point of view
POF in 2005, the Price of Gas, and Forrest the Wonderdog
John Van Horn
I have been visiting manufacturers of both on-street and off-street parking-control equipment and have found them to be a most optimistic bunch. Having come off a great fourth quarter in 2004, they are projecting 2005 to be a very good year for their breed.
To add to that optimism, check out an article in this month's PT on pay-on-foot. The technology that has taken so long to be accepted in the U.S. is definitely now on the front lines. Jeff Miller, an Ampco System Parking District Manager, reports that in his L.A. area alone (half of Southern California) 18 pay-on-foot systems are either ordered, being installed or in the process of being ordered. If you extrapolate that out to the rest of the commercial operators and spread it across the country, POF is due for a banner year.
In addition, PT did a quick survey to find if gas price increases had affected parking activity. You can get the details elsewhere in this issue. However, many of those reporting said that not only had their business NOT been affected, but their traffic was up considerably over a year ago.
You might want to consider these tidbits simply anecdotal evidence of an industry taking off. However, my experience is that when you sample folks in the Northwest, the Southwest, the Plains states and the Northeast, and all of the people you talk to are optimistic, there must be some validity to your opinion.
Speaking of gas prices -- PT's survey did bring a comment from Donna Hultine at the University of Kansas. She picked up a list of how much things cost by the gallon. It makes gasoline sound pretty cheap. Particularly when you consider what one has to go through to take it out of the earth, bring it to a refinery, crack the molecules and reformulate it into gasoline, and get it to the customer. Compare that with designer water. The list is elsewhere in this month's PT.
Donna, whose source has been around the Internet for a while, notes that the next time you're at the pump, be glad your car doesn't run on water, Scope, Wite-Out or, God forbid, Pepto Bismol or Nyquil.
I attended the T2 Systems users conference in San Diego in November. What an incredible meeting. Mike Simmons and his crew did a fantastic job. Take note, parking vendors. We need more of this from you in our industry.
The four-day event was training, familiarization, new product introduction and fun. Simmons' wife, Liz, who is president of her training and motivation company, added team-building and innovation to the event. The attendees won't forget that conference anytime soon.
Plus, Mike gets his customers to pay to attend. (And it's worth every penny.)
To set the record straight, correspondent John "Yur magazeene is grate" Clancy notes that he worked for Apcoa from 1986 to 1996. He said he just looks and feels as if he had been doing it since the 1970s. Since 1996, he has been creating motion-control, point-of-sale and Web-based systems for the restaurant, transportation and, most recently, online banking industries.
My travels in November took me to Canada. I met with equipment and software manufacturers in Vancouver and Calgary. Vancouver has a "pocket" of parking companies, including Digital Payment Technologies, Lexis, Epic Data, Dominion Self Park and Verrus.
I was taken with the morning I spent with Neil Podmore at Verrus. The pay-by-cell phone company has an open-space office in downtown Vancouver. It's like entering a friend's living room, with sofas and coffee tables inviting the visitor to become immediately comfortable. As seen in the picture nearby, one unique member of the company's staff is Forrest, who welcomes newcomers and, if asked, will even bring over his favorite toy for inspection and a possible tug or two. You can figure out which one is Neil.
Revenue control is the featured topic in my favorite magazine this month. You will note that the articles focus on software and so-called cutting-edge technology. Being the Luddite that I am, I do suggest that you read "the article by the dog," as some of our readers call "PT the Auditor." All the software in the world won't replace a good, hands-on audit.
Article Abstract from January, 2005