Although 1974 may pale in comparison to 2020 for most, it was a significant year. President Richard Nixon resigned from office amidst the Watergate scandal. The Sears Tower in Chicago became the world’s tallest building with a height of 1,729 feet. (Today the Burj Khalifa in Dubai holds the record at 2,716 feet.) The average cost of a gallon of gas was $0.42. Daylight saving time ended four months early in response to the energy crisis.
This is also the year that Sue Brenders began working at Park ‘N Fly. Although so much has changed in the 47 years since, the company has been an ongoing constant grounding force in her life despite how the world has transformed in front of our very eyes.
A Note From Sue Brenders, After 47 Years With Park ‘N Fly
“In 1974, I was attending college and desperately wanted to get my first apartment, a place I could truly call my own. I applied for a position at the Cleveland facility that had opened in 1967, which was the second lot opened and operated by the owners, Marty Bloom and Ted Desloge. I got the job and my official job title was “chaufeurette,” and in keeping with the style of the time my uniform included “hot pants” and go-go boots. Almost all of my fellow employees were in their 20s, so we would all go out after work to socialize together. At the time, I had no idea I was forming friendships that would last for decades.
In 1979, I was promoted to the position of cashier. Since there was no management on-site over the weekends at the time, I was responsible for holding down the fort. This is when I finally had the opportunity to become acquainted with our customers, especially the “frequent parkers” who spent their weeks away on business and came home to their families before leaving again for the workweek ahead on Sunday evening. We came to know each other by name, eventually learn all about each other’s families and ultimately become a family of our own—a Park ‘N Fly family comprised of both customers and fellow employees.
In all of my time at Park ‘N Fly, one customer named Luann still stands out. Although I don’t recall how the topic came up one of the many times we saw each other, we ultimately bonded because both of our fathers were ill. Instead of rushing out to get home to her own family, she got out of her car to give me a hug. (I wish we had more opportunities for connections like this in today’s day and age—especially since social distancing measures haven’t allowed since the pandemic began.)
I was promoted to Assistant Manager of the Cleveland facility in 1991. Then in 1988, BCD Holdings (John Fentener von Vlissingen’s family-owned business) acquired Park ‘N Fly and greatly expanded the company’s capabilities and reach. In 2007, I was finally promoted to Lot Manager.
I was raised to have integrity, respect for all people and to keep friends and family close. In my time at Park ‘N Fly, I have worked for two different owners and three CEOs, but the company’s current CEO is my favorite. Tony Paalz and the corporate team he has built has always focused on creating the ideal working environment for employees while optimizing the customer experience. Tony is committed to a family-team atmosphere, and I have always felt that Park ‘N Fly reflects the same values I apply to my personal life, which is why I continued my career path with the company.
In my almost five-decade tenure with Park ‘N Fly, I have received ongoing education in management skills and enjoyed countless awards, gifts, dinners and parties. My work-related travel for the company has included supervising the development of other lots in the system and attending manager meetings in Atlanta, Georgia—which were always educational and full of comradery and celebrations of our success. One year I was among a group of 10 invited to attend the CEO Challenge in New York City. We saw the sites, took in a Broadway show and enjoyed amazing meals—and we even stayed at the Waldorf Astoria! I am also proud to be part of a company that has been an active participant in the global community as a sponsor of the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, the annual Budweiser Grand Prix in Cleveland, the rebuilding of Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and the Special Olympics year after year. A big thank you to Park ‘N fly for all the travel and memories that will last a lifetime.
Over the past 47 years, Park ‘N Fly has supported me financially and emotionally through marriages, divorces, two children, four grandchildren and one great grandchild. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the company, which has been my home away from home for almost three-quarters of my life. Similar to my own personal journey, Park ‘N Fly has survived the ups and downs of tough times and come out strong. We all made it through 9/11 and now we’re navigating our way through the pandemic. I am confident that both I and the Park ‘N Fly family will continue to keep going strong well into future!”