Trade Shows, Change in Our Industry, A Dig at Consultants, and a Bit More 3M


Trade Shows, Change in Our Industry, A Dig at Consultants, and a Bit More 3M

Wow! It’s trade show season. From what I can tell, it’s always trade show season. As I write this, I just got back from the 2015 CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. I’m not sure now why I went, and am certain I will never go again.
There were thousands of exhibitors; they took up two convention centers (the five-hall Las Vegas Convention Center and the Sands Expo and Convention Center).
And there were 180,000 attendees. The place was packed so tight that you couldn’t move down the aisles. If by chance you happened to get to a booth with products that interested you, there was no way you could get any information except for the brochure on the table in front.
While I was driving home to LA from “Sin City,” I thought about trade shows and just why we spend thousands to attend, and just what we get out of them.
I have come to the conclusion that the “mega” shows like the CES are basically useless; however, the industry-specific shows, such as those in the parking industry, can be extremely valuable.
Elsewhere in this issue of Parking Today, I have written about what I think is important about trade events. One thing is for sure – in this case, bigger isn’t better.
And just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, there’s more consolidation and movement going on in our industry.
LocoMobi has merged with SMC, and about half a dozen app companies have bonded with operators and municipalities. Bijan Eghtedari has forsaken Florida to sit at Jerry Skillett’s right had at Lanier. Skidata has purchased a majority interest in Sentry, its largest dealer (40% of sales). …
Read PT’s daily to keep up.
Also, I heard that a substantial number of former 3M dealers have signed up with other revenue control vendors, examples being ITR of Georgia joining Amano McGann-Atlanta and Signature Control Systems signing up with TIBA Parking. And just when you thought public-private partnerships (PPPs) were dead, Scranton, PA, has 10 groups looking to buy, lease, or run its city garages and on-street operation.
And as I write this on Jan. 14, there is much more to come. 2015 is going to be a heckuva year.
Here at PT, we have really “gone Hollywood.” With the help of Bryan Gusdorf and his Marketing Group, we have created a short video hawking the features and benefits of the Parking Industry Exhibition. Using a “whiteboard” technique, the video is peppy, fun, and tells the story in two minutes. Check it out at
From PT reader and correspondent Mark:
When I first started to read the [Jan. 14 entry titled “Planners Seek To ‘Get Prices Right’ On Parking” on the CQ Roll Call Blog The Container], I thought it was just going to be another regurgitation of quotes from [UCLA Professor Don] Shoup’s book “The High Costs of Free Parking.” 
There wasn’t anything really new or groundbreaking, but the last lines of the article – starting with a quote from a planner – might be the perfect summation of how to explain the drastic oversupply of parking that exists in the U.S.:
“If I oversupply parking, as a planner, I avoid a cost that I would feel acutely; people coming and yelling at me; or perhaps my elected official getting thrown out of office.”  In contrast, [blogger Tom Curry writes,] the costs of oversupply are shared widely by tens of thousands of taxpayers and business who don’t really feel the pain….
Mark: Sounds about right. It’s as simple as “taking the easy way out.”
JVH: Well said.
A few thoughts on parking equipment distributors that have been forced to change their suppliers with the demise of 3M’s parking operation:
When I was selling revenue control equipment, distributors would change vendors from time to time. I often wondered just how they justified dropping one line and picking up another. They had for years been telling their customers that the product they were representing was “the cat’s pajamas,” and now, overnight, it had dropped from favor. Would a customer really buy that act?
In the 3M case, it’s different. The vendor has forced the distributors to make the change. They can have the conversation that, although they really liked the 3M line, it no longer existed, and after much consideration, had elected to carry another line. And they will continue to offer the excellent service and support to the new product as they did to the old.
As one distributor told me, the organizations that used parking equipment in their territories were their customers, not 3M’s. They had developed the relationships and would be able to have the conversation easily with these groups, because they were trusted suppliers and provided excellent service no matter what logo was on the equipment.
I tend to agree with this. I have always held the position that most all parking revenue control equipment works, and most all parking revenue control equipment doesn’t. One difference is the application and the customer (wanting it to work).
But most important, it’s the quality of the installation and the kind of training, service and support that the customer receives. In most cases, that comes from the distributor, and not from the equipment manufacturer.
I know of cases where exactly the same equipment was installed in similar applications (in this case, two hospitals within 100 miles of each other).
In one, the equipment came as part of the design-build, with the general contractor installing it and walking away when the garage was opened. The owner was “stuck” with equipment he had no involvement in purchasing and had no local service or support.
In the other, the owner selected the equipment and worked closely with the distributor throughout the installation, shake-out and training process. The equipment worked flawlessly.
Same vendor, same factory manufacturing, but different after-market service and support. One system worked, the other didn’t.
Quality distribution, installation, training and support make all
the difference.
Speaking of 3M – my apologies to the former parking equipment manufacturer. In my article about it last month, I moved its manufacturing plant from Austin to San Antonio, TX.
To all those folks working in the Austin facility, feel free to report to your same location tomorrow morning. The JVH movement to San Antonio was in error.
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