Ken Schmidt to Lead Off 2008 NPA Convention


Ken Schmidt to Lead Off 2008 NPA Convention

Ken Schmidt, a branding guru and former director of communications for Harley-Davidson Motor Co., heads the list of speakers at “The Parking Show of Shows” – the National Parking Association’s 57th Annual Convention and Exposition, to be held Sept. 15-18 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
As former director of communications for Harley-Davidson, Schmidt played an active role in one of the most celebrated turnarounds in corporate history. “How the people of Harley-Davidson were able to turn this great company around, as successfully as we did, makes for one of the best business stories of all time,” he says.
His presentation, “Make Some Noise,” is a fascinating story of building an entirely new corporate culture and of rekindling relationships with customers and reaching out to new ones in completely untraditional ways. He will speak at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 16.
Now an independent consultant, Schmidt has specialized in marketing and branding issues for such corporate powerhouses as Coca-Cola and IBM. An avid motorcyclist himself, Schmidt discusses his struggle to restore Harley-Davidson’s image and re-ignite customer demand for its motorcycles. He details how successful corporate cultures must maintain relationships with veteran customers and innovatively pursue new ones.
Also speaking is crisis-communications expert Gene Grabowski, a senior vice president and chairman of the crisis and litigation practice at Levick Strategic Communications, a leading global firm specializing in high-stakes communications matters. Grabowski earned PR Week’s 2007 Crisis Manager of the Year award for his work on the nationwide spinach recall, the national pet-food recalls and the Chinese toy-import issue. He will speak at 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 18.
Missed your invitation to play in the British Open? Not to worry, you can play 18 of the best holes of the Open rotation courses in Las Vegas at Royal Links Golf Club during the Helen and Jerry Stocks Memorial Golf Outing that benefits the Parking Industry Institute Scholarship Fund. It tees off at 10:45 a.m. Monday, Sept. 15.
NPA Executive Director Marty Stein said momentum is gathering as the association moves ahead from concept to implementation of its five-year strategic plan. Foremost among initial accomplishments are the results of its comprehensive parking industry survey, which will be released and shared with convention attendees at the annual luncheon on Tuesday, Sept. 16.
“2008 has been one of economic change,” Stein continued, with the credit market crunch and recessionary indicators prevalent. “These factors and many more have had and will have an impact on the commercial real estate markets, as well as the parking industry.”
Zaya Younan, chairman and CEO of Younan Properties, will deliver a General Session presentation at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 17. Stein said, “This session will provide a real estate executive’s perspective on how the trends in real estate will affect the parking business over the foreseeable future.”

For a complete list of speakers and more information about the NPA convention, go to

Article contributed by:
James G. Toscas, P.E.
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