Parker’s history begins back in 1918 when a 33-year-old engineer named Arthur L. Parker founds the Parker Appliance Company. Mr. Parker rents a loft in Cleveland, Ohio to develop his unique pneumatic braking system for trucks and buses. Although the beginning years were tough, Arthur Parker and his family persevere. The same hard work, ambition, and engineering spirit that brought the company through the early years are still what drives Parker today.
And now, with annual sales exceeding $12 billion and growing, Parker is the world’s leading diversified manufacturer of motion and control technologies and systems, providing precision-engineered solutions for commercial, mobile, industrial and aerospace markets. The company employs approximately 58,000 people in 47 countries around the world. And everyday, just as we did decades ago, we continue to partner with our customers to increase their productivity and profitability. That is our culture, and our ongoing commitment.
The sky was the limit for the frenzied growth of the 1920s. Skyscraper architects and daring aviators of the age were kindred spirits of entrepreneurs like Arthur parker who aspired to find new directions and better ways for industry to advance.
- Arthur Parker founds the Parker Appliance Company in 1918 with a pneumatic braking system for trucks and buses. In 1919, on a promotional trip to Boston, the truck and trailer carrying the company’s entire inventory blows a tire, sending the business over a cliff. Parker saves and restarts the business in 1924.
- Parker’s reputation for producing reliable, high-pressure hydraulic connectors led Charles Lindbergh to specify Parker fittings for the Spirit of St. Louis on its historic first Atlantic crossing in 1927.
- The original winged logo indicates the importance Parker places on aviators who seek Parker’s help in developing reliable hydraulics to replace heavy mechanical devices used to move aircraft control surfaces. The company grows throughout the ’20s serving a booming auto industry and fledging aircraft pioneers.
Modern times: the International Aircraft Exposition of 1930 saw the entire line of Parker fittings, connectors and valves for aircraft on display. Parker products were reducing the drudgery of labor as industry worldwide was experiencing a revolution.
- In 1935, optimist Art Parker purchases the bankrupt Hupp Motor Car Company’s 500,000-square-foot manufacturing building in Cleveland for his 38-employee company. For years, Parker rents space to other companies, but eventually grows to fill the building. By the end of the decade, Parker Appliance achieves $3 million in sales.
- Helen (Fitzgerald) Parker, the third employee of the company and Arthur’s bride in 1927, typed many of his industrial recipes. Employee, wife and confidant, her methodical approach to problem solving was a valuable adjunct to Arthur’s more creative, visionary business style.
- Bending, flaring and connecting tubing had become Parker’s recognized strength across a variety of industries. Building on that strength were more highly engineered devices like the aircraft engine primer.
Women became the workforce at Parker when the U.S. entered World War II. Its 5,000 employees supplied more fluid connectors and valves for allied aircraft than any other manufacturer. By war’s end, the government stopped buying, Arthur Parker had died, and his heirs were advised to liquidate. The persistent and disciplined Helen Parker refused, reorganized and moved forward. By decade’s end, sales reached $8 million.
- With most young men drafted into military service, women play a major role in production at Parker, as in most companies.
- “Parkie” is created in the Parker foundry to be the official Parker Savings Bond salesman.
- Parker employees support the war effort and each other – a tradition embedded in Parker’s culture – by holding the Parker Variety Show. Proceeds from the employee talent show are used to start a fund for Parker employees who join the U.S. Armed Forces.
- After her husband’s death in 1945, Helen Parker risks her major financial asset – the proceeds from Arthur’s $1 million life insurance policy, to keep the company running, and simultaneously raises four children. She recruits new management and together they craft a strategy to diversify into a broad array of commercial markets.
America was getting its first look at itself through the miracle of television. Cars had fins. The world would soon see a beautiful blue marble photographed from space capsules built with help from Parker products. Technology was reducing time and distance and Parker was keeping pace.
- Parker rides the post war boom. The design of annual reports scream ’50s while the financial statements depict a rapidly growing company.
