The Intertraffic Show is primarily a networking one for me…I have great interest in new innovation (see May PT for some of those). I get to make new professional friends and renew old ones. Americans I saw included John Hammerschlag, Tom Carter, Greg Parzych, Tom Wunk and Jeff Sparrow, Keith Lynch, but few others. The American contingent does itself a disservice in its absence. The Europeans are coming, bet on it.
Here’s a few of the parking leaders I met with in Amsterdam. You can expect a more lengthy story or two to come out of those meetings to be published in PT over the next few months.
Phillippe Princet, VP of International Operations for Vinci Park. The French aren’t coming, in the words of Lafayette "we are here." Phillippe is every bit as charming as his French accent. He spoke of growth, quality, and service. He is happy with his company’s purchases in Canada (from Central and others) making them the second largest operator north of the border. He spoke kindly of Alan Lazowski and Laz Parking; Vinci bought a half interest in the group late last year. The Vinici/Laz connection has also purchased Classified Parking in Dallas and Sunset Parking in San Diego. More is on the horizon. With the dollar down, it’s a fire sale. The Europeans, Princet included are looking for a rebound in the dollar in the future. They are looking for bargains now.
Yves Chambeau, President of Parkeon, sees the US Market booming, but from a slightly different perspective. He sees his company moving from a simple supplier of P and D/S equipment to a complete solution for cities, providing a dashboard/database to combine all the information from all parking sources. He says that with over 10,000 machines installed in North America, Parkeon needs to listen to its customers and support product development in the US. He talks of "channels" of information – meters, citations, counts, on street, off street, that need to be coordinated and managed.
Robert Weiskopf, Chief Marketing and Sales officer for Car Access at Skidata used the word "partner" over and over. He sees the need for partnering with the operators and owners to ensure that his products meet their needs. He wants Skidata to become the service and support arms of the operator. If they need something, it should be readily available. The company’s first user group workshop will be held in early 2009. ‘Our customers need to know our products as well as we do. Our goal is to interface each device over the internet so the data from all a customer’s garages are readily available." Technology? Skidata wants to be on the cutting edge, as he demonstrated their "wheel" based gui interface. It has the feel of an iPhone and will enable customers to perform all types of actions at a Pay on Foot, not just pay for parking.
Thomas Braunhalder from Magnetic Automation is settled in after his move from Zeag last year. "I love it, I live in Switzerland, Work in Germany. It’s only an hour drive to work. That’s less than most commutes in the US. His smile? Our sales are up 30 %. We are listening and giving our customers what they want. I took a picture of him in front of a Boa Constrictor wrapped around one of his gates. "We have a menagerie – snake, cheetah, parrot, they all reflect some aspect of our product.
US director of Operations Tom Wunk at Scheidt and Bachmann and Director of R and D Markus Schneider, proudly put me in a top end Audi and demonstrated how the car could enter, leave, and pay parking fees using the internal on board computer system of the vehicle. I was told that new cars are now using the same avi style system build in, so manufacturers can use the car’s ID to track all types of activity, including parking. I’m not too sure, since I can’t set the clock in my car, but the Germans say it’s easy as PIE.
Mark Reed and John Lovell, North American Heads for Zeag were touting their newly designed equipment. Although it had a "feel" of the original equipment, it takes on a more traditional approach. New displays, new software, and a different approach to marketing in some areas. (Zeag is, for instance, now direct in southern California).
Ali Khaksar, US head of Tagmaster took me on a tour of their new products, including one avi tag and antenna that read at 85 feet. "It’s a specialized application,’ he noted, "but useful in freight and marshalling facilitates."
At that’s just the tip of the iceberg,
Plan to attend this "show of shows" in 2010. Manufacturers use the every other year format to introduce new products and display some future cutting edge technologies.
Gotta run, meetings here in London.