Bill Lerner Discusses Growing a Family Business
Veteran of the parking industry with over 40 years of experience, Bill Lerner has transformed his family business—iPark, to become New York’s largest, leading garage and parking facilities owner/operator. Formerly known as Imperial Parking Systems, iPark has been at the forefront of revolutionizing the parking industry by adapting the newest technologies and creating a customer-centric environment. Under his leadership as owner and CEO, the company is set to continue growth and to expand into markets outside of the New York metropolitan area, paving the way into a national industry key player.
The family enterprise was established under the name of Lerner Parking Services by Bill Lerner’s father in the 1960s who ran a gas station on Center Street and saw a market opportunity in the increasing need for parking space for people who commuted by private vehicle to work in New York during the day. Once created, the business grew in parallel with the growth and expansion of the city. When Bill took over operations from his father in 1978, the company had 12 parking garages across the city and has since expanded to over 130 locations. To support the customer experience and to contribute to eco-friendly practices, iPark have partnered with Tesla Motors, Inc. and CarCharging to bring charging stations for electric and hybrid cars to over 30 garages. Computerization, passion for business, strategic planning and most importantly the dedication to provide the best service to customers have been fundamental elements of this success.
According to a Harvard Business School study, 70% of family-owned businesses are sold or fail before ever getting a chance to be handed over to a second generation. One of the main reasons is typically the fact that these type of enterprises are run by the same individuals for a long period of time and as a result are no longer able to adapt to changing shifts in customer behavior, technological progress and the ever so evolving competitive business environment. To compete in the parking industry under these conditions, Bill Lerner had to quickly adjust to being proactive, multi-faceted and to maintain a clear vision for the company’s growth. At the core of his strategy was developing a company that provides the best possible customer care experience using modern day technologies, values its staff and showcases exemplary work ethics. Mr. Lerner attributes his success to his father’s instinctual ability to understand and identify trends directly affecting the industry and instilling in him the idea that “being prepared, and avoiding conformity and complacency, were key to business survival”.
Bill Lerner graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in Business, before officially joining the family business. In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, Mr. Lerner has established an award winning charitable organization, Billy4Kids, working to provide shoes to underprivileged children from across the world to foster a safer environment to live and play. His achievements as an entrepreneur and devotion to charitable work has been previously featured by CNBC, The Atlantic, Radio America, 33 Voices and Leaders Magazine among others.
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