FAAC: Growth Through M&A
Parking Today interviews Andrea Marcellan, FAAC CEO.
1- Tell us a bit about the history of the FAAC Group
FAAC Group is a global leader in access and revenue control systems with solid financial foundations. Since its early days, here in Italy in 1965, our company mission has been to improve the quality of life and safety of our customers, simplifying and automating daily actions through the design and deployment of innovative and functional devices for access automation and control, for vehicular and pedestrian use.
The company has grown both organically and through M&A, like with the recent acquisition of TIBA, and today, we are leaders in the smart parking industry in North America and among the Top 5 worldwide.
Moving on to parking – our Parking Business Unit is HUB Parking Technology, with headquarters in Bologna, Italy and branches on all continents. Our backbone is a combination of unique skills, network and strength of a global player, with the flexibility, professional expertise and close service of a local organization: HUB is the largest supplier of revenue control systems in the U.S. and Canada, with sales and service representatives spanning from the East to West Coast of North America.
2- How about the company’s entrance into
the U.S. market?
FAAC Group entered the U.S. market with access solutions back in 1988, with the opening of FAAC USA branch originally in Cleveland, Ohio, then moving to Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1990 (then to Jacksonville, FL in 2009, and Rockledge, FL in 2013).
Speaking of parking – until the 90s, all parking players offered pretty much the same hardware options and functionalities. Cigar boxes handling cash to digital technology to eventual geo-fencing with no equipment. Things started to change with the introduction of microprocessors and some simple software versus all hardware. Access control introduced magnetic cards, with little differentiation, though.
The market saw a massive change with the introduction of pay-on-foot (POF) – that was about the time we acquired Zeag in 2011, and brought the best of Swiss parking technology to our U.S. customers. Thus, we gained presence both in the USA (Zeag America in Minneapolis, MN) and Zeag Canada (Mississauga, Ontario).
Datapark Group was acquired in February 2012 significantly increasing our presence in the U.S. market. The following year, we acquired CTR Parking (Warrendale, PA), ZEAG distributor for the Eastern USA and leader in the Airport PARCS market – many of “their” customers are still with us nowadays! Towards the end of 2014, all entities were merged into “HUB Parking Technology USA” thus creating a single legal entity, and a single point of excellence in the parking industry.
3- How does FAAC see its relationship with its customers?
Our key assets are the local teams, who daily enforce the company mission and turn it into value for customers: reliable, high-performance solutions for access and mobility needs.
Products do not improve in time, just by themselves! This entails a continuous effort of interlacing communication from the markets with technology evolution: eyes on the industry trends, ears to the customers.
Advanced technology is embedded in all of our products, from traffic bollards to parking apps.
We are well aware that there are risks related to digital technology. FAAC Group has considered this by developing and deploying all the necessary countermeasures.
We invest in risk and compliance staff who are knowledgeable in ways to prevent cyber-attacks and monitor the increasing evolution of compliance requirements to ensure that we protect the data and information about your clients and clients’ end users (e.g., credit cards and personal information on parking apps). We also invest in firewalls and network isolation.
4- If you could pick one thing that makes FAAC – through HUB – a leader in PARCS, what would it be and why?
Just one? HUB is born with 100 years of industry expertise, if we sum up those of the parking players that have merged. Their complexity and specific points of excellence proved complementary, and capable to address highly customized businesses. Today, the entirety of this international knowledge is unified into Jupiter platform: hence, the one thing that makes HUB a leader, is that expertise that acts as springboard for meeting the industry’s evolving needs.
Our digital brain is JMS web-based management software, ready by design to adapt to the ever-changing scenarios of smart parking. It allows smooth integration with proprietary and third-party systems and solutions, such as Intercom, License Plate Recognition, Variable Message Signs, dynamic rate management, valet services, loyalty systems, parking apps, and many other subsystems.
In-house design, development, and manufacturing enable us to produce competitive solutions that offer long-term value. It is no surprise that some customers have been with us for decades now: Toronto Parking Authority, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, and many more joining in, such as LAX airport and prestigious venues.
The cherry on top? We are also nearing the completion of full integration with EV charging stations, in North America.
Our focus for the future will be on sustainability: it will change the access, mobility and parking ecosystems. We shall dedicate specific attention to footprint reduction of equipment, utilization of renewable energy, fewer interactions with equipment and more and more frictionless experiences