25 Years of PARC Group
Experience in Action
By Donna DePaul-Kelly
In 1989, a group of equipment distributors got together and had a vision. They formed an organization to share information about customer solutions that were working across the country, and to provide leverage as a unified distributors group.
Now celebrating 25 years as a network of independent companies, PARC Group has evolved into one of the leading networks of systems integrators in the parking industry, and an influential group that
helps drive the standards for the entire industry.
“We were a group of people who were, for the most part, very young in a very young industry,” said Vinny Cloutier, President of Wescor Parking Controls in Massachusetts and a Founding Member of PARC Group Systems Integrators.
“I had a lot of questions and a desire to know everything, and had no place to turn,” Cloutier said. “So we formed this group to help one another.
“It was incredible the amount of information you could learn when you listen to a lot of people in ownership positions, then you take a piece of this and a piece of that, and boom, you’ve solved your problems.
“When you’re learning only from your own experience, you won’t gain that much knowledge,” Cloutier said.
And PARC Group quickly became invaluable for influencing manufacturers across the country.
“The problem with some manufacturers is that they don’t understand exactly what is happening in the field with the customer,” said William Bernatovich Sr., former owner of Ber-National Security in New York and also a Founding Member.
“PARC Group helped crystallize that customer perspective,” he said. “The individual distributor cannot influence, but a group of distributors can tell a manufacturer the way things really are, what is happening with their product.”
“I like to say we were like the ‘Three Musketeers,’” said Mike Givens, President of ITR of Georgia and also a Founding Member of PARC Group. “‘All for one, one for all’ is our motto. It has always been about sharing ideas, information and solutions.”
Richard N. Best, President of Richard N. Best Associates in Pennsylvania, said he felt that being a part of the “new” organization was the right thing to do.
“One of the first things was that we had to get a hold of the fact that we’re not competitors,” Best said. “We serve different regions, so we could talk freely and help one another.”
Larry Wanat, a Regional Sales Manager of DoorKing Inc. based in California, served as the organization’s first president. “It was an honor to serve this group,” Wanat said. “I was the common thread for the group, as a former Federal APD employee, so when it came time to select a leader, it made sense for me to step up to the plate. I tried to be a conduit to forging new ground.”
Through the years, member companies have diversified into multi-line dealerships and complete systems integrators, and offer state-of-the-art technology that is versatile to serve the specialized needs of a variety of industries.
Tim Breuning, Owner and President of Light & Breuning in Indiana, said he joined PARC Group in 1997 to expand his knowledge and have access to more products and solutions to meet customer requests.
“If I could describe the group and the impact it’s had on the industry, in just a few words, those words would be professionalism, integrity and cost-effective solutions,” Breuning said. “The group gives each member a unique competitive advantage that they share with each and every one of their customers.”
“The group comprises highly professional members from successful companies,” said Jerry Herndon, Owner and President of Southern Time Equipment in North Carolina, and also a Founding Member of PARC Group. “We all strive for the same thing, which is to give the customer the very best experience for their dollar. We are adding value to our products.”
Members attend two annual two-day meetings where they can speak face-to-face, invite speakers and new-product demonstrators, and discuss relevant topics at roundtable sessions.
“My No. 1 reason for staying an active member of this organization for 25 years,” Cloutier said, “is that I have learned something at every meeting. I’ll bring back a different way to do something or a piece of information that I didn’t know before I went. Not to mention the friendships – great friendships.”
The industry certainly has evolved since PARC Group was first established 25 years ago. Technology has enabled easier and more efficient levels of sharing information among members. The organization has an online members-only forum where they share news, product information, success stories and project photographs.
“PARC Group is evolving as the challenges of our industry increase,” Givens said, “[with] items such as new PARCS solutions, web-based service, networking technology and advanced software operating systems. ... The value of the group is that we always leave a meeting with two or three ideas to implement and with new solutions to our joint challenges.
“After 25 years, [members] have become stronger, more mature companies. Being able to share these solutions from practical experience makes all of our companies better,” Givens said.
While customer solutions have changed to remain state-of-the-art, PARC Group, at its core, still has the same purpose, Breuning said.
“We are an extremely dedicated group of companies,” he added, “that bring value to all of our customers by using shared knowledge and experiences – to help clients save money and run their facilities in a more profitable manner.”
The organization’s original companies and members are “still in place as the core of PARC Group,” Wanat said.
“We had 100% attendance at our mid-year meeting in 2013. That goes to show you how strong the group still is today. As other groups have come and gone, PARC Group is the one shining star that has continued over so many years.”
For more information, visit the PARC Group website at
www.parcgroup.com. Contact Donna DePaul-Kelly, with BizzBuzz Marketing, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article Abstract from January, 2014