Nathan Heddleston is a Senior Manager for a large operations company, where he has worked since 2017. He oversees campus parking operations and previously oversaw transportation, parking, and valet operations for various clients in Cleveland, Ohio, including University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University, and Courtyard by Marriott, as well as Akron Children’s Hospital. Nathan started as a Facilities Manager before being promoted to Senior Facility Manager and eventually Senior Manager and Director in 2019.

Before joining his current company, Nathan had a notable career as a track and field coach at the University of Mount Union. There, he led his teams to multiple NCAA National Championships. He was recognized multiple times as the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Coach of the Year.

Nathan was born on May 10, 1979, in Parma, Ohio, and was raised in East Liverpool, Ohio. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Education from the University of Mount Union, where he was also a two-time Ohio Athletic Conference Champion. Nathan furthered his education by earning a Master of Arts from Nova Southeastern University.

In his personal life, Nathan resides close to his position in Akron, Ohio, and enjoys an active lifestyle that includes running, weightlifting, golfing, but most of all, being a father. His career and personal interests reflect his dedication to leadership, education, and physical fitness.

How did you get started in this business?

I started my career as a track and field coach at the University of Mount Union, where I led my teams to multiple NCAA National Championships. Coaching taught me valuable leadership and organizational skills. Transitioning to a career in operations, I began as a Facility Manager. In this role, I managed parking operations and learned the intricacies of the parking and transportation industry. My experience and dedication led to my promotion to Senior Manager. This journey has been shaped by continuous learning and adapting to new challenges.

How does your company make money?

My company makes money through management fees by providing comprehensive parking and transportation management services. We manage parking facilities, offer valet services, and handle ground transportation logistics. My role as a Senior Manager involves overseeing these operations and ensuring efficiency. By optimizing resource allocation and implementing cost-saving measures, I help the company maximize profitability, often taking over operations that were run as loss leaders and instituting sound business practices. I also focus on enhancing customer satisfaction, which drives repeat business and long-term contracts.

How does your company go about acquiring new customers?

We acquire new customers through a combination of strategies. We have a dedicated business development team and regional personnel that builds relationships with potential clients. We also use targeted advertising to reach businesses and institutions that need parking and transportation services. Attending industry conferences, particularly IPMI, which I recently attended for the first time, and networking events helps us stay connected with key decision-makers. Additionally, we leverage our reputation for reliability and innovation to attract new clients through word-of-mouth referrals.

How did you work your way up in this business?

I began as a Facility Manager, managing daily operations and ensuring smooth parking services. My attention to detail and ability to solve complex problems quickly gained recognition. After one year, I was promoted to SFM and after two years, I was promoted to Senior Manager. In this role, I took on more responsibilities, such as overseeing transportation and valet services for major clients, but more importantly began to work on the business and client relations side of the industry. Each position allowed me to build on my skills and demonstrate my capability to handle more significant challenges.

What made you want to work in this industry?

I was inspired by the opportunity to make a tangible impact on urban infrastructure and community convenience. Working in parking and transportation allows me to combine my organizational skills with my passion for creating efficient systems. The industry is dynamic, with constant innovations in technology and logistics. This keeps the work exciting and fulfilling. My background in coaching also influenced my desire to work in a field where strategic planning and teamwork are crucial.

What is it that you feel makes you good at your job?

I believe my strong organizational skills and attention to detail make me effective in my role. Keeping one short to-do list and one longer-term goal list keeps me moving forward whether I am slammed or have a little bandwidth.  Strong communications help me manage my team and interact with clients effectively. Additionally, I am adaptable and open to new technologies and methods, which is essential in an industry that is constantly evolving.

My background in sports coaching has instilled a sense of discipline and the ability to motivate others. Recently, in a morning huddle with my team, I was connecting a new initiative we had with an old track story and just randomly teared up. I couldn’t control it and felt a little embarrassed, but later, my Director of Operations came to me and said that he found it really inspiring. I miss coaching so much, so I just treat my current role as another opportunity to coach… and to talk about actual coaching.

What are the perks of working in this type of business?

One of the perks is the opportunity to work on projects that directly impact urban living. It’s satisfying to see how improved parking and transportation can enhance the quality of life in a community. The industry also offers a variety of roles, from operations to technology management, providing diverse career paths. Additionally, there’s a sense of stability, as the need for parking and transportation solutions is constant.

What are the disadvantages of working in this field?

One of the main disadvantages is the demanding nature of the job. Managing parking and transportation can require long hours, especially during peak times or special events. The industry is also highly competitive, which can be stressful. Additionally, staying up-to-date with the latest technologies and regulations requires continuous learning and adaptation.

What’s the most rewarding part of your work?

The most rewarding part of my work is seeing the positive impact our services have on clients and the community. It’s fulfilling to know that our efforts make transportation smoother and more efficient for many people. I also enjoy the challenge of solving complex logistical problems and finding innovative solutions. Watching my team grow and succeed is another highlight of my job.

To connect this question back to the last question, my newest operation has extremely detailed reporting and analytical requirements. I didn’t think I was going to like that. I had heard about the challenges of our sister operation in putting together their monthly and quarterly reports, but I have turned out to thrive on it. It has helped me place a firm grasp on the operation, and the detailed scrutiny has motivated me and my team to work to make our operation perfect. It’s far from it right now, but this has motivated us; with some exciting new tech potentially on the way, we might just get there.

Where is your industry headed? What excites you about the future of this line of work?

The industry is moving towards greater integration of technology, such as smart parking systems and automated vehicles. These advancements will make parking and transportation even more efficient and user-friendly. I’m excited about the potential for using data analytics to improve services and predict trends. The focus on sustainability and eco-friendly practices also opens up new opportunities for innovation.

What advice do you give people who want to get into your field of work?

My advice is to gain a solid understanding of both the operational and technological aspects of the industry. Internships or entry-level positions can provide valuable hands-on experience. Networking is also crucial; attend industry events and connect with professionals. Stay curious and open to learning, as the field is constantly evolving. Finding a mentor can provide guidance and accelerate your career growth.

Moving up in this industry can be easier than in others. People don’t think of operations as alluring as, say, tech, but in a lot of ways it is a tech industry. With the ability to work hard and a little bit of polish, moving up in operations can be much easier than other fields.

Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?

Yes, I am willing to be a mentor. Interested individuals can contact me through my LinkedIn profile or via my website at I look forward to helping others navigate their careers in this dynamic industry.

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