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Parking Origin Stories: Ryan Givens, Regional Account Executive @ Parker Technology

This is an installment of Ocra’s “Parking Origin Stories” series that shares the personal stories of passionate parking professionals about their experiences starting out in, and continuing to grow with, the parking industry.

A version of this story first appeared on page 24-25 of the March 2024 edition of Parking Today magazine.

Today’s Story: Ryan Givens, Regional Account Executive @ Parker Technology

Parking Origin Stories is a series highlighting the personal journeys of passionate parking professionals. 

In today’s installment, we dive into the journey of Ryan Givens: fitness enthusiast, Formula One fanatic, and former Marine Corps officer who specialized in transportation for 11 years before entering the parking industry.

For the past three years, Ryan has been a Regional Sales Director with Parker Technology overseeing the western part of the United States.

Without further ado, let’s dive into Ryan’s story, his values, his vision, and his predictions for our industry.

“They wanted to teach us a lesson, I guess.”

Ryan’s first experience with the parking industry was an encounter with the Zurich police.

Back in his Marine days, when stationed in Germany, Ryan and another marine made the two-hour drive from Stuttgart to Zurich on their day off.

“This was back before you research parking online,” Ryan says, “so I found a parking spot on this little one-way street and left the car there. But when we got back, we saw another car boxing us in.”

After a few minutes, a serious-looking person walked out of a nearby building and approached Ryan. As it turns out, that building was a Swiss police station, and Ryan’s car was parked in a spot reserved for an undercover detective who was apparently having a very busy and important day in Zurich.

“I had no idea, but they wanted to teach us a lesson, I guess”, recalls Ryan. “And so we had to pay a fine. But I only had my military credit card on me.”

Ryan’s military card was only earmarked for certain purchases. The officers swiped it repeatedly, getting more and more frustrated, and eventually handed it along with a stern warning.

That was his introduction to parking, nine years before he entered it for the long haul.

“I had a lot of tools in my toolbox from past experiences.”

After leaving the military, Ryan got into real estate and new homes sales.

He worked for a small builder and learned about building infrastructure. But after a few years, he started looking at getting back into transportation as a facility planner.

“Funny how things work out,” Ryan says, that a requirement for the gig he was most interested in was being able to read blueprints; that’s not usually a skill that someone in transportation is fluent in.

Without that qualification, he wouldn’t have scored the position managing parking for North Carolina State University in Raleigh.

Ryan was immediately, happily entrenched in parking: “When I got into it, I found that I was good at it. I had a lot of tools in my toolbox and it felt like a natural fit.”

After NCSU, Ryan took a job in parking at Penn State. Part of his role was to work with facilities to determine when construction and maintenance were taking place.

By doing so, Ryan developed a unique dual-perspective view of both the operational and construction sides of the business.

“There was sincerity there. I knew I wanted that.”

Penn State was the second university to become a Parker Technology customer, so Ryan quickly got to know the company and its leadership team.

“At the first couple industry conferences that I went to, it was Scott Gould, Brian Wolff, and Tammy Baker”, Ryan says. “I watched this company grow and bring in people who embody the service and culture, like Heidi Barber. There was sincerity there. I knew I wanted that.”

He continues: “When you’re immersed in a positive culture and your current employment situation is less than ideal, it’s not that you’ve necessarily forgotten what’s important, but that positivity is a refresher.”

When Parker Technology was accelerating in late 2020 and early 2021, Ryan reached out to Brian Wolff, the CEO, and the two started meeting regularly.

“I told Brian straight up that I’d be proud to wear the Parker Technology logo”, recalls Ryan. “If you’re with a company and you dont wanna wear that logo, something’s the matter. Brian said that resonated with him.”

It soon became official: Ryan was on board.

As Ryan applies his accumulated, diverse experience to working for Parker Technology, he realizes more and more that success is about the ability to understand where customers are coming from.

He considers his perspective as a former customer to be an asset, too.

In Ryan’s words: “If I’m going to sell a product that I don’t have experience with, that’s 100% salesmanship. But if I have been a customer and I’m selling it, it’s genuine knowledge. It’s not salesmanship; it’s conversational. It’s real life.”

“People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”

Ryan values sincerity, shared values, and the sense of moving in the same direction.

According to Ryan, “when you’re dealing with your team, or with a customer or potential customer, people can tell if you’re being sincere or if you’re blowing smoke.”

He continues: “They don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”

Ryan believes that a salesperson who gives the impression of only wanting to close the sale is making it all about themselves. And though that deal may close because the customer needs the platform or service, it’s not going to be a good relationship.

Ryan also says that he asks customers to be honest about their experience with him, including their disappointments, because he wants to evolve and get better.

“You have to be open to that feedback,” Ryan says, “even if it’s uncomfortable. Because at the end of the day, you need your sincerity and your integrity. And if you’re lacking either of those, people will respond accordingly.”

“This is a rich industry for go-getters.”

“A lot of people outside of the industry are amazed that we even have conferences,” Ryan says, “but this is a rich industry for go-getters. There is lots of room to move up the ladder if you take initiative to stand out in a positive way.”

Ryan advises to “do what you say you’re gonna do and follow through”. And if you fumble, accept responsibility and take that opportunity to learn and grow.

Ultimately, Ryan says, no matter how smart technology gets, there is always going to be some confusion and frustration. Parking will always be a people business, and relationships, collaborations, partnerships need to continue to evolve.

Speaking further on this evolution, Ryan believes that even businesses that consider themselves competitors need to recognize that there are too many silos.

His philosophy is that if he doesn’t do a certain thing well and someone or something else out there does, he regards that person or business as a potential partner.

Ryan says: “If you’re great at A and B but not so much as C, stop trying to be A and B and C, but bring in the right company to do C. If you do that, you’ll look like a rockstar to the customer and improve your service level. I don’t see much negative in trying to get better for customers.”

Want to learn more about Ryan’s parking journey? Connect with him on LinkedIn and send him a message! And if you have a parking story of your own to tell, contact Sarah Becherer, VP of Marketing at Ocra, at sarah@getocra.com.

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