From ‘I Didn’t Know What the Hell I Was Doing’ to ‘Catbird Seat’

Originally published in CSP Magazine
27 January, 2015

 

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Greg Parker, president and CEO of convenience store retailer The Parker Cos., told Savannah CEO how the company got off the ground, and his involvement in it from pumping gas to flipping burgers.

He said that in 1975, his father was building a convenience store in Midway, Ga., and the project was taking longer than it should. Just out of college, Parker took over the project, completed it, and began operating the store.

“I’m good at a lot of stuff,” he told the publication, “and I’m really not good at a lot of stuff, too.” He drove a wrecker, cleaned windshields, pumped gas and ran a restaurant in the back of the shop.

“I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. …Our success has been much more about ‘sticktoitiveness’ than about some grand idea,” he said.

“We think we’re the fastest-growing company in our industry in terms of organic growth as opposed to acquisition,” he continued. “We’re growing at around 34% a year.”

How did they do it? “We’ve been surrounded by this pool of incredibly talented people—incredibly hard working—[that view] this business as their business,” said Parker.

Savannah, Ga.-based Parker Cos. just opened its 34th convenience store, with two more about to open and 17 on the drawing board.

He also discussed how and why the company decided to keep expanding during the downturn in the economy. “Now is the perfect time to be growing,” he said. “We’re in the catbird seat.”

 

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