Books, Parking Events and Three Generations of Diamonds
March, 2002Seems author Calvin Trillin has written a book about parking -- well, actually it is about a fellow who takes his car out of the garage, parks it at a meter, fills the meter to the max, and then sits in it reading the paper, thus ticking off the rest of the people cruising by who are looking for a space. Don't know whether the book is any good, but based on the topic, it can't be too bad.
The second thing that drew me to Trillin was a quote from an article about the book. "People switched to white wine," he says. "I stuck with scotch. People switched to marijuana. I stuck with scotch. People switched to Perrier. I stuck with scotch. So now people can point to me sodden in the corner and say, 'There's a man of character.'" How can someone like that write a bad book? I will look for it and may even write a review. Or maybe just stick to scotch.
Oh yes, in 1962 Trillin also published a magazine called "The Beautiful Spot, a Magazine on Parking." He printed one issue before suspending publication. I have sent him a copy of PT care of his publisher. Who knows, he may find our industry fascinating enough to get his creative juices flowing again.
Now to more serious stuff. As you read through PT this month you will find articles on Automated Parking plus my scathing (well maybe luke warm) comments about this little portion of our industry. Is it on the wax or the wane? Like everything else, time will tell.
I was happy to hear from friend and fellow golfer Jeff Fitzwilliams last month. Seems he has successfully installed a fully automated revenue control system at the Atlantic City, NJ, airport. His claim to fame on this one is that, according to him (and who am I to refute a man who plays golf in the snow), it is the only airport in the country that has a fully automated exit plaza. No cashiers at all. None, nada, zip.
He is particularly proud of this installation because his company, he says, is a "little known and smaller parking equipment supplier." Maybe not for long, Jeff. Oh yes, see the article and pictures on page 10.
Parking in Chicago is back in the news -- they are testing Pay and Display for on street parking. A number of machines have been installed, and according to the Tribune, they are doing what they are supposed to -- merchants are seeing a larger turnover, and since they are now using unmarked spaces -- more cars can be parked in the same block. Details elsewhere in PT.
Time to whine a bit again. Take a look at the parking calendar on page 70. Note that between September 23 and November 22 there are 11 (Count 'em, 11!) parking events. Two of the largest, the New Jersey and California regional meetings, are on the same day!
I attended a number of these events last year and frankly, the turnout was a bit on the shy side. But, that perhaps isn't the major issue.
I am also concerned about the vendors who attend, present and pay for these events. They are forced to make hard choices, and can spread their budgets only so far. A solution? I have presented a number on these pages in the past, but judging from the result, I will just go back to the wilderness for a while.
Speaking of parking events, the No. 1 "do" in PT's life is scheduled for the second week in April. (A good 30 days from the nearest other North American event.) The Parking Industry Exhibition will be dynamite this year. There are three major U.S. parking events. The IPI, the NPA and PIE. We have done marketing studies on each of the three. (We called up and asked a few attendees what they thought.)
The IPI got high marks for its fabulous trade show and the networking public sector people get at the event. The NPA was given 9.8's and 9.9's for the private operator contacts one can make.
PIE had three factors in its favor -- high quality seminars, plenty of time to network with vendors and a great price. Trade Show and Conference Director Sandra Watson predicts 500 attendees and a booth count nearing 100. WOW!
Our boot camp (for those new to parking) is going to be spectacular. According to the drill instructors, Top Kick Chuck Cullen is in weekly contact, ensuring they are up to the task and coordinating topics and handouts. It's a first time experiment for us, but already has nearly 50 "recruits."
We have gone outside the industry for the first time this year for a speaker. We are bringing Ron Jasniowski all the way from Elgin, IL, (maybe five miles) to hold forth on ways to help keep our employees motivated. Downward pressure on fees and salaries means that any ideas for keeping our staff are welcome. He comes highly recommend by members of the PT advisory board. Get your registration form in now!
In Seattle the other day, I walked in on Joel Diamond and chatted about his company and its history (there are a few notes from our discussions elsewhere in PT). I was not only impressed with Joel (and his son Jon who is taking over the business), but his 95-year-old father, Josef. The bright, alert, articulate lawyer started the company in 1928 and has been active in it, along with his law practice, ever since. That's nearly 75 years.
He comes into the office daily, dressed a bit more formally than his offspring, and offers advice when it's needed. Check out the picture on page 16. What an inspiring family.
See you in Chicago!
PS -- On the picture above. For the last two months my likeness has included family sheltie Shiloh. 'Nuff of this funny stuff,' says art director Sandie -- let's get a good head shot. Should be easy in LA, right? So I had a few taken. Made me look like ... well you don't want to know. So back to the "old" pic until something better comes along. Woof.