There is Hope - plus New Jersey, Maryland, DC, and the IPI
There is still hope for the human race. I attended a concert the other Sunday. My son was up for outstanding music teacher of the county. (Didn't get it, but he said the one who did deserved it.) The concert featured young musicians from Ventura County, just north of Los Angeles.
There were seven young Americans, of every race and both genders. The program ranged from an 8-year-old prodigy playing a Mendelssohn concerto to a 15-year-old cellist holding forth on Tchaikovsky. The old man of the group was a 20-year-old baritone singing Donizetti. Oh, yes, there was the 18-year-old violinist who had won her first competition at the age of 5.
I was a bit unnerved when I read that the 8-year-old was attending the local college (with a 4.0 GPA, of course), had played the lead role in "Romeo and Juliet" and was an avid chess player. Sigh - I did feel that he must have some childhood because where the other musicians received a single rose when they finished their pieces, he got a toy fire truck.
What impressed me most about these kids wasn't that they were great, but that they were from a relatively small area of our country. Ventura County (where I grew up) is not New York, San Francisco or Chicago. It's just a small-town area with orange ranches and truck farms an hour or so north of L.A.
That means that if such talented young people exist there, they exist everywhere. These musicians are super but not unique, and that's the best part. Such concerts take place all across our country.
If this is what we can expect from American Youth, and I believe it is, we have little to worry about. Our future is secure.
My travels this month took me to the frigid East Coast. While L.A. was drying out from the wettest month in history, the Northeast was taking the brunt of a winter storm that left snow 4 feet high on the roadsides. I arrived in New Jersey two days after the snow had stopped.
My visit took me to the Pit Bull/PayLock offices of Patrick Monyihan and Cory Marchasin. President Patrick joked that COO Cory had the larger office: "He has the pressure to perform, so he deserves the nicer digs." Good call, Patrick. These two are running a company that has a great high-tech gizmo that allows cities to find scofflaws, boot the cars, and then let the offenders themselves remove the boot after paying their back fees over a cell phone using a credit card. It's in use in a couple of cities. Read about it in future issues of PT.
Ken Greenwood, marketing guru of Parkeon, walked me through the P-and-D manufacturer's operations in Moorestown, NJ. The Paris-based company keeps him hopping, with semi-monthly trips to France. Ken hails from the UK, and finds the winters in New Jersey much harsher that the mellow Januarys of Surry or Kent.
I was very impressed with the guidance systems installed by Signal-Park USA at Baltimore/Washington International Airport. We did an article on the project in February's PT, but it's great to see the place in person. Not only do you know how many spaces are on each floor, you also know which aisle has space. And as you look down the aisle, you see the free space denoted by a green light above it. Makes for super customer service and, just as important, speed in getting parkers in the garage and, according to airport managers, to their planes on time. Farrell Barrett at Phoenix-based Signal-Park tells me the company has additional installations in Florida and Texas.
Baltimore also brought a brief meeting with Peter Little, head of the Baltimore Parking Authority. Though new on the job, he seems a good fit. Peter and his operations manager, Pete Collier were excited to hear about the upcoming Intertraffic/PIE show to be held in their city in September. They offered to give tours of their pay-on-foot operations and newly installed pay-and-display on-street equipment. That, in addition to the Oriole/Yankee/Red Sox games scheduled for the same days, should be a great draw for the show.
The highlight of my trip was a two-hour interview with the new Executive Director of the IPI, Kim Jackson. She's a dynamo; she is constantly moving and thinking. Her background, both at the IPI and as a parking manager at Rutgers, made her the perfect choice for the job. The IPI board got this one right. A hands-on manager, Kim also has a vision for the future of her organization. Read all about it elsewhere in this issue of PT.
Next month takes me again to Canada, but this time to Toronto and its environs. I'm told that the weather will be wonderful, with the mid-winter thaw well underway before my arrival. What I go through for the readers of this meager column.