BIRTHPLACE: Lansing, Michigan
EDUCATION: Michigan State University and the School of Hard Knocks
PROFESSIONAL HISTORY: MCAT is the 5th public transit agency for which I have worked. I began as a graphic designer for Orange County Transit Authority in Southern California back in the mid to late 70’s. Since then I’ve worked for SEMTA in Detroit, RTD in Denver, and Metro Transit in Minneapolis/St. Paul. I returned to Denver in the mid 90’s and opened a strategic marketing communications firm which I owned with a partner for nine years until deciding to move to Florida to avoid the snow.
ON THE AWARDS: I do consider the awards, not a personal victory, but a validation that many of Ralf Heseler’s (MCAT’s director) objectives are coming to fruition: being the best transit agency in our class, being a customer oriented transit organization, developing transportation and time management services that are equal in value to the personal automobile, to expand service and service types in our region, and so on. The marketing awards represent MCAT’s efforts as a whole. I have learned over the years that the quickest road to destruction is for marketing to promise something that operations cannot deliver, thereby setting up a customer expectation that is certain to fail. Clearly, at MCAT, we have good synergy between operations and marketing, a rarity, in my experience, in public transit.
BIGGEST SURPRISE IN MARKETING TRANSIT: The constant perception by policy makers and non-riders that public transit is a service for transit dependent, lower economic audiences. While this group is an important target audience, the common stereotype couldn’t be farther from the truth. In every agency with which I have worked, we always carried more white collar workers than any other market group. I’m talking suits with laptops and cell phones. The bottom line is that public transit is not about transportation. It is about time management. If transit can come close to travel times achieved in personal automobiles and it is cheaper due to parking and fuel costs, then people will ride transit regardless of their economic status. New York City is a great example. So my first challenge when joining any transit organization is to re-educate and change internal paradigms regarding public transit as a time management retail product versus a public service for a captive user. Then I address stereotypes with the external target audiences so I can begin the process of getting them to test the service.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE TO MARKET TRANSIT AT MCAT: My biggest challenge to market transit in Manatee County is two-fold. First, I need to acquire appropriate resources for research and product development so service enhancements are based on market driven decisions. Second, I have to consider county policy makers as important a marketing audience as existing and potential riders. MCAT needs to be positioned in the eyes of the policy makers as an effective, efficient, economical and expedient solution to traffic congestion worthy of immediate investment as a companion solution to new roads AND as a preemptive strike, since transit can expand faster and cheaper than road construction.
PERSONAL BACKGROUND: (family, pets, hobbies, pastimes, etc)
I have been married to my lovely wife Julie for 19 years. We enjoy shelling at the beach, driving our 1979 VW Bug convertible with the top down and sipping an occasional martini with blue cheese stuffed olives. I have two adult daughters living in the Southwest U.S. I am an inactive private pilot, instrument rated.
CHILDHOOD AMBITION: As a child I was always looking for ways that I could help others and make someone smile. Little did I know that bringing a smile to one’s face would be so rewarding and fulfilling. I guess this is why I am in the public sector. I truly enjoy servicing the public and being a servant leader.