Itís Not About Me Itís About WIP
Parking Today sat down with Ruth Beaman to discuss starting a business in challenging times, starting the Women in Parking group, and the Parking Industry in general.
PT: How did you get into parking?
RB: Only by accident (laughs). A friend of mine was a head hunter who had the perfect job for me. The way the job was described, it sounded like working a puzzle. I love puzzles, so I fell for it.
PT: What made you start IntegraPark?
RB: Realizing back then that there was no automation on the audit side, no ticket tracking other than doing it manually. To do manual auditing, I had to go into basements and garages to get paperwork out of storage. I said to myself never again! I’m fixing this!
PT: To what do you attribute your success?
RB: Determination to not take no for an answer. You have to decide you want to make it better and easier. You want to share with others that you can do it. Just because you’re a woman does not mean you can’t head a corporation.
Every time your reach your goal, set another one higher.
PT: What was your greatest failure?
RB: Hmm – leaving my home at an early age and thinking I knew it all. But I didn’t know squat. Being too hard headed to admit it. That taught me how to scrape and get a job and how to live on my own. It made me who I am because I realized you have to work so you can show others that you have to make your own choices and live by the consequences.
PT: What drives you to keep going?
RB: God keeps me going along with my family, my kids, my grandkids. I want them to be able to look at me and say “if she was able to make it through, then I can.”
PT: Does your company help the local community?
RB: We make donations to the United Way. I worked for them early on in a section that helped the elderly. Ironic that I truthfully left that job because they were going computerized. It was back in the day when you had two floppy discs – one to run the program and one for the data. I ended up staying and learning how to do it – and it was so much easier.
PT: What makes you happy?
RB: Helping to make others happy.
PT: Would you do anything differently?
RB: I don’t know that I would. Everything I did taught me and molded me and reinforced me. You have to take every experience as a learning experience.
PT: How did you come up with the idea for WIP?
RB: I was at a Central Parking alumni group reception. We started taking pictures, and when I looked at them I realized that I was the only female. I didn’t realize I was just one of the guys, and the guys didn’t realize that I was just one of the guys. I thought Women in Parking might turn out to be really good. Robyn Van Horn came up with the idea to gather the group of women and leave us alone at the trade show in Pittsburgh.
PT: Was there an ‘ah hah’ moment?
RB: Yep! At Intertraffic one year it was stunning – Dr. Norbert Miller, the head of S+B, took us to dinner one night and he was the odd man in the room. His wife made a comment that he would finally see how it felt to be the only one of his gender at a meeting. He did. That resonated with him.
PT: What makes WIP a unique organization?
RB: Women in hiring positions in the parking industry have pretty much been nonexistent up until recently, and I think that is finally getting the attention of the young females in the room. They may think that if these ladies have all made it during the years, I can, too. As an engineer, a designer, draftsman, accountant, business leader, whatever the field is we can do it! Parking is not always the first thing people think of for a job. It is, however, the most interesting thing I have been in.
PT: Are you surprised at the turnout?RB: No, it is growing at a very good rate.
PT: Are you surprised at the number of male members?
RB: Yes! I hate to say that because I don’t want the men to say that we never wanted them to be a part of this. The support of men is a big attribute to the organization.
PT: What is your favorite aspect of being the founder?
RB: Helping others, helping them move up. I can sit back and see how exciting it is to have young people be a part of this group, to see their successes.
PT: Where would you like it to go from here?
RB: The sky’s the limit. With the right guidance this can be a big benefit to any of the members. It’s for the members to get to know people. I see how many connections are made at the receptions. The startups are now connecting with the veterans of the industry.
PT: What would be your advice for someone just starting out?
RB: Always do your best, and set your goals high. Every time your reach your goal, set another one higher.
PT: If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
RB: Maybe what would I wish for? I wish everybody the success and happiness I have had in parking.
PT: Any closing thoughts?
RB: It’s not about me, it’s about WIP. To be able to make sure that it got on its own feet, I did everything I could to make sure it had all of the ability for success. By putting the money up or whatever. I don’t want income from it, I never looked at it as something to make money. I wanted it to be a not for profit – it’s for the profit of all of the members. I’ll get back the money I put into it, but I won’t take another dime out of it.
KAREN BLASING PRADHAN Sales Channel Professional, SKIDATA, Inc. is the special editor for this month’s Parking Today and Treasurer of Women in Parking. She can be reached at Karen.Pradhan@skidata.com