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2014 40 Under 40 Honoree: Jason Parke

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Jason Parke has returned a once-thriving business to prominence.

Greek Corner Graphics was hot in the 1980s and ‘90s, but “was a mere shadow of its former glory” when Parke purchased the company in 2009, he says. After changing the name to The Greek Corner and merging it with his home-based business, J. Parke Screen Printing & Embroidery, Parke set to work rebuilding the Springfield-based screen-printing and embroidery shop.

The 33-year-old has guided double-digit revenue growth each year, topping off at a 62 percent bump in 2011, followed by a 30 percent increase in 2012. In his first year of ownership, Parke pushed the company to 34 percent revenue growth.

“In spite of the worst economy in decades, the hard work of my dedicated team has restored the luster and reputation of one of Springfield’s better known brands,” Parke says.

But it wasn’t an easy start.

Though Parke had gotten his feet wet with his home business, he says the learning curve at Greek Corner was significant. Parke leaned on the expertise of two employees that stayed on through the transition and put his faith in the brand.

For the first year and a half, Parke did not take a salary, and his family got by on his wife’s teaching income.  But his employees were paid on time, he says, and the rest of revenue was reinvested back into the business. Since taking the helm, Parke has spent some $70,000 in capital expenditures, including a new automatic screen-printing press and dryer used to cure the ink on shirts. Parke says he is preparing the company to purchase a new automatic screen-printing press with a price tag of $140,000.

“I made it clear I was the one who took the risk in buying the business, but valued their expertise and opinions,” Parke says of starting out. “I did not go charging in as the new owner dictating the way we should do things.”

Parke’s not afraid to make the tough choices when it comes to the bottom line. He recently made the decision to cut two long-term customers, who he says did not justify the time and expense the company was putting in to serve them. Parke is now reallocating staff time and resources toward building more profitable relationships.

“As a teaching moment, I explained to our staff that even though it will be painful in the short term to turn away thousands of dollars of revenue, in the long run we will actually be more ahead,” Parke says.

Parke also uses Greek Corner as a means to donate 10 percent of the proceeds of T-shirts purchased for walking fundraiser events, with more than $2,000 donated to date. It also has raised nearly $4,000 for Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks through the annual Pink in the Park promotion at Hammons Field, for which Greek Corner prints pink shirts with the Springfield Cardinals logo and gives them away in exchange for a donation to the organization.[[In-content Ad]]


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