Driving for Vietnam

Sterling-based Reston Limousine Service Inc., which calls itself the largest luxury transportation service in Virginia, stepped out onto the world stage this summer when it landed a short-term contract with the government of Vietnam.

The occasion was the first visit by a top Vietnamese Communist leader to the United States. Reston Limousine transported more than 200 people in Prime Minister Phan Van Khai's delegation.

Kristina Bouweiri, Reston Limousine's chief executive, said the assignment entailed the highest level of security the company had ever encountered.

She said the embassy insisted, for example, on hand-picking the drivers that Reston Limousine would use.

"It appeared that part of the security criteria was that drivers could not have been born at the time of the Vietnam War," she said in a news release that described the assignment.

The company transported the delegation from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, near the White House, in seven buses, four sedans and four vans. Two luggage trucks also were used.

"There were many VIP sightings at the Willard that week," Bouweiri said. "John McCain, John Kerry and many others visited the prime minister of Vietnam."

Reston Limousine drove the group around the Washington area (even to a winery), then to New York and Boston. The company said the embassy was pleased with its services and promised more business in the future.

Bits and pieces:

* Middleburg Bank has named Todd Braithwaite vice president of information technology. He joined the bank in 2000 as a network administrator. The bank's parent, Middleburg Financial Corp., recently was given a neutral rating by SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Jennifer Demba, who wrote: "While we continue to favor [the company] as a solid long-term holding, we are unable to assign [it] our highest investment rating, given we believe a liability-sensitive balance sheet and more aggressive branch expansion plans will restrain year-over-year" earnings. The company opened a financial service center in Reston last November and a loan production office in Virginia Beach in April. It plans to open another financial service center in Warrenton in the fourth quarter this year.

* Dulles-based low-fare airline Independence Air is partnering with the Laugh Factory comedy clubs to offer some laughs -- at least, it hopes they are laughs -- on its transcontinental flights. The comedy bits will appear on the airline's digEplayer in-flight entertainment system, which passengers can use for $10 per flight. Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada said the deal provides some of its regular comics "with a new venue for their material at 37,000 feet above America." Other digEplayer offerings this week include the movies "Million Dollar Baby" and "Phantom of the Opera" and the TV shows "Friends," "The X-Files" and "The Simpsons."

* The Washington Airports Task Force announced Monday that Monte R. Belger, a former high-ranking administrator at the Federal Aviation Administration, has joined the group. Belger is a vice president at Lockheed Martin Transportation and Security Solutions. The Dulles-based task force consists of business and civic leaders who promote the expansion and enhancement of aviation services in the Washington region. "We got to know Monte when he was deputy administrator at the FAA and we are cognizant of the decisive role he played on 9/11," said task force chairman Stanley E. Harrison, dean emeritus of the Harry F. Byrd Jr. School of Business at Shenandoah University in Winchester.

* Verizon Wireless said it has beefed up its network to handle additional call volume around the Washington Redskins' training camp in Ashburn. The camp opened Monday.


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