Denison Parking acquires boutique valet firm in effort to expand business line

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Indianapolis-based parking operator Denison Parking has acquired local boutique valet parking company SOPHI Global LLC, forming a new subsidiary to help expand its valet and concierge services.

SOPHI Global’s assets will account for the bulk of Denison Mobility LLC, which will be overseen by SOPHI's founders. SOPHI is an acronym for Strategic Operations for Parking and Hospitality Integration.

“We are energized by the opportunity to grow Denison valet services by creating Denison Mobility and bringing in the entire SOPHI Global team,” said Jeff Line, president of Denison Parking. “They will be instrumental in our success as we develop our transportation offerings in the markets we currently serve, and areas of the country we have yet to do business.”

Denison Parking was already managing valet at Indianapolis International Airport and three local hospitals. With its purchase of three-year-old SOPHI, Denison picks up valet operations at the Hilton Garden Inn downtown, IU Health North campus, CharBlue steakhouse, Oceanaire restaurant, the Lucas Oil Estate in Carmel, and the Beach House in Pompano, Florida. 

“We’re in the space, but we’d like to expand, particularly on the restaurant and the hotel side, not just in Indianapolis,” Line said.

Line declined to disclose the terms of the acquisition.

Beyond SOPHI’s clients, Line said the main draw of the deal was bringing in SOPHI Global founders Joshua Casey and Troy Wilkinson.

“We’re acquiring two aggressive young entrepreneurial guys to help us grow our business overall,” Line said.

While seeking to expand its presence in the valet space, Line acknowledges there are industry pressures that have made that more difficult.

“There’s certainly pressure,” Line said, noting the negative impact of ride-sharing services on the valet business. “If you come downtown and intended to have more than one drink, you consider Uber and Lyft. That has driven down the drive-up traffic and driven down the demand. That’s a big impact.”

Denison is trying to counter the decline by broadening its mission from parking to mobility.

“It means the last mile stuff, how can we coordinate and integrate with that last mile [transportation],” Line said. For instance, he said the company is hoping to work with some of the scooter companies that have launched in Indianapolis to possibly arrange a deal to park scooters in Denison garages.

Denison has been in the parking business since the 1940s and is best known locally for its downtown parking garages. It operates 125 parking facilities in eight states and has about 70 facilities in Indiana.

Most of Denison’s work is managing the operations of garages owned by others, but it also owns a few garages and parking lots in Indianapolis, including the downtown Plaza Garage, Merchants Garage, 327 N. Illinois St. garage and the surface parking lot next to Buffalo Wild Wings downtown in the 100 block of East Washington Street.

Line has been president of the firm since May 2017.

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