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(FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - May 20, 2013) - The International Parking Institute (IPI) has announced the 2013 recipients of its Professional Recognition Program, created to honor parking industry professionals who exemplify excellence in the industry and who are changing the perception of parking through their actions and organizational programs. Nominated by their peers and selected by IPI's Professional Recognition Committee, this year's winners distinguish themselves by their positive, can-do attitude, and upstanding characteristics.
"Innovative efforts, hard work, and dedication are the hallmarks of a good parking professional, and this year's award recipients have demonstrated all that and much more," says Shawn Conrad, CAE, IPI's executive director. "Not only are they a great asset to their organizations, they have positively impacted their communities, peers, and the parking industry as a whole."
Conrad explained that this year's Parking Professional of the Year Award had special meaning, as the honor was posthumously renamed to honor IPI founding member James M. Hunnicutt for his pioneering contributions to the parking and transportation field.
Hunnicutt's daughters Susan and Kristin Hunnicutt were on hand to bestow the James M. Hunnicutt, CAPP, Parking Professional of the Year to Miami-based Roamy R. Valera, CAPP, SP Plus Municipal & Institutional Services. This newly renamed award honors 24-year industry veteran Valera who makes an ideal first recipient. As director of both municipal and institutional services divisions for Standard Parking Corporation, he is recognized as a leading advocate for the professional management of on- and off-street parking operations in both sectors. Valera has successfully expanded his company's operational base of municipal clients to several U.S. cities while remaining actively involved in numerous parking industry, community, and charitable activities.
IPI members have significantly benefitted from Valera's expertise and advocacy in public relations, customer service policies, and employee training. As a member of several committees, the Advisory Council, and numerous work projects, he has become indispensable to peers by outlining concrete steps to address common issues, such as vehicles making blind turns, customers walking in drive aisles and exiting into active sidewalks, tripping hazards, dark stairwells and elevator lobbies, and criminal activities on parking properties. Valera's industry presentations advocate training programs and initiatives that focus on actual job realities rather than textbook descriptions, and stress the critical nature of the communications process. "If we train [people] to understand how communications work, we will train them to be successful under any scenario that they face on a daily basis," he said.
2013 Supervisor of the Year is CAPP Candidate Jon Rouse, who faced a unique challenge in his first day on the job as general manager of Park Cedar Rapids in Iowa: over 31 feet of water had flooded a 10-square-mile area of downtown, causing $6-9 billion of damages and destroying many major public buildings. The parking system had lost its offices, most of its 900 on-street meters, a 500-space public ramp, and many of its elevators, HVAC systems, skywalks, electrical systems, and paper documentation. Undaunted, Rouse rose to the challenges with full composure and efficiency, quickly establishing himself as a manager of the highest integrity who puts his people first.
Rouse since has overseen the physical rebuilding of the city's parking system. He implemented demand-based, tiered parking pricing; installed credit/debit card-enabled meters; instituted comprehensive spring and fall cleaning of all parking ramps; replaced PARCS systems on all ramps; helped transfer oversight of the municipal parking system to the Cedar Rapids Downtown District (now the CR Metro Economic Alliance); installed energy-efficient lighting in two downtown parking ramps (saving 50 percent in monthly utility costs); and hired and trained several new managers and coordinators. He serves as an inspiration to his staff, clients, and colleagues in the parking industry.
2013 Staff Member of the Year is University of Georgia, Athens, (UGA) Parking Monitor Christine Eberhart, whose signature smile, cheery disposition, and commitment to outstanding customer service has endeared her to students, staff, faculty, and visitors using the campus's Tate Parking Deck. UGA's Finance and Administration Department recently singled her out of 1,800 employees with its Merit Award for Customer Service, given to a person who "goes above and beyond the call of duty to meet customers' needs."
Knowing that new students can be overwhelmed at such a large university, Eberhart quickly puts them at ease; she calls her customers by name and makes campus visitors feel instantly at home. Noted one staff member, "Every time I see her, she greets me with a smile and positive words of encouragement, and this always makes my day...She is very patient and she always goes the extra mile to make sure that everyone in the deck is served to the best of her ability." Eberhart's positive attitude has served as an example for her co-workers, raising the level of performance of her entire department, which was selected as IPI's 2011 Parking Organization of the Year.
IPI's Parking Professional Recognition Awards were announced at its 2013 Conference and Expo in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
The International Parking Institute is the world's largest association representing parking professionals and the parking industry. Learn more at parking.org.