By PJ Martin
Being an entrepreneur today is a risky proposition. But you can still find businesses that have stood the test of time and kept going. One such business is Parks Panel Processing and Manufacturing, Inc.
The business is located in the heart of a little town called Summer Shade in what was previously the elementary school buildings.
The business had humble beginning back in 2002 inside a tobacco barn with just 1,400 sq. ft. “It was just me and my father,” said Mark Parks the owner.
In the beginning, Parks was working at Pan Osten and helping his dad too. He eventually left his job in 2004 to work full-time with his father, Doug Parks building custom residential cabinets which they also delivered and installed.
The business was doing well and more space was needed. So that original 1,400 sq. ft. was expanded upon several times until it became around 6,000 sq. ft.
Parks reminisced, “I remember many days and nights me and my father working side by side to produce and fill orders and the next morning him leaving before daylight to deliver orders to Bowling Green, KY or Louisville, KY to get back and help fill more orders.”
When Parks heard about the school location being up for auction, he knew that would be a great location for the business. So in September 2013, he purchased the site and it became the new shop.
By the time it relocated, the company was already building wood products for retail locations such as checkout counters and display cases. Eventually, those orders became so time-consuming that they stopped building residential cabinets and concentrated on commercial orders.
Although it has been quite a while since they built residential cabinets, Parks said, “We still occasionally get a call from someone wanting cabinets built.”
Their work orders come from big box stores and major retail chains to construct display cases, service counters, check-out counters, beverage counters, donut cases in convenience stores, food bars for restaurants, and even specialty projects.
One such special project was a Spanish galleon pirate ship for a theme park, although they were never told the exact park where it was to be located. A rather interesting job was the false façade inside of a business. It was made to look like the inside of a space station or spaceship.
It was so large that it took 25 semi loads to ship it to its location. The customer then painted it to their specifications.
When Covid hit, business slowed down and once they were able to obtain the materials (Plexiglas) they built shields for cashier’s counters.
Today, the business that started with 2 people has grown to 15 employees and in 2019, a warehouse was built. That same warehouse had to be doubled in 2022. The company now occupies approximately 32,000 sq. ft.
According to Parks, the business grew ± 40% in 2021, and so far in 2022, it has grown ± 10 – 20%.
It has grown so much that in 2020, Kyle Bragg was hired as Plant Manager and in April of 2022, Kim Milam was hired as Vice-President of Operations.
Parks states, “I am grateful for the opportunity to be growing. I thank God every day for the opportunity I have to be working and continuing to employ good people. I am also very grateful to our retailers who continue to order our products and our dedicated employees. It is only because of the knowledge God has given me to be able to have the ability to have this business. I give God all the glory.”