Education, Leadership and Paying It Forward Posted by on Jun 23 2016

Alex Martin Chaves learned the value of a college education early in life.  Although born to parents that had worked in a family owned business their entire lives and not had the opportunity to attend college, his parents taught Alex the value of hard work, good ethics and morals and the significance of a good education.  In 1967, his father, Alex Sr., started Parking Company of America, a parking service company with only one client. Today, PCAM, over fifty years later, that venture has grown into an exceedingly well-respected industry leader providing a myriad of services including parking management, transportation and shuttle services, valet, hospitality, and airport parking  for a multiplicity of businesses,  including health care, hotels, businesses, country clubs and beyond.  With facilities, now, in five states and over 1400 employees, PCAM is one of the few minority owned and operated companies in this industry.  A true family business where Alex, his parents and siblings are all actively involved in the company’s operations and now in its successes.


Having been involved with PCAM since his teenage years, one could surmise that Alex grew up within the industry, and therefore possesses unrivaled insight, exposure and familiarity with its operations and management.  However, in speaking with Alex, he is quick to point out that the strides he has made with the company would not likely have been possible without his parents’ support and his Mother’s prodding hard to complete his education for his sake and that of the business.


As a first generation college graduate, Alex earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Loyola Marymount University (LMU).  He humbly attributes a good portion of his success to the training and education he received in college, and often refers to this as a cornerstone of who he is and what he has accomplished both personally and professionally.  Recognizing the impact the college experience has made in his life, Alex has been actively involved in the LMU community and the LMU Board of Trustees, and continually seeks ways of giving back.  In particular, he has found his involvement with the school’s scholarship board to be a fulfilling experience, as he is not only able to help encourage and enable others to complete their education, but also give back to the community that has been so good to him, his family and their business.


As a businessman, Alex has been a guiding force behind PCAM since the late 1980’s, when as its Chief Executive, his vision and foresight helped steer the company into exponential growth, doubling the company’s size in only three short years. His phenomenal success in business was recognized by the members of the Young President’s Organization (YPO), which eventually welcomed him into their group of young, promising and high achieving business leaders. Alex’s involvement in YPO allowed him to interact with other young leaders, who enthusiastically impart valuable knowledge, skills and insight to all the members of the organization. The mentoring Alex received from other senior YPO members was invaluable and undoubtedly helped open more opportunities for both him and PCAM.


Outside of business, Alex has also been actively involved with a variety of community and charitable organizations including the East Los Angeles YMCA, for which he served as a Board Member, Para Los Niños, an organization that seeks to close the achievement gap for children in poverty, and many other community-based and religious charities.


When asked what comes next for him, Alex mentions that he looks forward to getting more involved with an organization called Smile Train, which helps provide children born with cleft lip and palate with the proper aid and care to enable them to grow up and lead better lives. Alex recognizes that he has been so blessed by kindness of others throughout his life, and working with Smile Trains is one of the ways he can pay it forward. He believes that children just need to be given a fair chance to thrive, and there is no limit to what they can achieve.


If Alex could share some advice to someone just starting out in life or in business, it would be to take time to listen, to develop personal relationships and to not sweat the small stuff. In his experience, most people define leadership as running the conversation, however in doing so, one might fail to listen to other points of view and overlook important parts of the argument. As a leader, if you take a moment to step back, listen and digest what others are trying to communicate, you would be better equipped to respond and move the conversation forward. Additionally, in this day and age of impersonal emails, text messages and remote faceless relationships, Alex has found that cultivating personal relationships with peers, clients and vendors can go a long way. Making that extra effort to personally introduce yourself, and to make that connection, could set the tone for a long and productive business relationship. Furthermore, a good leader recognizes that everyone has something to offer, and it is up to that leader to tap into that strength to utilize it for the greatest good. Finally, a leader must somehow manage to strike the right balance in life and in business and recognize that they cannot control everything.   After years in the business, Alex has come to find that things have a way of working themselves out, and you don’t have to fix everything.   One should try to take some time to sit back and realize that the world will not come to an end if you decide to take some time off to spend time with your family, or watch your son or daughter in that school play or sports game, or do other things that you love.


Alex Martin Chaves is a business leader who was fortunate to be the recipient of so many great opportunities throughout his career. By capitalizing on those opportunities, he helped steer PCAM into what it is today, a successful industry leader with a reputation for excellence. Alex is a hard-working, focused and conscientious leader who recognizes that he is where he is today partly because of the kindness of others, and so he is doing all he can to pay it forward.   He is truly an inspiring leader!