If you’ve ever parked in downtown Raleigh, chances are it was in a lot or deck managed by the McLaurin family.
Now after 70 years of helping people find a place to park, the McLaurins are selling their business to The Car Park of Boise, Idaho. Terms of the deal between the two privately-held companies were not disclosed.
The name McLaurin has been synonymous with parking in the Triangle for decades. In addition to managing thousands of parking spots in downtown Raleigh, the company handles parking for universities, hospitals and other cities around North Carolina and for numerous special events, including the N.C. State Fair, the High Point furniture market and sporting events at UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State University and East Carolina University.
The Car Park’s founder and CEO, Jeff Wolfe, said he doesn’t expect big changes at McLaurin, and that may include keeping the family name.
“We’re going to evaluate that,” Wolfe said. “It’s such a long-standing name in the Raleigh area, we’ll probably keep it.”
The McLaurin Parking Company got its start when founder William McLaurin Sr. began leasing a 65-space lot on South Salisbury Street, behind the Sir Walter Hotel, in the winter of 1948. McLaurin was attending UNC-Chapel Hill on the GI Bill and working afternoons and evenings at the lot to support his new wife when he decided to go into business for himself.
By 1970, the year The News & Observer referred to him as a “Raleigh parking mogul,” McLaurin managed 21 lots with about 3,000 spaces in Raleigh and other cities in the state. In 1986, when four of his children had taken on running the business, the company was managing more than 25,000 spaces throughout the state and was designing parking systems for institutions and handling parking for special events, including a visit by the Concorde to Raleigh-Durham International Airport that year.
As McLaurin’s four children approached retirement, they looked for another company to take over the business and keep it going.
“From a succession planning standpoint, we wanted to make sure that the management and the legacy stayed the same and that our clients were taken of,” said Kristy McLaurin Dixon, president of McLaurin Parking. “And so we looked for a company that had the same culture, the same values, and we think we’ve found that.”
For decades, McLaurin has held a contract to manage parking for the city of Raleigh, which now numbers 8,196 spaces in city parking decks and another 248 in lots. Gordon Dash, the city’s parking administrator, said the contract comes up for renewal every few years and that McLaurin has kept it by offering a good price and by listening to the city’s management goals rather than trying to impose its own.
“Their customer service is really quite rare,” Dash said. “I’ve found them to be exceptionally easy to work with, very professional in their reporting. They’re just straight up-front good people.”
The Car Park will now take over the McLaurin contract with the city and will have to submit a bid before it expires in two years, Dash said.
With the acquisition of McLaurin, The Car Park now provides parking management and transportation services in 10 states. The transaction does not include any real estate, because, Kristy McLaurin said, despite its name appearing on lots around town, McLaurin Parking has never owned one.