PT Web Interview
In the Zone with Mark Curtis
A quick e-mail interview with Mark Curtis, owner and founder of Pacific Cascade and the Parking Zone, its online alter ego. His company is one of the "general stores" of the industry, providing many of the products we use daily in our parking businesses but have difficulty finding elsewhere. Mark lives in Vancouver, WA.
Why did you found Pacific Cascade/Parking Zone?
I started the Parking Zone in response to the parking marketplace demand. Before our launch in 1996, customers were constantly asking us for a catalog of our products. We had been known as a company that finds things for customers, and the Parking Zone was the logical progression in the evolution of our company. With the Internet revolution, we have seen a fantastic growth in our online e-commerce ParkingZone.com retail business.
On what do you base your success?
The Parking Zone is successful because we offer customers a one-stop solution for all of their parking supply needs. We have researched thousands of products over the years and compiled them into one easy resource. Where we found a void, we have developed products to fill those industry needs, such as the Gorilla Post system, an extended-length gate arm, the envelope drop box and even the new ParkingZone.com board game.
Over the years, I have enjoyed reviewing customer orders and have marveled at the diversity of orders. Usually I can say, "Oh, this customer is opening a valet location" or "It looks like that customer is starting up an event lot."
What was your background before PC?
Before Pacific Cascade I worked as a City General Manager for a national parking company. Managing a parking company helped to give me a perspective of parking customers' needs.
How do you select the products you put on your web site/catalog?
We listen to our customer requests and needs. Initially, products usually will go on our web site first and, if successful, will migrate to our catalog. Though we are producing catalogs multiple times each year, it is still much easier to test products on the e-commerce Parkingzone.com web site.
You seem to have products you like (that are fun) such as Gorilla Post.
Honestly, the parking business is a fun and exciting business to be in. We like to convey that playful side in our catalogs and brands. Gorilla Post sounds a lot better and is more fun than super magnet post, don't you agree? And, though I personally don't pick all of the products that the Parking Zone offers, it's fair to say that you can see my fingerprints on several of them. We have now developed a board game that is geared toward the parking and traffic control industry where you can become a "Parking Tycoon." How fun is that?
You are also an installing dealer; tell us about that.
We have had an automated equipment division of our company since 1989 that provides complete turn-key revenue control solutions. I really enjoy this segment of the parking business. It helps to keep me connected to the technology and advancements in our industry. In working with airports, municipalities and larger private parking structures, we bring to the partnership our expertise in products, data processing and revenue control. We enjoy being on the cutting edge of technology deployment.
What is the most popular product you sell?
By far our most popular product is the Gorilla Post. We sell thousands of them each year. This keeps Gordo, our spokesprimate, very busy promoting the product.
What product is the most obscure (chalk, graffiti remover, etc.)?
The most obscure product that we currently offer is probably those bright-colored polycarbonate water bottles. One of our team members suggested that we carry them, and they sell like crazy. Go figure!
Where do you go from here?
My job as CEO of this company is to build our brands and innovate. We have several product initiatives in the works that we're really excited about, so stay tuned!
Article Abstract from May, 2005