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We Have Your Back! By Greg Leean

For some in this industry, the term “consul- tant” can have some negative connotations.

That doesn’t have to be the case! During my career with theMinneapolis-Saint

Paul International Airport (MSP), I used con- sultants many times. You can’t be involved with design and construction of more than 17,000 parking spaces and multiple transit, parking and building-related projects without using the expertise of consultants. The specialized nature of the vari-

ous disciplines that consultants can bring to the table makes them an enor- mous asset to building projects.

From the beginning Like many of you, I started at the

bottom and learned as I worked my way up the ladder. Starting as a vend- ing clerk collecting money from parking meters and pay toilets, I eventually became the Assistant Airport Director/ Landside Operations. There were many stops along the way and vari- ous areas of increasing respon- sibility as time passed. Having a good mentor for

the first few years was a big start, also the opportunity to work with skilled experts in areas such as engineering and architecture helped to build knowledge and allowed the growth needed for a great career path. When we started out in

parking, most of us were pretty green, and I don’t mean that in the currently popular vernacu- lar! We all needed to “cut our teeth” in the operation as we developed skills sets and just plain experience the operation. As business grows, new challenges present them- selves, such as the need for expansion, rate changes, operational changes, advertising and public relations. We aren’t all blessed with the inher-

ent knowledge of every subject in order to plan each expansion and to write each press release or to make each pub- lic presentation.We need the assistance of those who have lived these events before. That is where consultants offer an advantage.


Areas of commonality Running a parking operation, whether it is in a hospi-

tal, university or municipal setting or at an airport means making day-to-day decisions. It also means being respon- sible for tremendous amounts of revenue. There are people to manage, facilities to

clean, signs to be placed, money to be collect- ed, reports to be completed, employees to be hired and fired, and most important of all, customers to be served. There are revenue control systems to

be operated and maintained, and mas- sive capital spending efforts to be planned. And there are headaches, lots of headaches! Although each type of oper- ation is different, there are also certain similarities. The similarities lead us to specialized experts that can help us decide when it is time to expand, how to expand, how to maintain the integrity of what we have, how to upgrade the revenue control sys- tem, and how to advertise the serv- ice that we offer, among many other things. The ability to find special-

ized expert assistance is para- mount to success. These areas of specialty are many.

Specialty expertise Alarge part of the overall

responsibility of engineers and architects involves the design of sustainable struc- tures. This effort is undertak- en through various specialty areas within engineering and architectural service. This area takes a number of forms such as:

1. Engineering Services Structural engineers design the sup-

porting structure and foundations of the multi-level parking structures of today. They ensure the parking structure will stand up to all of the loads from people, vehicles, snow, wind and seismic forces, and other building code requirements. Mechanical engineers design

plumbing and air-handling require- ments. Local and federal requirements need to be adhered to during design, as well as

finding energy-efficient methods of operation. Parking Today

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