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@Work: Sun and Sand Car Rental

April 7, 2005 – Sun and Sand Car Rental is a family affair. James Dalmida, his wife, Anna, and daughter, Jennifer, all keep this busy car rental agency going.
Customer service is the number one priority.
"We always try to make guests feel comfortable. It's not all about money," Anna Dalmida said.
She said the customer care extends to not charging customers when they leave sand in the car, although other car rental agencies often impose a fee.
Anna said she likes her job because she likes working with people.
"You get different experiences," she said.
And she said she's not above pitching in to clean cars when her daughter or the other two employees are busy.
The Dalmidas opened the business in 1984 as Dalmida by the Sea Car Rental.
"We opened it after people started complaining about the way they were treated by other car rentals," James said.
After Dalmida by the Sea, the company became an Avis franchise, then Sun and Sand.
The Dalmidas face numerous challenges. For starters, James said dishonest people make life miserable. He said he occasionally meets customers who tell their credit card company they haven't rented from Sun and Sand. Or they'll use the wife's credit card but rent in the husband's name, for example, as a way to claim they haven't rented from Sun and Sand.
"They know how to work the system," he said.
When this happens, the Dalmidas face a mountain of paperwork to resolve the issue.
James Dalmida said getting parts to repair the vehicles also pose challenges.
Sun and Fun's biggest problem at the moment may be Police Department's regulations that allow them to have only 35 cars. This means they often have to disappoint customers.
The company's greatest logistical challenge is the two lone parking spaces in front of their tiny rental agency building. The property is wedged between two other car rental companies on a strip of land along the road that runs into Cruz Bay from the Boulon Center. The rental agencies are all at the North Shore Road intersection, often the busiest spot in Cruz Bay.
Because the company has so few parking spaces, the Dalmidas keep cars at a parking lot off Route 108, and at Caneel Bay Resort. "I have an agreement with Caneel to provide rental cars," James said.
He is also Caneel Bay's room manager, the number three slot at the popular resort.
James has always held down other jobs while running the car rental agency. He long ago worked at Caneel Bay, and over the years, did some construction, was a commercial fisherman, and served as St. John administrator.
He was born 54 years ago at what was then called St. Thomas Hospital, but grew up on St. John. He left to get a bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. While there, he met Anna, and the two returned to St. John.
They have five children. Jennifer, who works with Anna at Sun and Fun, is 22, Jessica is 15, Joanna, 13, Jeanile, 11, and Juliana, 9. James also has three children from a previous relationship. They are Jamie, 28, Jana, 26, and Joanie, 24.
"All Js," James said, chuckling as he flipped open his cell phone to take another call.

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