August 5, 2009
‘It’s been a real pleasure over the years:’ Jerry Parks, Jr., ’69 Enjoys Seeing his Multiple Businesses Grow and Expand
This is the sixth in a series of stories profiling Oregon Law alumni whose class reunions occur this fall.
Jerry Parks, Jr., a graduate of Oregon Law’s class of 1969, was close to attending law school elsewhere.
The Tacoma native and University of Washington graduate wasn’t accepted to Oregon Law until August, right before school was scheduled to start. It seemed everyone else he knew had been accepted in April. Despite what could have been construed as a rather ominous sign, Parks had a stellar law school career and managed to graduate fourth in his class, which was no easy task at the time.
“I remember Dean (Orlando) Hollis telling our class that he predicted only half of us would graduate, and he was right! Only half of our class actually graduated.”
Despite Dean Hollis’ frightfully accurate predictions, Parks says he still very much enjoyed the dean.
“Dean Hollis was a lot kinder than his public face led you to believe,” Parks recalls. “Still, he scared the hell out of me sometimes.”
Parks is now the general manager of Holaday-Parks, Inc., one of the largest mechanical contractors in the nation with headquarters in Seattle, Washington, and additional offices in Fairbanks, Alaska. The company specializes in the design, fabrication, installation, and service of mechanical systems, building controls, and architectural metals. The company’s portfolio is extensive, boasting such projects as Seattle’s Bank of America Arena and Fairbanks’ state-of-the-art Eielson Air Force Base Fitness Center.
Holaday-Parks was established in 1889 manufacturing and selling airtight sheet iron heaters. Parks’ father, Jerry Parks, Sr., who first started working for the company in 1929 at age 17, acquired what was then Holaday & Edworthy in the 1950s.
The family business wasn’t Parks’ first stop after graduation, though. He was drafted and became a JAG officer in the Navy, serving as a defense attorney and trying everything from murder to AWOL cases.
“It turned out that I sympathized with the underdog, so I was a defense attorney the entire time, with the exception of serving as a judge in one case and a prosecutor in another,” he recalls. “I ended up volunteering to go to Vietnam and it turned me into an anti-war guy.”
After his time in the Navy and “having the opportunity to see the world,” Parks went on to practice anti-trust and radio and television law at a private firm in Seattle where he worked his way up to partner. In 1978, Parks joined the family business, taking over the management of the company.
“I left private practice so I could follow my own advice, tell lawyer jokes, and no more time sheets,” he jokes. “Seriously, I thought it would be a challenge, and a way to have some independence. That has turned out to be true.”
Following the death of his father in 1984, Parks became president of Holaday-Parks, expanding the company into service and controls, as well as HVAC design, fabrication, and installation. In 1997 Parks assumed the role of Chairman and CEO with his brother, David, taking over as president. After David’s unexpected death in 2007, Parks resumed the role of general manager for the company.
As if running a large company wasn’t enough to keep someone busy, Parks also acquired two resort hotels along the way. The Hastings House, a small luxury country resort, spa, and restaurant, located on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia; and the Hermitage Lodge, nestled in Australia’s wine country.
“My wife and I stayed at the Hastings House several years ago and loved it. When we found out it was for sale in 1995, we bought it up,” Parks says. “After that, the manager from the Hastings House led us to the Hermitage Lodge.”
While running three large businesses may seem like a daunting task to most individuals, Parks notes that the experience has been rather enjoyable.
“My favorite part of what I do is seeing all of the businesses growing. It’s been a real pleasure over the years building up the family business and seeing it grow and prosper. We have more than 600 employees in Seattle now.”
Additionally, Parks notes that his law degree and experience practicing has saved him a lot of money in legal fees throughout the years.
“No one followed my advice when I was practicing,” Parks jokes. “But over the year’s I’ve known when to hire a lawyer and when to just follow my own advice.”
Parks’ own advice also has kept him incredibly active throughout the years. “I just need to keep moving,” he says. An avid boater, Parks enjoys a host of outdoor activities including roller blading, hiking, kayaking, and golf.
“Of course, I’m not good at any of these,” he laughs.