Greek Corner owner Jason Parke, left, now works with his father, Brad, who serves as general manager of the nearly 30-year-old screen-printing company on East Chestnut Expressway.
Business Spotlight: Father of the Boss
Greek Corner owner Jason Parke is turning the stereotypical father-son workplace dynamic on its head.
In January, Parke hired his father, Brad, to serve as general manager of the nearly three-decade-old screen-printing company at 2025 E. Chestnut Expressway, Ste. D.
The younger Parke started his one-man screen-printing business moonlighting out of his grandparents’ garage at their used car lot, Waggoner Motors on Kearney Street. Today, Jason Parke estimates Greek Corner screen-prints about 5,000 shirts per month.
“He’s the boss,” the elder Parke says of his son. “He’s taken the risk and he’s worked hard.”
Brad Parke brings 30 years of marketing, customer service, sales and management experience to Greek Corner, most recently as a project manager for Pinnacle Sign Group. With a résumé that includes stints as marketing director for Pellham Phillips Architects & Engineers and general manager of UniFirst Rental Uniform Service, Parke at times finds himself biting his lip around Greek Corner.
“Sometimes, it’s hard for me not to step in and say, ‘This is how you ought to do it,’” Parke says. “He’s still my son.”
Well before dad arrived, Jason Parke had purchased Greek Corner, merged it with his home-based shop, tripled its space in a move, and revved revenues to double-digit percent increases the last two years.
“He’s done a great job,” the elder Parke says. “I’m really proud of him, but he’s at the point where he’s done all a single owner can do. He just needed some help. The timing was right and the situation was ready where I could come in and do that.”
Jason Parke says the business model is quite simple.
“A T-shirt is a T-shirt,” Parke says, pointing to customer service as a way screen-printers can be distinct. “You can get it anywhere, but we’re going to go above and beyond to make it a pleasurable experience.”
With services including embroidery and vinyl lettering, Parke says sales grew 34 percent in 2010 and 28 percent in 2011. He declined to disclose revenues and the number of clients.
On the move Steve Bean first established Greek Corner in 1983 at 940 S. National Ave. In 2005, Bean sold the business to Karla Lampe, who ran it as Greek Corner Graphics Inc.
On Jan. 1, 2009, Jason Parke and his wife, Nicole, purchased the 1,200-square-foot South National property from Lampe and merged it with his Nixa home-based business, J. Parke Screen Printing & Embroidery.
But bustling around for customers between a retail store across from the Missouri State University campus and a warehouse in Nixa proved to be an arduous task for Parke.
“When I bought the business, I knew that we needed to be in one location. As soon as I bought the National location, the first thing we did was work to find a new place before our lease ran out because we were wasting a lot of resources,” he says.
The tip of the iceberg came when an ice storm flooded the basement of the production warehouse. Parke parlayed a negative situation into a positive one, and on Aug. 3, 2009, he moved the business to its current 6,000-square-foot home at Chestnut Expressway and Pythian Street.
“It’s more convenient,” Parke says. “We have more space and more room to grow.”
Parke is also pleased with the location’s vicinity to core clients through the Cooper Sports, Killian Softball and Mediacom Tennis complexes, and Evangel and Drury universities. In part by maintaining a relationship with longtime client MSU, Parke says more than half of the store’s business in 2011 came from school groups, such as day cares, middle and high schools, colleges and fraternities.
Greek Corner strives to be active in the Springfield community and works heavily with not-for-profit businesses.
“I’ve developed a program where we’ll donate 10 percent of an order back to a not-for-profit group order,” Parke says.
Heavy machinery Parke said Greek Corner’s most difficult challenge is being cognizant of competitors and keeping up with new products. In doing so, the store has just added Cutter & Buck, a line of golf-inspired apparel for men and women. Parke has considered future plans to enable online purchases.
Greek Corner’s six-person staff supplies an in-house artist, and it does not charge screen fees or art fees.
“We want to work with customers to design shirts,” Parke says. “We like to have a minimum of 12 shirts, and at $10 for a single color, it’s the most expensive option you can do. My ideal order is 50 to 100 pieces. If we do that, it’s $6 a shirt.”
Parke also brought in some heavy machinery with the move to Chestnut Expressway. He bought a M&R Diamondback six-color press machine, which shoots out 300 to 380 shirts an hour.
Andrea Alcorn, owner of Gracie’s Bridal, orders T-shirts from Greek Corner at least once a year for the Pretty In Pink Prom Fashion Show, a Feb. 26 event that benefits Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks.
“We’re working with them right now,” Alcorn says of the 55-shirt order. “We work together to come up with an option for the design. I give him ideas and he figures out what he can do for me.”[[In-content Ad]]