Originally Published on Business in Savannah
28 February, 2015
Savannah, GA– Greg Parker speaks of a deep love for the architecture and history that is downtown Savannah.
So when his nationally known convenience store company began to outgrow its Drayton Street headquarters, it surprised no one that he was determined to stay in the Historic District.
“We knew we needed more space, but I wanted to find the perfect building to call home,” said Parker, who opened his first convenience store in Midway in 1976 and has grown Parker’s into a $500 million business.
When he found the historic Philbrick-Eastman House overlooking Chippewa Square, he knew he was home.
Built on one of Savannah’s original trust lots by Irish-born architect Charles B. Cluskey, the house features Doric columns, 14-foot ceilings, elaborate crown moldings and the original oak floors.
“We’ve paid attention to every detail to ensure the restoration of this treasured Savannah building respects its structural history while enabling us to expand our operations right here in the heart of America’s most beautiful city,” Parker said.
With Ralph Kuhn of Kuhn Construction Co. serving as the general contractor, Parker painstakingly renovated the 15,000-square-foot Greek revival mansion into spacious corporate headquarters. Parker’s staff began moving in three weeks ago.
“We’ve come a long way, although we still have work to do,” he said.
It’s a significant expansion from the former Parker’s headquarters, which consisted of 6,000 square feet above Parker’s Market at 222 Drayton St.
The showpiece of the new headquarters is the corporate boardroom that features wildlife murals painted in muted colors by Savannah artist Bob Christian, modern lighting fixtures and an original marble fireplace set off by elaborate woodwork.
Every level of the four-story mansion has its own conference room, with long windows that allow for ample natural light.
With considerably more elbow room, Parker has organized his headquarters into executive offices and team-oriented pods that encourage communication among both teams and corporate divisions.
The main floor houses Parker, his assistant, his chief operations officer and the real estate department. The ground floor, which has its own entrance, is occupied by marketing, IT and store operations. The third level houses accounting, supply logistics, gas pricing, loyalty and human resources.
“The top floor is for expansion,” he said, adding there is room for the current corporate staff of 26 to grow to 38.
And grow it will, as Parker’s plans to add 11 new stores this year.
On the move
Never one to rest on his laurels, Parker learned early on that success doesn’t just happen.
“You have to plan for it,” he said.
Parker’s plans are ambitious, but those familiar with his work ethic and business acumen don’t doubt he’ll accomplish them.
“We are a $500 million company today,” he said. “In five years, we want to be a $1 billion company.”
To get there, Parker is expanding his company’s reach.
“We’re building in Bluffton and Port Royal, Vidalia, Statesboro, Metter and Claxton,” he said.
But it’s not a shotgun approach to growth.
“Basically, we’re building concentric circles around where our brand value has the greatest efficacy,” he said. “For example, we’re not jumping to Charleston. We’re growing to Charleston.”
Most people don’t realize how big the company is, he said.
“We currently do 80,000 transactions a day,” Parker said. “And we are judged on every single one of them. What was the speed of the transaction? Was I greeted when I came in? Was the bathroom clean? The pricing right? Did my credit card scan correctly?
“We’re listening to our customers and making strategic changes to meet their needs,” he said. “When our customers say they want a Parker’s in a particular area, we listen. When they told us they wanted faster transaction times, we adapted our technology to reduce the time spent at the pump and the register.”
But Parker’s No. 1 formula for successful growth is its intellectual capital.
“We’ve always invested in people,” he said. “We’ve grown organically, hiring the best and the brightest and promoting from within. We’ve even retained a corporate coach to help new employees assimilate into our corporate culture.”
Having his company’s corporate headquarters in a beautiful, historic building in the heart of a beautiful, historic city definitely doesn’t hurt the recruiting process, Parker said.
“We’re looking for the very best talent out there,” he said. “We want to give them a great work environment.”
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