Susan Cole, CEO & Founder at Cole Ticket Solutions


Susan Cole, CEO & Founder at Cole Ticket Solutions

Parking Origin Stories is a recurring series on the personal stories of passionate parking professionals. Today, we’ll get to know someone with deep roots in the industry who has continually embraced transformation. 

This characteristic has enabled her to build a business that ushers in the critical parking paradigm shift to “consumables-as-a-service” – from the ground up, on her own, all in the wake of COVID-19.

Read on to learn more about Susan Cole, CEO & Founder of Cole Ticket Solutions.

“The opportunity was exactly what I wanted.”

Susan’s parking story starts on another continent, in another time zone, in another language, and in another industry altogether. At the time, she was living in Granada, Spain working for a Spanish software company and angling to come back to the States. 

One day, a headhunter sent over a job description for a role based in Azusa, California – Susan’s hometown. Receiving that extract while sitting at a desk seven thousand miles away in Spain felt serendipitous. 

The people were great and the role was ideal: sales, travel, and cracking open new markets. Fully on board, she launched into parking with Digital Printing Systems in the world of conversion manufacturing.

“Any country, any market, any vertical. No limits.”

The complexity of the product and the parking industry quickly revealed itself as she worked to open new markets and grow with existing clientele. 

The business was second-generation, family-run, and had been around for 40-ish years, so there was a solid footprint already. The next step was growing the international division, particularly in huge markets in Mexico and South America.

Her clients were operators, universities, airports, municipalities, and even PARCS equipment manufacturers. She teamed up with attendants, property managers, and asset owners to get a feeling for the business “from the lot up to the corporate office.s.

According to Susan, her job wasn’t just about one product for one market for one thing. “We were open for business for absolutely everyone,” she says, “and that freedom and potential was really exciting. I could think up anything and run with it.” 

Starting with less than 5 percent of the total addressable market, Susan grew the business big enough in these markets that they were able to build a manufacturing plant in Mexico and supply to enterprise clients like Walmart.

“I felt like it was a really dynamic time.”

During this period, revenue control was maturing from clusters of single-function equipment into a complete, cloud-based solution. 

With software, aggregators, and other technologies emerging, revenue products could do more than simply count how many people come in and out of a garage. Sensing the urgency to integrate these systems, Susan decided to play a role in that transformation. 

She liked the technical aspect of what revenue control was becoming. According to Susan, the bulk of revenue and access control, even with the fanciest software in place, is tethered to a mechanical feature: the push, the pull, or the scan.

Her background in converting manufacturing plus her passion for technology made her perfectly suited to lead this paradigm shift.

“I schlepped through garages in heels with a baby in my belly.”

When asked to speak to her experience as a woman in parking, Susan is thoughtful and matter of fact:

“It was this somewhat isolating experience of someone going through a different set of life circumstances. What women carry on their shoulders in our personal lives means that the path we take to cross the finish line looks different from the one that many men take.” 

Susan continues: “I’ve been very lucky that I’ve had some amazing people supporting me through the past 20 years, which were very formative for me personally, as well as professionally. Marriage, kids, house, all while cutting my teeth in parking.”

Susan feels that parking has evolved significantly over the past few decades and finds it exciting to grow her footprint as a woman in the industry.

“I wasn’t going to wait for someone else to give me an opportunity.”

Two months prior to the onset of the pandemic, Susan accepted a position with a smaller converter. But sadly, like so many qualified parking professionals during this period, she was laid off due to COVID-19.

In that moment, Susan decided that she wasn’t ever going to wait for another opportunity. She channeled the entrepreneurial, get-it-done, DIY energy that she loved so much about parking and marched on.

After writing the plan and finding a mentor with the SBA SCORE program, Cole Ticket Solutions was born in February 2021.

She decided that her focus was going to be “solutions, but not just one product.” In other words, not just a paper ticket, but a ticket fortified with credentials for complete revenue and access control purposes. 

She developed an on-site, touchless, automated ticket supply system for her partners that turns orders into products faster. Susan calls it “consumables-as-a-service.” 

The benefits of streamlined ordering, overhead cost savings related to procurement and storage, and elimination of months in lead time for order fulfillment is revolutionary in the revenue control/ticket industry. 

Susan believes this is the future of revenue control. The proof is in the pudding: the first Cole Ticket Solutions site has supplied the San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency portfolio with revenue control products for all 24 municipal garages for the past year.

Today, her biggest wins are airports, including LAX, Sky Harbor, Palm Springs, Las Vegas, Van Nuys, and Long Beach. Municipalities, too: Susan recently signed with the City of Madison and a three-year contract to supply revenue control products for the Port of Houston.

“I’ve been preparing for this marathon for years and years.”

Looking at everything that she’s accomplished with the business, and all of the experiences that led up to it, she likens it to preparing for a marathon. 

“I’ve been training for this for years,” she says, “building big stuff from the ground up. First with other peoples’ businesses, and now with my own.”

Like a true entrepreneur, she views any challenge that she has to contend with as an opportunity to develop new ideas and do things differently. 

“I have grown up in the business, and people trust me,” Susan says. “If I say that I’m going to do something, I do it. Sometimes people say ’you’re crazy, what kind of idea is that?’ and then it’s on me to prove it out. I love it. I love it for parking, for me, and for everybody out there with a ‘crazy’ idea of their own.”

Susan has held numerous industry leadership roles over her two decades in the industry. She sat on the board of the California Parking Association, was one of the founding members of the National Valet Association, and attended the very first Women in Parking conference. She has served on the international division of the International Parking & Mobility Association, working to found associations in other countries. Susan received the Chairman’s Award in 2014 and, today, holds 17 DOT diversity certifications in 10 states.

Inspired by Susan’s Story story and want to share yours? Reach out to Sarah Becherer at – she’d love to hear from you.

Article contributed by:
Sarah Becherer
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