While we took the name The Parkes Companies in 2005, our beginnings and history began years before. The dream started for Joe Parkes, Sr. in 1950 with the loss of his father at the early age of 42. William Parkes had started and built a construction company in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, named Parkes Construction. Perhaps foreshadowing The Parkes Companies’ future success in cinema construction, William Parkes’ final project was the Lawrenceburg Theatre. At the time of his father’s death, Joe Sr. was in high school and his brother in college, both were too young to carry on the company and it was closed down.
Joe, Sr. completed college at Vanderbilt University with a degree in Civil Engineering and began his career as a staff engineer with the State of Tennessee, designing bridges. Construction ran in his blood, however, and he soon left to work with an old high school friend, Jim Gilmore at his design build construction firm fulfilling projects for major retail clients in the Southeast. He later left to join an old college friend, Hall Hardaway, at Hardaway Construction Company and rose to the position of Vice President. But construction was not the only thing that ran in his blood, so did the dream of owning and building a company as his father had.
In 1978, with Joe, Jr. in college at Vanderbilt, Gary preparing to enter Vanderbilt and David in high school, Joe, Sr. decided it was his time to strike out on his own. He joined with a partner to start R. P. Industries, Inc. Joe, Sr. started with a $20,000 loan from his partner and $20,000 of his partner’s money. His wife, Patsy, went back to work and the kids continued with school. The company had no work to start, but Joe Sr. had the confidence to make it happen. The first four years were difficult for the economy and Joe, Sr., but he succeeded. Joe, Jr. joined the company in 1979, Gary in 1983 and David in 1986. Joe, Sr. had been able to give his kids the opportunity his father could not give him, and it was the great accomplishment of his life.
Years later, when the sons had more family responsibilities and a better understanding of the world, they would thank their dad for his fortitude and perseverance in starting the company during such a tough time. In 2005, the sons embarked on bringing the company full circle, giving it the family name of its founder and their father. Maybe this story is not so different from the thousands told by company builders across this great country; those people willing to take a risk and overcome the difficulties to make a better life. What is different about this story is that it belongs to us and we will always take pride in telling it.
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