How can one company form a progressive presence in 50 countries around the world? While this question may be daunting, Parker Hannifin Corporation knew early on the answer would come through the strength of autonomy.
International commerce has changed dramatically since Parker's beginnings in 1917, but founder Art Parker's entrepreneurial spirit has continued to guide the company's desire to serve customers locally throughout the last 100 years. With a decentralized management philosophy that empowers general managers to run each divisions' business, strong relationships have resulted to bolster the company's success.
These relationships are a key factor in Parker's strategic global growth, according to President and Chief Operating Officer Lee Banks.
"Ownership within all of our businesses is one of Parker's strengths globally. We know the customers, the technologies and the owners of those we do business with. We've completed roughly 80 acquisitions in the last 10 years. Our ability to acquire companies in our space and integrate them into our culture is one of our strengths—this happens due to a management style and culture that Pat Parker instilled in the company."
During his 52-year career at Parker Hannifin, Pat Parker grew his father's company substantially in size, global reach and product breadth. From the 1960s through the 1990s, Pat guided the company's expansion into a wide array of hydraulic, pneumatic and electromechanical products solidifying its position as the global leader in motion and control technologies. His working career, with the exception of three years as a Naval Officer, was spent at the company nurturing a culture of employee empowerment for cooperation both internally and with Parker's customers.
"Parker is like the United Nations, our ability to successfully roll up companies in our space is due to long-term relationships built with them. As we integrate companies, we're making mindful, important decisions."
Parker's art of acquisition may seem simple from the outside, but each purchase is a result of years of planning. To help support the goals of its customers and those businesses that join the Parker family, the company is growing an e-commerce environment—a vision that Banks describes as a "Google-like" experience. To do this, Parker is tapping into opportunities in e-business, the Internet of Things (IoT) and services such as asset integrity management for new growth across all of its operating Groups.
"We want the Parker Hannifin name to roll off the customer's tongue when it comes to motion and control engineering. How we collaborate within the engineering space will continue to change. Parker will morph around the world to support its customers. As our customers move, we will shift with them."
This e-commerce outreach blended with Parker's established decentralized approach builds on the company's history of relationship building. But, Banks emphasizes it's the impact of the company's products on people that will continue its success.
"Parker touches you in every part of your life. If you're driving a car, flying in a plane, talking on your cell phone or drinking a glass of water, Parker touches it. As much success as we've had, there's still opportunity for enormous amounts of success out there. We have all of the building blocks to do it, and it's a lot of fun—that's what gets me the most excited for our future."
This post is the third in a series of leadership interviews to commemorate Parker's centennial anniversary. To learn more about Parker's history, visit www.parker.com/centennial.