SBDC Client Spotlight - D. Parker & Sons

This Black History Month we had the opportunity to chat with long-time entrepreneur and SBDC client John Parker, owner of D. Parker & Sons. In 1978, John took over the construction business started by his grandfather in 1911. John's energy and pioneering spirit are a tribute to his business philosophy of keeping things simple and knowing when to bob and weave, Joe Louis style. 

Shortly after incorporating D. Parker & Sons in 1978, the business successfully applied for Minority-owned Business Enterprise (MBE) Certification. John’s eldest daughter Hillary worked on D. Parker & Sons' certifications for NYC contracts during this time and the firm successfully won many high-profile projects. John’s advice to other Minority/Women-owned Businesses: “Certification is a great way to earn money in the state and government procurement process. It is to your advantage.”

“John Parker has been a Stony Brook SBDC client since 2018 which has allowed me the opportunity to support him and his business and get to know him personally along the way!” said Bob Harrison, Senior Business Advisor at the Stony Brook University SBDC. “We've collaborated with him on MBE Commodities updates to expand the construction materials his firm bids on as well as the transition planning for the next generation of the firm's leadership." John is currently working with his youngest daughter Pamela and nephew Melvin on the transition to the next Parker generation to serve their customers — and is looking forward to adding to the 110-year business history. "When John retires, which we hope isn’t too soon, we look forward to continuing to collaborate and support D. Parker & Sons," continues Harrison. 

John let us know when he needed business help, he appreciated that the SBDC was always there, noting “I know if I need anything, I can call the Stony Brook office.” We asked about additional resources he utilized to make his business a success and John shared, “Whatever your business is, join the industry association. Get involved in local associations. Especially those that do government work and require MWBE firms.” 

“We do business the way business should be done. It’s our reputation” says John. “The majority of our business comes from repeat customers and through customer referrals.” John holds onto an original D. Parker & Sons business card, a keepsake to remind him of his grandfather's main principle to “pay your bills” and the company’s long, resilient history. John’s ideals and entrepreneurial spirit have had a positive impact on the family business throughout his tenure. D. Parker & Sons has completed many construction projects – both multi-year and short-term - throughout New York State. It has also supplied materials to other contractors, including for work done in partnership with Stony Brook University.

Having grown up during the latter part of the Great Depression, John’s interest in business stemmed from entrepreneurship as a means of survival. The many business ventures and jobs he undertook offered additional income to support his family. When asked for advice today, John often finds himself quoting Churchill, “Never, never, never, never, never, never, ever give up.”


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