The choice between taking a job at an American multinational corporation with an iconic product, or a position with an equally impressive company who has quietly led the world in motion and control technology for 100 years could be difficult. While the choice in favor of fanfare may seem obvious for some, looking beyond the evident can often make dreams a reality.
This is the case for Parker's Engineered Materials Group President Jennifer Parmentier.
"I had actually accepted a job at Nike, but when I talked with some people who worked at Parker's Sporlan Division in my hometown, they spoke very strongly about what a friendly company it was to work for. They said there was a lot of accountability but there was also a lot of freedom.
"The Sporlan Division's general manager called and convinced me to come to Parker. It was probably the best decision I've ever made."
Parker's footprint is built on entrepreneurship. From its beginnings in 1917, founder Art Parker, and then his son Pat instilled a decentralized management approach to empower general managers to run each divisions' business. Even as Parker has grown through acquisitions worldwide, the company stays true to its roots of autonomy.
One example of how Parker's culture complements each acquisition was the purchase of Sporlan Valve Company in 2004. Sporlan was known as the market leader in refrigeration and air-conditioning components, controls and systems, and Parker had been interested in acquiring the company for years. The potential for growth through the Sporlan acquisition was the primary focus, but Parker kept close to its newest family member by maintaining its identity originating in the 1930s with a thoughtful integration strategy.
"While Parker is headquartered in Cleveland, we were able to do our own thing at Sporlan in Washington, Missouri, while being encouraged to develop products to make us stand out and add value where our competition can't."
Parmentier credits Parker's Win Strategy™ for driving excellence in product commercialization through the Winnovation process for the continued success at Sporlan and throughout each of Parker's businesses.
From this strategy, Parmentier witnessed the development of ideas that were pivotal for the corporation as she progressed from Parker Sporlan's Plant Manager and then Business Unit Manager.
"The wireless gauge set [SMART Service Tools] is a very intuitive product that was a game changer for contractors out in the field."
Sporlan's SMART Service Tools are lightweight wireless sensors that conveniently sync with a smartphone app, enabling HVAC technicians to read a system's real-time pressure and temperature without using hoses or manifold gauges. The data can then be exported to keep on file for later use.
"Products like that bring real value – where it's not just the engineers or sales people figuring out the customer's needs – it's product managers and customer service people talking to the end user."
In her current role with the Engineered Materials Group, Parmentier is once again impressed by Parker's continually evolving innovation.
"I had no idea how specialized our sealing and shielding recipes are for virtually every application. We have anything from your standard O-ring, to spray-on thermal management type applications coming from our Chomerics Division."
This diversity in application is a passion that drew Parmentier to Parker, and continues to drive her own professional growth.
"I've never seen so much passion for staying on top of technology as what I've seen at Parker. When you do business with Parker, it's like gaining a life-long friend. It's a supplier partnership you can count on."
This post is the eighth in a series of leadership interviews to commemorate Parker's centennial anniversary. To learn more about Parker's history, visit www.parker.com/centennial.
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