Experiences in the Industry and What Makes a Great Leader
Originally published in Parking Today on Dec. 1, 2022.
Over the nearly four decades since founding one of the nation’s largest privately owned parking and mobility companies – spanning more than 750 locations and 4,000 employees – I’ve learned valuable lessons about the keys to effective leadership. At its core, I believe successful leadership stems from the ability to attract and support a team that shares your vision. Great leaders instill in their teams values and confidence, and then empower individuals to make strategic decisions, resolve issues, and move forward.
As a leader, it’s critical to understand every aspect of our business and industry. From my own beginnings as an entrepreneur, starting with a 60-space parking lot in downtown Hartford, Conn., I have set out to learn the industry from the ground up and provide a premium parking experience that puts people first. We endeavored to make our lot the best parking location in the city by personally valeting cars, meticulously maintaining the property, consistently providing unparalleled customer service, and hiring new employees to grow our Propark family.
Transformational leaders recognize the contributions of their team and share credit for wins. Propark Mobility’s success can be attributed to the drive of our parking people, who are supported by a company culture that rewards innovation and extends camaraderie at every level. We prioritize our employees’ well-being and acknowledge that people are our greatest asset. I am especially proud of our team’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, leading a new era of contactless payment systems, dynamic revenue generation programs, and revolutionary real-time reporting that ensured the success of our clients’ operations.
Propark’s personal and inclusive approach to leadership also extends to the companies we’ve proudly acquired and whose partnerships have helped us grow over the years. In merging with other companies that we admire, we get to know and understand their leadership style, values, and culture, and together, chart a path to uphold their legacies and meet our mutual strategic goals. This includes regional parking companies in the past year – such as Monument Parking in Washington, D.C.; Pilgrim Parking in Boston; and Sovereign Services in Houston – and more partnerships and growth opportunities we continue to seek every day.
As 2022 comes to a close, it’s an opportunity to reflect on the enormous obstacles caused by the pandemic and appreciate how our company not only faced them, but embraced them, with resilience and creativity. With that as inspiration, we can stay nimble and position ourselves to adapt to even more change that will move our industry forward in the years ahead.
John Schmid is CEO and Chairman of Propark Mobility.