The NPA Show

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The NPA Show

To review a competitive trade show is difficult, as it is filtered through a lot of prejudices that I have. But I will give it a shot.

Let me say at the outset that Marty Stein and the NPA pros did the most professional job in their presentation I have ever seen at a parking event. The presentations, speakers, and like events were the outstanding. Having Frank Abagnale ( the "Catch Me if You Can" guy ) was a coup. Even considering the fact that he is a employee of NPA sponsor Discover, it took nothing away from the power of his presentation, first on his life as a swindler and crook, and then as an FBI consultant and finder of fraud. We will certainly be doing an article on his presentation concerning check fraud in an upcoming Parking Today.

The trade show itself was equally well presented. It was an 8×10 show — that is the vast majority of booths were single booths. Of the 65 companies present, six were affinity sponsors of the NPA. These companies have developed a relationship with the NPA that goes beyond the trade event itself and show themselves as ongoing sponsors of the organization throughout the year.

The NPA once again should be proud of the ‘look’ of the show. It was compact and this led to a generation of frenetic activity when the show opened that filled the room with action and noise. Good move.

I am certain they would have liked a larger turnout. There were 130 people, including spouses and exhibitors, present in the hall for the Abagnale presentation, and after the initial rush, the exhibit hall thinned out considerably. I did see the President of Central Parking (Emmanuel Eads), the Owner of Imperial, and of course a number of heads of parking companies from across the country. There is no doubt, if you want to meet some parking movers and shakers, the NPA is the place to go.

Apologies in advance to the many that I saw there but left out below:

An aside –. I saw a group of people standing talking on the show floor. It included Imperial owner Walter Schulpe, and a number of his staff. As I approached the group, their conversation stopped dead. Walter laughed and said "Boy, John, you sure know how to change the subject." I also chatted with NPA President Steve Long, Saw past prez Goeff Sheppard getting his shoes shined in Tom Duemling’s booth (Parkut). Had a nice chat with Ohio Parking Association’s Dennis McAndrew and NPA Board Member Tom Phillips (JR), NPA Treasurer and "The Car Park" owner Jeff Wolfe. Jim Miller of Miller Parking in Michigan stopped me and mentioned that his PT has stopped coming. I will fix that. I had a great meal Monday nite at Miami Beach institution Joe’s Stone Crabs with old friend Gloria Payne, late of BART and now with Watry Design. and Integra Park’s Ruth Beaman and Kayle Cashion (Kyle is a great person to have along. He becomes a designated driver and the rest of us can, shall we say, imbibe.)

I visited every booth and chatted with, amongst others, Tom and Roy Carter at Toledo,  and up the aisle, was reminded that Southern Specialties is now being marketed exclusively by Mark Curtis and Pacific Cascade’s Parking Zone. I had a long chat with Green Courte Partners’  Jim Goldman and spent 20 minutes comparing blogs with T2′ Blake Laufer who reminded me that he is not only Canadian but still living in Toronto.

I’m afraid that I gave Doug Mernier at First National Merchant Solutions a bit of a hard time when discussing their credit card processing — I came on like and ace reporter. We had a great time discussing their product. I especially liked talking to Magnetic Autocontrol’s Chris Fuchs. Chris and I go back to when his dad was in the business and I was just learning about revenue control. We agreed that the revenue control business is very competitive although he indicated that his company was doing extremely well. I ran in to Zeag’s Chris Iles in his former employers booth (WPS) talking to Derek Kiley et all. And S and B’s new Sales Manager Jeff Sparrow was working the floor.

Digital Payment’s booth was active and I could only talk briefly with Mike Rodger. I didn’t see Peter Alcock with Credit call but his staff was singing the praises of doing business in the US as compared with the EU. Dave Witts was holding forth at the Parkeon Booth, and Karen Pradhan and Keith Lynch were staffing Skidata — Karen always remembers her "bad hair day" at Intertraffic in Amsterdam when I took her picture then ran it in PT. My goal was to show a new feature of Skidata…oh well.

Rod Hoover wasn’t down for the show from Federal APD, but Jerry Hoover was, and we spoke longingly of the days when we both started in the business, in the days when computers were the size of refrigerators and the goal was to simply make gates go up and down…

I got that feeling from most of the exhibitors. 2005 has been a good year.

All in all, the NPA mounted a good event. Those that didn’t attend, missed an enlightening time.

Marty faces the problems all of us face when holding a convention and exhibition. All the exhibitors want more people in the aisles. But the right combination to make it happen is allusive.

JVH

John Van Horn

John Van Horn

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