How did Airport Parking Reservations get its start? The answer was published this week in an article by Jaclyn Stevenson in BusinessWest, a magazine published in Western Massachusetts.
In the story Guy Piccolo, one of the company’s owners and the owner of Executive Valet Parking in Suffield CT is profiled. It tells the story of how his dad, Domenico, the owner of a pizza shop in Windsor Locks, kept seeing people walk by the shop with suitcases, heading for the newly opened Bradley Airport in the early 1970s.
“When the parking lots at the airport were full, people would actually park their cars on the soft shoulder of the highway and walk in,” said the younger Piccolo.
With a vacant lot in his possession, his father capitalized on the overflow. He started by waving cars onto the land, and later shuttling travelers to and from the airport in a bright yellow microbus.” Guy Piccolo thought he might take time off from his father’s business after he died in 1975, but it was not to be.
“I thought I wanted to take some time off or try something new, but that only lasted about six months,” Piccolo said with a laugh, noting that he sold Piccolo Valet Parking to a national parking outfit in 1997, only to purchase the existing Executive Valet Parking in Suffield in 1998. He pulled two partners into the venture: Tom Lombardi, former marketing manager at Piccolo Valet; and Bob Bielecki, an IT professional who soon found an intriguing niche in the business.
This trio went on to form the national airport parking company we know today as APR.
Instead of merely augmenting his first Web site, however, Piccolo decided to make a bigger move, further integrating technology into the Executive Valet business model. He purchased dozens of domain names related to airport parking and Bradley Airport specifically, such as bradleyairportparking.com, and other variations. All of these URLs directed customers to Executive Valet, and by the early years of this decade, the site was bringing in about $10,000 a month in sales.
That got Piccolo thinking again.
“I thought, if this works here, this could work everywhere,” he said. Today you can make reservations at all major US airports, more than 200 lots in more than 65 different cities.