Planning for Strategic Growth

Greg Parker on his plans for the next decade and how he intends to become a multibillion-dollar company.

By
Greg Parker, President and CEO

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This story begins with the incalculable value of my study group. With the best intent at heart, we challenge each other to become more strategic, more thoughtful and more creative in our approach to business. Founded by Western Washington University economics professor David M. Nelson, this approach has helped Parker’s reach remarkable levels of success.

Several months ago, Quinn Ricker, president of Ricker Oil, did a deep dive into the Parker’s financials and found little to improve, because we have the highest profit per store of any group contributing data to CSX.

With that, he focused on our balance sheet and asked me some hard questions: Where do we want to be in five years? What do we want our company to look like? What is our desired level of growth and our appetite for risk?

Quinn presented these questions—and many more—at our study group meeting, facilitated by Quinn and his mentor, Rick Deneau. They then traveled to Savannah, Ga., to discuss their ideas about growth at Parker’s with our executive team. They challenged us to dig deeper, think bigger and take the necessary steps to grow strategically.

Their challenge really resonated with my team and me. Given our strong debt-to-equity ratio, our negative break-even cents per gallon and the fact that we have approximately as much cash on hand as we have debt, we decided to make a commitment to grow Parker’s in a more robust and aggressive manner.

I want to grow Parker’s from a $500-million company to a multibillion-dollar company over the next decade. My goal isn’t to achieve a specific number of stores by a particular date. Instead, I’m looking for a steady 20% return on investment for every dollar spent and am planning to operate the most profitable stores possible. I’m determined to move Parker’s from the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America to the elite Inc. 500 list, underscoring our position as a national business leader.

Growth, by definition, involves challenges and risks. What is the smartest strategy for preparing for strategic growth? What are the steps involved in preparing for a major expansion? How can a company expand without sacrificing core values or compromising brand strength?

Increasing Bench Strength

The first step in preparing for growth is to improve your bench strategy. I’m a firm believer that no company can succeed without having a strong team in place.

That’s why as we prepare for strategic growth over the next several years, we’re hiring the industry’s best—controllers, directors of operations, HR experts, IT wizards, directors of foodservice, directors of facilities and maintenance, loyalty program managers, category managers, merchandising managers, supervisors and store managers—to expand our team. We offer great career opportunities for the right “Type A” leaders who want to take their career to the next level.

We currently have 400 employees and are relocating our corporate headquarters in Savannah to prepare for our expansion. However, more important is that we’re changing our mindset to accommodate thoughtful, strategic growth.

I’m confident the Parker’s paradigm will work on a grander scale, benefiting our customers as well as our employees. We’ve developed an incredibly successful business model, which has been well received across the board, based on our companywide commitment to quality and customer service.

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