Owen Sanford has been with Premier Parking since 2012 and hasn’t looked back since. Starting as a flagger in Nashville, she has climbed the ranks to company executive, and now oversees Premier’s Nashville, Memphis, St. Louis, Louisville and Indianapolis portfolios. Her story is telling of the importance of hard work and dedication.
Back in 2012, I was a 19-year-old kid that still lived with my parents. I had just moved back to Nashville and needed a job. At the time, a few of my friends, including the one and only Ryan Hunt, were working at this local parking company, Premier Parking. After some searching, I gave Ryan a call and asked if there were any potential opportunities for me to pick up some hours at Premier while I looked for something else. (To me, this piece of info is important because I don’t think any of us ever thought we would end up in parking.)
Ryan let me know I could come fill out an application, so off I went. I was hired by our Operations Manager at the time as a special event flagger. Lucky for me there was an opening for an attendant position at Icon Garage in the Gulch that popped up right after I was hired, and I took the opportunity. I began working the 3pm-11pm shift, and very quickly saw the need to change things up a bit. I made new maintenance check lists for both shifts, organized the garage office, created a preventative maintenance checklist for the PARCS equipment, and picked up a whole lot of cigarette butts. Eventually, I was promoted to first shift.
After a few months at Premier, I was invited to apply for an office position answering phones and doing some administrative work. I was PUMPED. I got an interview with William Clay, our CFO at the time, and one of the managers. I was so nervous, because I had never really had what I thought of as an “adult” job, and I just knew that I wasn’t going to get it. Sometime within the next few days, I got a call back for a second interview, this time with William and Ryan Chapman, one of Premier’s co-founders and then-CEO. The kicker here was that the only time they could see me for the interview was about 20 minutes after my shift ended in the Gulch, so I brought my interview outfit to work with me and rushed to the Exxon on Broadway to change and get ready for my interview. I arrived early (by some miracle) and landed the position!
I was only in the position for a few months when Ryan Hunt made the decision to take his talents to Houston, so the Account Specialist torch got passed to me. It’s really funny to look back on how this position has evolved, because back when I was in this role EVERYTHING was manual. I opened every piece of mail, manually posted every check, and physically scanned each check on the check scanner at my desk (I had 4 at one point for Nashville, Austin, Houston, and Knoxville). I also hand-folded and stuffed every single invoice to be mailed, which included counting out the appropriate number of paper hangtags for each account. It’s hard to imagine that not that long ago we were that small! Needless to say, I helped implement several process changes that helped us step our game up from an efficiency standpoint.
Over the next few years, I continued to climb the ladder to Account Manager, then Area Manager, then Operations Manager (shout out to former GM Lisa Sprouse and those late-night emails), and then the General Manager of Nashville, our largest portfolio. Today, I am a Divisional Vice President overseeing five markets, and it all started with a flag and a job that I didn’t think I needed. I can’t begin to list all of the lessons I have learned at Premier, but the best summary I can give is our company’s core values:
Integrity. Doing the right thing for myself, my fellow employees, my company, and our clients, always. Even when it is easier not to.
Tenacity. I always raised my hand, even when a question wasn’t asked. Here at Premier, that is noticed. Leadership sees the hard work, recognizes the long hours, and appreciates every ounce of dedication that gets put into your work. I was and still am constantly inspired by my team to be better and to work smarter.
Relationships. Reach across the table and get involved inter-departmentally; build the foundation with your team. Pick up the phone and call your client. Better yet, go see them! This company has experienced such growth because of how much we care about our clients as people, not just a source of revenue.
Ready to join a company you can grow with? Come join our team and see where you career takes you!