Do people worth hundreds of millions of dollars (and more) order taxis?
They could, but it’s more likely they’ll use a “driver-based security service” – like the one run by Nathan Foy, called Forts. He is the author of ‘What rich clients want (but won’t tell you))’ and knows a thing or two about how the super-rich like to get from A to B.
His job is to get them to B without getting kidnapped or robbed – and his company uses a variety of eye-catching special ops-style techniques to ensure their safety, including decoy cars, armored vehicles, and the employment of military veterans.
Nathan Foy, author of What Rich Clients Want (But Won’t Tell You) and founder of Fortis, which drives high net worth individuals
He told MailOnline Travel that the ‘bread and butter’ of what Fortis does is ‘Chauffeur driven cars and security… for customers worth $600m (£492m) or more and who own one or more private jets”.
“The world’s most discerning travelers,” he added.
And it can drive customers all over the world.
I explained that while Fortis is headquartered in South Carolina (with an office opening in Nevada in September), it also has offices in Hong Kong and India – “that’s about 25,000 trips a year and about 1,000 cities”.
The goal, Foy said, is not to “fight back” but to “protect and evacuate”. And one of the main tactical assets deployed by Fortis to do this is the “hunting car”, which could be a simple decoy car – to confuse potential bad guys – or could be a second driver in place for convenience, to mop up shopping and the like. Foy said: “After all, if your partner left something at the hotel or someone has to pick something up, it will literally ruin your day.”
It is also a show of force.
Foy said criminals tend to mess with a convoy less because it’s “not as easy to target”.
He continued, “The chase car is especially useful in Mexico and Central and South American countries.
Fortis headquarters in South Carolina. One of the main tactical assets deployed by Fortis is the “hunting car”, which could be a decoy car to confuse potential kidnappers
Foy reveals insight into the world of the wealthy in his book
“We had a director [client]who was trying to get from rural Mexico to the Mexico City airport and wanted to arrive at six in the morning in a Mercedes S-Class.
“We told him, and he’s a person who has a huge security department in New York, where he’s based, we said, ‘You’re a target for drug lords if you try to move two or three in the morning with an S-Class in rural Mexico. Could you go during the day or fly out later in the morning? And he said, “No, no, that’s what I want to do.” So we said the only option was a chase car.
“Everything went well and I got out the way I wanted.”
Fortis also deploys chase cars that mirror the movements of a superyacht from shore.
Foy said: “So if the manager decides he wants to go shopping, or there’s a medical need or whatever, there’s a quick way, either with a tender or with a helicopter, to get into a vehicle.”
The special forces guys in some places are really good. If you’re going to Honduras you need these guys
Nathan Foy, founder of Fortis
And what kind of people does Foy employ – are they all ex-Special Forces?
Foy explained: “We have a lot of veterans, but the majority are people who are really good at service and interested in hospitality. I prefer to have someone who is passionate about service – the raw material that we can shape. Specialists often don’t see the forest for the trees.
“The special forces guys in some places are really good. If you go to Honduras you need these guys, but most of the time they are so sensitive to high risk environments…if you put them in Oklahoma, say, they get bored. It’s like putting a tiger in a cage.
Fortis also provides a way to communicate securely, explaining that customers attending the World Cup in Russia in 2018 were given ‘phones to burn’ because ‘in Russia there is no data security’ .
These devices, Foy revealed, were equipped with an add-on called “Beartooth”. This turned the phones into a walkie-talkie, ensuring customers could communicate with the driver and the people they were traveling with in the event of a loss of signal caused by thousands of people uploading photos in the stadium etc.
Fancy a ride with Fortis? “That’s a lot,” Foy revealed, starting at around $500 (£410) for a transfer in an SUV or S-Class.
It’s a little more than Forts used to charge when Foy founded it in 2000 as a prepaid taxi service for students on America’s East Coast.
“We’ve refined it for 22 years to make it a premium service,” Foy added. Now it’s a “travel security” company that’s “like a bespoke Italian suit, but lined with Kevlar.”