Keith B. Jones is the Owner & Managing Partner of Ace Parking. Founded in 1950, Ace Parking is the largest and most prestigious family owned parking company in North America. Mr. Jones has led the corporate strategy, operations and moral compass for Ace Parking since 2004.
Jones is responsible for the strategic and creative vision of the company, along with ensuring the company’s growth and profitability. Keith B. Jones is passionate about honoring and improving his family’s business for Ace’s clients and valued team members.
We interviewed Keith about his experience growing Ace Parking and we’re sharing his responses here today.
ParkingExec (PE): Your grandfather started Ace Parking over 60 years ago. Did you always want to get involved in the family business?
Keith Jones (KJ): From the time of elementary school onward, I have been involved with my family’s business: Ace Parking. Back then, I would separate tickets by color and rate. I guess you could say that I was a Parking Auditor!
Throughout the remainder of my schooling years, I worked at large special events like MLB, NFL, NBA and NCAA games at facilities for which Ace Parking had the parking management contracts.
My passion for managing the flow of people into & out of places came from my grandfather and father who taught me how to study and improve upon the art of special event parking.
PE: Based on what I’ve read on your personal website you like to stay involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. I see that you even have your personal contact information listed on the company website. Why is it so important to keep yourself accessible?
KJ: Being approachable, available to, and reliable for my team and clients are among my top priorities. I believe that this accessibility sets the tone for the type of leader one is. Company culture is very important to me. If I expect my company and facilities to be approachable, available, and reliable, then I better be as well!
Lead by being the leader you would want to have and conduct yourself as you would want your team to conduct themselves when they are wearing their Ace branded uniform.
As a family company that started in Southern California back in 1950, over time we’ve learned that there truly is a difference when you have an owner who is involved and hands-on. Nowadays, my competition in the parking industry across North America are all faceless companies interested in their stock price and financial returns for their investors.
My goal is simple – be the best in the parking industry and pass this business onto my children.
PE: What does an average day of work look like for you?
KJ: My days are always busy. I love to work and be involved. I wake up early, go to the gym, then play with my daughter and am then in the office before 8am. My day is 100% focused on taking care of my clients, as well as clearing obstacles that are interfering with my team from executing their goals and responsibilities at Ace Parking.
I spend a lot of time on the road as well, as Ace Parking has operations in almost 30 markets from coast to coast across North America.
PE: How would you describe your management style? What can other parking leaders learn from you?
KJ: My management style is always evolving, as I am always learning how to become a more dynamic leader and business owner. I love to read, listen and learn about the latest innovations and technologies so that I can apply them at Ace Parking. My objective for myself is to be always gracious, ethical and humble.
PE: Something that makes Ace Parking unique is that you partner with over 50 philanthropic organizations. How has that program developed over time?
KJ: My family believes it is important to be good stewards of the communities in which we do business and to be a good corporate citizen. Ace Parking is involved with many philanthropic organizations, as I wish to continue the tradition that both of my grandfathers and my father taught me to put community before self.
It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to use the platform and visibility of Ace Parking as a way to bring awareness to important causes.
PE: What is one philanthropic partnership that you are particularly excited about? Why?
KJ: Since 2014, a cause that Ace Parking has embraced is called PARK FOR PINK. It’s intended to continue as an annual program designed to raise awareness, generate funds and motivate the community to help find a cure for cancer and support those who are struggling with the disease.
This public campaign began with a private struggle, as PARK FOR PINK was actually inspired by my own family’s fight against cancer, as well as the many team members in our larger Ace family who are either directly or indirectly affected by this disease.
PE: I also see that environmental sustainability is very prominent on the Ace Parking website. What is the biggest Green initiative you are working on currently?
KJ: Innovative and environmentally progressive facility maintenance programs are important to Ace Parking. We are routinely offering new options to our clients and facilities to embrace environmentally sustainable practices. Ace Parking has an internal company-sponsored committee focused on green initiatives and how best to incorporate them into our parking operations.
We focus on innovative and environmentally progressive elements companywide to make a positive impact, such as with our uniform choices, cleaning methods, lighting, and paper products.
PE: The parking industry is experiencing a technological boom, with new hardware and software developing constantly. How have you successfully leveraged new tech in your operations?
KJ: Ace Parking is leading the parking industry through creative thinking and innovation implementation. Over the past five years, we have more than quadrupled our IT resources and budget.
This purposeful focus on creativity and innovation has distinguished Ace Parking as the technologically advanced parking company in the industry.
We have developed and deployed new modern systems that focus on cash collection controls, internal and client reporting methods that make it easier to be transparent in real-time, online marketing and monthly parking options for our facilities that have increased parking income and make it easier for our customers to access parking stalls.
Our efforts to pursue, develop and embrace new technology are an intentional and daily focus.
PE: Do you feel like there are still those who are resistant to the shift towards technology in the parking industry? How would you respond to them?
KJ: Most parking companies don’t live up to their promises of technology. They just produce a bunch of glossy photos that their marketing departments generate. It’s too bad, but it’s true!
PE: What do you think will be the biggest change in the parking industry in the next five years?
KJ: Changes in our everyday culture will continue to affect and dictate changes in the parking industry. Mobile based GPS, payment, and access will continue to broaden the way we park. Gates and tickets will slowly become a thing of the past.
PE: What piece of advice would you give someone just starting their career in parking?
KJ: Come and work with a family-owned parking company that is dedicated to preserving and improving its legacy of being the best parking company in the industry. You can have a real career at Ace Parking. If you promise to live up to our company motto of “Every Thank You Earned,” I promise to be the best leader you will ever work with and for. Together, a tight-knit team is unstoppable.