professionalism and reliability—the foundation of the company’s success. At the same time, her real-world experience and first-hand knowledge of the needs of corporate travelers proved invaluable in developing the business and building customer loyalty. She invested in a first-class fleet, cutting-edge technologies, and ongoing staff development to establish LSW as an industry leader.

In short, Melissa held nothing back. Undaunted by the long hours and demands of her role, she infused the company with new energy. As a certified woman-owned, minority-owned business, LSW is one of the first of its kind in Westchester County.

In 2009, Melissa was awarded the “40 Rising Stars under 40” award which is modeled after the national recognition program “Forty under Forty” and pays tribute to Westchester, New York professionals who have achieved outstanding success before the age of 40. The competition recognizes individuals who exemplify leadership, foresight and a vision for the future of Westchester County.

In 2012 Melissa was awarded a Dorothy B. Brothers Executive Scholarship from the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) to attend the Tuck-WBENC Executive Program, an intensive week long executive learning experience for women entrepreneurs. The experience gave Melissa a fresh approach to leadership and new tools to empower her employees.

Melissa is a charter member of Women on the Move (WOTM). WOTM is a network of women executives who meet quarterly to conduct round table discussions sharing best practices on specific topics that have a direct effect on women in the ground transportation industry.

  • Chris Thornton, Founder and President
    • Chris Thornton
      In 1978, Chris Thornton launched a fledgling transportation service from her home. Her original “fleet,” consisting of one bus, expanded over time to include limousines, and in 1981 Chris entered into a contract with Westchester County Airport to provide ground transportation services for arriving passengers.

      As a woman business owner in the ground transportation industry, Chris was a pioneer. Her leadership and vision fostered the successful business LSW is today, with a diverse fleet, three locations, and more than 50 employees. In 2011, Chris transferred LSW’s leadership to the current CEO, her daughter, Melissa Thornton, but she remains active in the business in a multi-faceted role, and the company continues to grow as a result of her expertise and wise counsel.
  • Jerry Fitzmaurice, General Manager
    • Jerry FItzmaurice
      As General Manager, Jerry Fitzmaurice oversees LSW Chauffeured Transportation’s operations, including scheduling and training of dispatchers and drivers, as well as fleet maintenance. In his over 25 years with the company, Jerry has witnessed a great deal of change and growth. He loves taking an active role in the company’s success by proposing and implementing new initiatives to increase efficiency and improve customer service.

      But the very best thing about his job, according to Jerry, is interacting with customers and coworkers, who know him to be extremely reliable. After work, Jerry unwinds by playing basketball and spending time with his family.
  • Ayisha Garraway, Director of Finance
    • Ayisha Garraway
      Ayisha Garraway started out with LSW Chauffeured Transportation as a reservationist and also served as a dispatcher before being promoted to Director of Finance. Primarily responsible for accounting, human resources administration, and payroll, Ayisha is a versatile team player, lending a hand in other areas as needed.

      For Ayisha, job satisfaction comes from witnessing the company’s growth over the years and knowing that she has played a vital part in that success. She holds two Associate degrees from The College of Westchester, where she was a member of Phi Theta Kappa. In her spare time, Ayisha is an avid reader.

  • Marcelo Andres Giano, Dispatcher
    • Marcelo Giano
      In his role as dispatcher, Marcelo Andres Giano is constantly on high alert. When schedule changes and other challenges arise, Marcelo responds quickly and decisively to minimize the inconvenience to his customers and ensure their comfort.

      A true professional and team player, Marcelo understands that a delayed flight or unexpected storm can wreak havoc in a traveler’s day. Although he can’t control the weather, Marcelo is always available to assist customers by booking hotel reservations or relaying a message to family or coworkers.