Since Parker’s founding 100 years ago, the company has prided itself on cultivating an environment that values long-term team members and their unique contributions—with typical career tenures spanning 20 years and beyond.
The company’s overall mission of “Engineering Your Success,” is not only about the technical expertise provided to customers, but the ways in which Parker can personalize the success of 49,000 team members worldwide. An enduring culture of decentralization that provides engagement opportunities for each team member is a foresight founder Art Parker initiated in 1917, and his son Pat Parker continued throughout his 52-year career at the company.
Today, its culture is what continues to set Parker apart, and one of the primary reasons the company is the world’s leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, according to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tom Williams.
“Parker’s culture is what attracts people to the company and why they stay. Our team members feel like their work has a positive impact when they see the results our products and technologies enable.
“A Parker person is both competitive and compassionate. They are competitive with a will and desire to win; they’re resilient, determined and focused. They are also compassionate in that they care about each other, their customers and the communities they live and work in. It’s a very powerful combination.”
Parker’s unique collection of motion and control capabilities sets the company apart from any other in its industry. By specializing in a broad set of technologies, Parker’s experts thrive on solving problems by delivering unmatched systems capabilities around the world. Williams also recognizes Parker’s distribution channel as another long-term competitive advantage for the company.
“Our basket of products and breadth of technologies allow us to do what nobody else can. If you look at our products, a very high percentage of all those we ship have intellectual property wrapped around them. Either in a patent, trade secret, or the process and material science that makes the product valuable.
“We’ve worked for decades to build distribution and our channel is second to none. We have a head start on everybody else, and we want to continue to have a head start globally.”
Parker’s portfolio of technologies including hydraulics, automation, fluid connectors, instrumentation, filtration, engineered materials and aerospace, speaks to servicing a wide array of customers.
“Sixty percent of our customers buy from four or more of our seven operating groups. Our suite of technologies is interrelated in a very positive fashion for our customers.”
With a long history of performing well in good and bad times, the company’s ability to be relatively consistent is a direct result of each generation of leadership - and Parker’s worldwide team - working to take the company to the next level, explains Williams.
“That’s the expectation people have of me. That’s what we expect every Parker team member to do—to think about how they can continue to raise the company up.”
To help guide the company into the future the Parker Win Strategy™ was rolled out in 2001. An initiative created and organized by then CEO Don Washkewicz, the strategy was a way to implement proven tools to drive operational excellence and growth by empowering team members and focusing on profitable growth. Due to the strategy’s success, Williams refreshed the strategy with new measures of success and a renewed focus on the company’s most important asset: its people.
“The new Win Strategy is about engaging people first. We talk about safety within this, but the whole essence of engaged people is to create owners. I want team members to be owners of their respective team, their cell, their office or whatever operation they’re a part of.
“If everybody thinks and acts like an owner, the company’s performance will be lifted up dramatically. At every Parker location I’ve visited, I’ve encouraged engagement and a high-performance team process. That’s how Parker is going to stay around for the next 100 years.”
This post is the first in a series of leadership interviews to commemorate Parker's centennial anniversary. To learn more about Parker's history, visit www.parker.com/centennial.