Roy Nickolai: A Valet State of Mind
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
SAN CARLOS — Like many young people, Roy Nickolai spent his high school years working a typical teenage job as a valet parking attendant. However, even when he left to pursue a more “grown-up” occupation, in his heart, he never left the parking lot. “Growing up in San Francisco, some of my friends had older brothers who valeted at House of Prime Rib, and as we came of driving age, we were able to work our way into the rotation,” he remembers. “After high school, I continued to valet through college to pay my tuition.”
Following college graduation, Roy started working in real estate, but it didn’t give him the same level of fulfillment that his previous job had. “Doing loans and second mortgages was great, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I enjoyed valet,” he explains. “Over time, I got the idea to start my own business. I knew that if I worked as hard as I did at my current job, I would do well. Eventually, I took the leap and started my own valet company, which turned out to be very successful.”
Today, as owner of All About Parking, Roy says his favorite part of his job is the fact that it intersects a broad range of industries and personalities. “Due to the variety of people and businesses that use our service, we get to meet and interact with individuals from all different walks of life, which keeps things interesting. Plus, it allows us to keep a finger on the pulse of the latest trends, as well as the new business and technological developments that are coming up in the Bay Area.”
A San Francisco native, Roy resides today in San Mateo with his wife, Carole, where he appreciates the area’s intrinsic variety. “I think the Bay Area is unique in its level of diversity. Living here, we have access to a really well-rounded lifestyle, including all types of cuisine and entertainment.”
Outside of work, Roy spends his time engaged in a variety of active pastimes, including sports, food and music. “I’ve always loved sports—I played several sports in high school, but these days it’s mostly golf and tennis,” he says. “I’m also a foodie and I enjoy entertainment, especially going to concerts.” Additionally, Roy likes spending time with his family, including his son, Nate, who is currently an English major at UCLA. “We have a huge family, all local, so we do a lot of family gatherings, which is really nice.”
In his life and career, Roy espouses the importance of investing in the youth. “All my adult life, I’ve been passionate about empowering young people, whether through coaching and volunteering or as an employer,” he explains. “I really try to invest in my employees’ personal and professional development by teaching them about respect, responsibility, and leadership. That way, whatever direction they choose to go later, I know they’ll walk away from here with some valuable life skills and character development.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Roy says he’d take a trip. “I don’t really see myself retiring because I truly love what I do and have a vision of growing it to new levels. However, if did retire, I would certainly travel. I’d probably start by taking my wife and son on a trip somewhere we all want to go.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What was your first car?
A: A 1969 Volkswagen Beetle.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Probably Japan. I’ve done a lot of traveling, but that’s one place I haven’t visited yet.
Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: The San Francisco Giants.
Q: Do you consider yourself a dog person or a cat person?
A: Definitely a dog person—we have a beautiful little Corgi named Payton.
Q: What’s your favorite snack?
A: Cheese and crackers.