Stardust Limousine observing 20th year
By Mark Sherry
Mike Hartmann of Stardust Limousine helps Noelle Allison into one of his limousines for a special occasion.

Stardust Limousine is in its 20th year of safely and comfortably transporting people to destinations throughout Wisconsin.

Whether it is taking a newly married couple from the church to the reception, taking girlfriends to the prom, or getting a businessperson to the airport on time, Mike Hartmann and his crew of drivers have done it.

Hartmann said he and a partner started the business in 1992 primarily in the Manitowoc area as the community was only being served by one other limousine service at the time and there were more industries there requiring more trips to state airports.

Hartmann and his partner had to come up with the money on their own to purchase a used Lincoln Town Car and have it stretched into a limousine. “The banks didn’t want anything to do with us,” Hartmann said.

Busy right from start

The men were right about the need for another limousine service in the Manitowoc area as Hartmann said there were times when the vehicle ran three or four days in a row without the engine ever cooling off. They would often get done with a late night function just in time to pick up a businessperson in the early hours of the morning to head for the airport in Milwaukee.

Hartmann said there were also people who would book the limousine just to do something unusual. “Initially it was a novelty,” he said.

After he bought out his partner’s interest in the business and moved closer to Kiel, the novelty of seeing limousines driving around the area continued. Hartmann said, “When we first started people snapped their necks when they saw our limo going down main street. People had never seen a limo in Kiel at that time. Our first booking came from an advertisement we placed on the community cable channel.”

While some of that novelty remains and probably always will, it has also diminished somewhat as most people have ridden in a limousine at some point. Stardust Limousine continues where others have faded away “due to great customer service with return customers, reliable service and vehicles,” Hartmann said.

Like most businesses, Stardust Limousine has had to change with the times— including in what types of vehicles it offers its customers. “It’s really been evolving,” he said. “The limos used to be really, really hot.” Stardust Limousine currently has two traditional 10-passenger limousines which it uses for weddings, proms, dinner trips, etc. But it also has a Lincoln Town Car sedan and a limousine sport utility vehicle which it uses to transport people to all Wisconsin airports. Those vehicles are also used for business clients.

Stardust Limousine also has a 14-passenger limo bus and 14-passenger stretch SUV which are used for the same trips as the traditional limousines but hold larger groups. “You need a combination of everything,” Hartmann said, adding that he probably had the first limo bus in a 50-mile radius of Kiel.

In addition to the uses already cited, Stardust Limousine’s services are used for everything from bar hopping to attending sporting events and concerts, or as a surprise for a person’s significant other on a special night out.

Stardust Limousine does not transport out of the state but Hartmann said he does have contacts to arrange such travel, including to Chicago’s airports.

Part-time driving crew

Hartmann does not do much driving himself anymore for the business as he has a crew of seven or eight part-time drivers. Their primary destinations are in the area between Milwaukee and Green Bay, and from Oshkosh to Lake Michigan.

Every passenger is important to Stardust Limousine, but some of them are just a little better known. Charlton Heston, Brett Favre and the Monkees have been passengers in Stardust’s vehicles in the past.

To celebrate his 20th anniversary, Hartmann is offering a 20 percent discount during March on all new limousine bookings used during the month.

A contest also is being held via its Web site (www.stardustlimousine.com)with the winner getting a three-hour trip for up to eight people and a $20 gift certificate to an area supper club, plus three additional $20 gift certificates to other area supper clubs. Participating supper clubs are Jim & Linda’s in Pipe, the Altona Supper Club in New Holstein, Roepke’s in Charlesburg, and Braun’s Ranch in Elkhart Lake.

The success of Stardust Limousines helped Hartmann also build The Laundromat in New Holstein in 1997, and he said he takes as much pride in maintaining that business as he does his limousines. The Laundromat’s newer model machines are cleaned nightly. “If they break down we repair them right away,” he said.

The Laundromat is open from 6 a. m. to midnight every day of the year. Doors are on an automatic locking system.

For more information about either Stardust Limousine or The Laundromat, call 894-7573 or check out the Web site.