The Greatest Value of the IPI Exposition
Like most folks, when I first entered the parking industry, other than navigating my vehicle to fit between the two designated yellow lines, I knew very little about parking. Never in my wildest dreams could I have ever imagined the complexities involved in that one parking place or, for that matter, the entire parking industry. This, my friends, is an industry that employs in excess of one million people and has revenues totaling billions of dollars.
My greatest eye-opening experience was attending a national trade show. I was amazed by the numbers of vendors, the various products available and how many people were in attendance. Many of these people, like me, were administering programs across the country and managing garages - two different tasks but, obviously, with similar challenges. Attending sessions was great, but perhaps the greatest value I received was the fantastic networking opportunities!
I still remember my first International Parking Institute Conference & Exposition like it was yesterday. It may feel like yesterday; however, I must admit it was more than two kids ago (with one of those kids currently entering middle school)!
At the national shows, the opportunity presents itself to meet your peers, who have been where you are, deal with the same politics, and are either looking for solutions to the same challenges you have or have solutions they are willing to share.
Networking is perhaps one of the biggest benefits of these shows. Trading information, exchanging contact information, knowing who's who - all that is invaluable. I can pick up the phone or e-mail any number of contacts I've gathered over the years and discuss an issue without feeling inadequate. Heck, I can simply commiserate with my colleagues about issues facing my operation and know they completely understand.
Networking opportunities, in many ways, make our industry unique. In the past, we did not have many reference tools to learn from, so we absorbed knowledge from one another. So, let's make one of the goals of this year's IPI show to embrace with open arms the "newbie," remembering how we felt when we were the "new kid on the block."
Earlier, I stated that no one never forgets his or her first IPI show; however, there is another IPI show that will never be forgotten. This memorable show is when the attendee is a Certified Administrator of Public Parking (CAPP) candidate. This is when requirements have been successfully completed to receive a CAPP diploma from the IPI and University of Virginia.
Looking back to the first IPI show I attended, I would never have foreseen standing up in front of colleagues and good friends - all of whom I met through the parking industry - and receiving this prestigious certification. Then again, I never would have predicted a career of putting cars between two yellow lines, either. Isn't the parking industry just great!
See you in Las Vegas!!!
Robert Milner, CAPP, is Director of Parking and Transportation for
the University of Maryland, Baltimore. He can be reached at