CNNfn TV/Market Call - Universal Express
Below find the text of Richard's interview on CNN March 4.












THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

RHONDA SCHAFFLER, CNNfn ANCHOR, MARKET CALL: As the nation's airports begin the changeover federal security employees and new regulations take effect many travelers are facing longer lines and more delays, especially if they have luggage.

Our "Maverick of the Morning" is hoping one of its new services will ease that stress.

Richard Altomare is CEO of UniversalExpress , the parent company of Virtual Bellhop.

Thanks for joining us as our "Maverick."

RICHARD ALTOMARE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, UNIVERSAL EXPRESS: Thank you for having me.

SCHAFFLER: Virtual Bellhop is an interesting concept. Basically, I'm going to the airport, I don't want to drag anything with me. I call you guys, the luggage gets there before I do. How does it work?

ALTOMARE: Well, the luggage gets to your end destination before you do. The luggage is picked up at your home and from your home it is taken on one of our cargo planes to your end destination.

JIM WAGGONER, CNNfn GUEST HOST, MARKET CALL: Richard, if I were considering a - let's say, Federal Express , how would you convince me to use your service? I know it's much more convenient. But if I'm price sensitive, as many travelers are these days, why would I want to choose one over the other?

ALTOMARE: Well, if you were price sensitive, you would choose us because we are, shall we say, less expensive than the major carriers because of the volumes that we do and our ability to farm out the business to the many carriers and to more that will be announced in the very near future.

SCHAFFLER: I would assume primarily the business traveler is most interested in the service because of price?

ALTOMARE: Well, you know, I would have thought so, too.

However, what does seem to occur is the travelers that are going on vacation, the husbands, the poor husbands that are being subjected to many more suitcases than are needed, tend to figure that in the cost of their vacation, this might be the easiest way for them to travel, luggage free, and for them to be on vacation as well.

WAGGONER: Richard, does your security operation operate in the same way as the typical freight transporter, or are there other precautions you might take considering the difference in package?

ALTOMARE: Jim, that is a great question. And what we do is, yes, it's the exact same as if you were moving it through a Federal Express or UPS because in many cases, we do use those carriers. There's a lot of farming out, of passing back and forth. Our business has increased approximately 40 percent per month since September.

SCHAFFLER: The regulations that you follow, though, are they as stringent as what you would find at the airport?

ALTOMARE: They're probably more stringent. And I think that's because, as you've seen, over the past decade, the number of cargo planes that have been carrying our packages, whatever they maybe, and I think that we have to just accept the fact that suitcases are nothing more than packages with handles. They might seem to us a little more valuable, but in reality, they are predominantly handled the same way.

WAGGONER: I trust you're doing better at your luggage loss experience than the airlines I've been traveling recently?

ALTOMARE: I'm proud to say that our operation of Virtual Bellhop, which is located in Chicago, our headquarters, has not lost a suitcase since its inception almost two years ago.

SCHAFFLER: Is there anything you wouldn't pick up? Let's say I'm traveling with my 12 cats and want to bring them along?

ALTOMARE: Yes, well, I don't think that we could take living creatures. But I think that we pretty much will take anything else you'll offer us.

SCHAFFLER: Anything as long as it's not alive?

ALTOMARE: As long as it's not alive.

WAGGONER: So you've - did you see a falloff in the September 11th period in your business in this area? And how has it come back since that time?

ALTOMARE: Actually, there was no falloff. Once passengers began traveling again, most people did not want to wait on the first security line, you know, and then have to wait on a second security line. So there were many people that were utilizing or investigating our service.

Universal Express has virtual Bell Hoppers, one of its subsidiaries. We hope to be announcing Luggage Express functioning as virtual is now because Luggage Express is going to be utilized through the 8,000 or 9,000 postal stores that we do have in our trade association, which is called the Private Postal Network.

SCHAFFLER: Very quickly, before we say goodbye, your growth prospects for this year and next?

ALTOMARE: Universal Express is one of those companies that has nothing but growth, excitement and growth potential. It has found some niche markets. Our motto is, while other shipping companies simply move boxes, we will continue to think outside of them.

SCHAFFLER: Richard Altomare, hey, thanks you for joining us as our "Maverick."

Appreciate seeing you.