Partner Company Spotlight: Protection Tech
Partnerships build meaningful relationships; they provide a collaborative forum that encourages connectivity, the sharing of ideas, and innovations. At Passport, we gain our most valuable insight from the relationships we’ve built within our industry. Those relationships are key to our growth.
With 16 years of experience in a variety of roles in the parking industry, Damon Kessler, President of Protection Tech, has seen the industry transform. I got the opportunity to chat with Damon about the industry’s transformation, the challenges that often arise, and the innovations that are to come:
Q: The transportation industry continues to transform. Currently, what are some of the significant changes happening in the industry?
Damon: When I started, most of the industry was paper-oriented with very manual processes. One of the main reasons I joined Protection Tech was because I really liked the technology and the change to automation. We were one of the first companies to create web-based validators, therefore, you didn’t have chasers or stickers anymore. Seeing all the cashier booths and pay boxes go away – really took the human element out of parking. In the future, I really see more automation and less cash-based systems. Next I believe there will be payment by vehicle and even using Bluetooth technology with gated areas.
I do think there’s a great interest in space sensing; where you don’t even have to send an enforcement agent out in the field. Again, reducing that human element because it’s an ongoing cost. The cost of space sensing is still quite high to deploy, however, with more competition in the market eventually it will drive down the price. That will then be another step that will reduce the human element in technology.
Q: What are some of the biggest challenges you’re hearing from clients?
D: It depends on the customer. When I talk to hospitals they worry the technology is far too advanced for their customers. I still have hospitals where I install booths and manual cashiers where they can interact with the customer personally. In commercial space, which is our busiest vertical, the customer still cares about that face time and again that dilutes the technology advantages. Their concern is that they really have never changed, the customer pays for parking and if there’s no problem then they’re fine.
Q: How has the transportation industry played a significant role in the ‘smart city’ movement?
D: What I’ve seen, especially for the millennial generation, is that cars aren’t important anymore. Where they live is important, especially in Seattle where I’m located. Millennials are spending twice as much on rent and mortgages than on cars. Lots take the bus, walk, or bike, therefore, they don’t have any vehicle expenses. That’s unfortunate for our industry and I see it in other markets as well. We’re seeing a massive amount of residential high rises being built in the urban center with very little parking. For our industry, it hurts us because the growth of these new developments mean we will not be a part of that aspect, but it helps the owners of the property that do have parking.
I think more and more people are transitioning to living in cities. Even my generation, Generation X, is tired of suburbia and are moving into cities. I see more and more developers are being motivated by the millennial generation to provide housing that’s close to cities to prevent relying on transportation.
Q: What was one of the main reasons you chose to partner with Passport?
D: I was naturally drawn to a one-stop shop, being somebody who used to have to manage parking enforcement – I was drawn to your citation management platform. That product intrigued me and it was a natural choice for me because my history in the operations side.
I also wanted to add valuable options for my customers. The main reason I came to Passport was because I needed a product that would help me with my gated solution. We were able to find the nimbleness with Passport. Looking back at why we chose Passport, it was really about the people. Your competitors had some of the same products, but none of the other companies had the people like Passport. It’s been that case ever since – it really starts with the people and the product is great too.