Four Become One
John Van Horn
Over the past year, we have been reading in Parking Today about the consolidation of a number of companies in our industry. Reino, Enforcement Technologies, Citation Management and Duncan have all become the same company.
It seems that Australian financier and managing director of Saltbush Parking Patrick Alloway bought Reino and that was the beginning. However, the history of the transaction goes even further back.
Citation Management was Enforcement Technologies' largest customer. Starting as a collection agency, the company bid on and won the contract to manage citation-processing for the city of Milwaukee in 1998. It needed software and hardware support, and Etec provided the software engines and hardware ticket-writing equipment to do the deal.
The two companies were closely intertwined, and as Citation Management grew and picked up 80 more accounts across the country, Enforcement Technologies grew right along with it. Theirs was definitely a symbiotic relationship.
Reino traces its history to Syd Reinhardt and his wife Nicki in Australia. They brought their pay-by-bay technology from their native South Africa and grew the company down under. Reino came to the U.S. in the name of Patrick Ryan, and he began the arduous task of selling a completely new technology to the giant North American parking market.
Reino attempted to keep pace with the fast-moving technology by partnering with Schweers and their Politesse product from Europe to bring handhelds and online processing to his company. That partnership didn't succeed, but the unique-looking Reino multi-bay meter was having some success in the U.S.
Looking to spend more time with his surfboard, Reinhardt sold his company to Saltbush in 2004. The new group then purchased Enforcement Technologies, who was a player at the time in Australia and headed to Milwaukee to meet with its largest customer, Citation Management. Citation realized it had a handsome suitor, and the merger of the two companies was set in October 2005.
At almost the same time, Saltbush felt one more acquisition would complete its "soup to nuts" product line. Duncan's owner, Dover Corp., had let it be known that the company was for sale. It seemed like a match and the integrated on-street company that was Reino, Etec, Citation Management and Duncan was born.
When I met with Gary Smith, President of Citation Management, in his Milwaukee office, he picked up a marker and went to his board and started drawing. A few minutes later, it became clear. The four companies are putting together an integrated package to sell together or in parts to cities across the country.
The key, says Smith, is the monitoring of each on-street parking space. "Our technology allows us to know when a space is occupied, when it is paid, and when it is vacated. All this is transmitted back to a central database, and then, when appropriate, out to enforcement officers in the field. They are notified about specific spaces that are occupied but unpaid, and they can more efficiently plan their routes and citation writing."
As important, he notes, is the ability of a city to plan the usage of its on-street parking and to adjust pricing to fit the requirements of individual areas. As occupancy goes down, so can the rates, and vice versa. These types of tools allow the municipality to tweak and adjust rates as demand requires. (This is the dynamic that Don Shoup discusses in "The High Cost of Free Parking.")
The Duncan portion of the equation brings single-space meters and years of relationship-building into the mix. "In most cities, it's not appropriate to turn every street into pay-by-space," says Smith. "Some areas need single-space meters. Plus, Duncan has the relationship with many cities that will help in the transition from single-space to an integrated system."
The combination of the four companies is in mid-stride. "We have a number of marketing decisions to make as to how we present our product," says Smith. "There is no question that we will be bringing our integrated solution to the market, but we will also have equipment solutions for cities that don't want to take the jump to integration all at once."
Article Abstract from February, 2006