Happy Birthday to the Parker Agency
This week The Parker Agency celebrates 45 years of business in White River Junction.
Here’s how it all started:
Aside from college, Ken Parker has lived and worked in White River Junction for 70 years. Some member of his family has owned a business in town ever since 1938. It all began when his uncle sold the building next to what is now C+S Pizza to Ken’s parents, who went on to run The Junction Restaurant there for many years.
After finishing college, Ken returned to Hartford, after realizing that the corporate life was not his path and he didn’t want to work for anyone but himself. At the young age of 25, Ken started what is now The Parker Agency. Initially a real estate agency, The Parker Agency moved to insurance after five years and eventually became an independent insurance agency.
Even so, the Parker Agency however continued in real estate until the late 80’s. Ken explains, “I had one foot on the dock and one foot on the boat. The lines were untied. The boat was leaving the dock and I had to make a decision whether I stayed on the boat or stayed on the dock and I chose the insurance dock.”
I asked Ken what it was like to start a business so young. Was he scared?
“I was kind of scared…but I had the confidence that I was doing the right thing.”
Ken hired his first full-time staff person in 1975 and has continued a good track record of keeping his staff around. One of his current associates has been with him for 25 years. “The stability in an office like mine, working with the public is pretty crucial,” he says. “Finding people with an insurance background isn’t always easy. It’s valuable to keep people happy and keep them employed.”
Along with Ken’s business, he also helped develop Olcott Park in Wilder, where Green Mountain Power, Stave Puzzles and White River Family Practice are located. He also served on the Hartford Selectboard for 6 years, until 2015.
So what makes someone stay in the same community for 70 years?
“The people,” he replies without hesitation. “The people lend greatly to the vibrancy of the area. I’ve seen this area go through tough economic times and come back. Part of that is the resiliency of the people who are lifelong residents combined with the vision and enthusiasm and energy that people who move to the area bring.”
Ken for sure cares about his community, as demonstrated by his focus on serving small businesses and individuals. So, what advice does he have for those hoping to begin a new venture themselves?
“Go for it” he says. “Pray for success. Don’t be intimidated by the thought of failure.”
“So has it felt like 40 years, Ken?”
He replies, “Seems like only yesterday.”