- Parker boasts nine divisions with locations in the Midwest and California.The company aids the Korean War effort, but continues to diversify into commercial businesses achieving its goal of growing to 50 percent of the company’s sales.
- The Parker Plant Protection Department responsible for safety, fire and police, was an early foray to promoting sound environmental, health and safety practices. The Parker Police had a staff of more than 60 – larger than many cities of the time with populations of 30,000.
- Applying its new strategy of growth through acquisition, Parker Appliance acquires the Hannifin Company in 1957. With Hannifin comes new cylinder and valve products, and a new corporate name.
With the eyes of the world focused on space, Parker was positioned to provide many of the technologies required to get there. By decade’s end, man would set foot on the moon and Parker’s sales would reach nearly $200 million.
- Parker Hannifin’s stock is first traded on the New York Stock Exchange in 1964. Just two years later, Parker enters the Fortune 500.
- A new international division is formed in 1960 to market Parker products abroad. By 1969, the company has operations in 10 countries in Europe and Latin America.
- Pat Parker, the founder’s son, is elected President of Parker in 1969, the same year Parker products land on the moon with American astronaut Neil Armstrong.
- Parker branches out into the hydraulics market with an initial product offering which includes solenoid directional valves for use in a broad range of industrial and mobile applications.
The relentless thump of Disco set a pace for the discoveries and accomplishments of the 1970s. The same decade that saw moon and Mars missions produced communes and Earth shoes. Parker technologies to farm, mine and move the earth, as well as explore the depths of oceans and outer space, proved more than fads by adding value to human endeavor.
- As the search for clean, renewable energy sources begins, Parker contributes separator plates for NASA’s Space Shuttle Orbiter fuel cell power plants. Three fuel cells, consisting of 145 plates each, produce the Orbiter’s electrical power.
- Parker celebrates 1976 with a strong, new logo.
- In 1977, Parker sales reach a record $500 millon. A year later, Parker acquires the Bertea Corporation, an industry-acclaimed producer of flight controls.
- Parker remains an attractive investment and weathers recession well by serving diverse markets and balancing original-equipment business with maintenance, repair and overhaul.
- Parker continues to be a key supplier to space exploration. The company commemorates the 10th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing with a specially commissioned LP. When Apollo 13 met crisis, Parker engineers worked around the clock with NASA to bring the astronauts home safely.
The breaching of the Berlin Wall signaled the beginning of the end of the Cold War. Eastern Europe emerged with a pent-up demand for goods and services. Rebuilding decades of old damage, extending new bridges, and tearing down walls provided both physical and psychological benefits. Parker’s products and its employees aided by building both new friendships and new markets.
- The flags on the cover of the employee magazine, Parker World, symbolize Parker’s commitment to international growth throughout the 1980s. Parker takes notice of growing markets and begins promoting itself as the only company involved in the tri-technologies: hydraulics, pneumatics and electromechanical. Thirty-six acquisitions are made this decade.
- In 1980, Parker acquires Ermeto Armaturen GmbH, a highly successful manufacturer of hydraulic fittings and valves, filling an important void in the company’s European product lines and adding an excellent contributor to Parker’s worldwide marketing efforts.
- Racor Industries is the first of several acquisitions establishing Parker in the fast-growing worldwide filtration markets.
Instant communication of everything to everyone became possible. Parker’s global organization extends to more than 30 countries and hundreds of thousands of customers. Information technology enabled the company to organize materials, set production schedules, pursue mass customization and ship to customer expectations.
- Communications and IT infrastructure challenges necessitate Parker’s move into a new world headquarters in August 1997. Early in the ’90s, Parker’s European headquarters move to a new home in Hemel Hempstead, England.
- Parker’s reorganization into global businesses fuel the company’s growth, nearly doubling sales and quadrupling earnings from 1993 to 1997, as an article in Forbes magazine points out. And in ’97, the company’s first Internet site, www.parker.com, is launched.
- Parker revolutionizes value-added services with innovative concepts such as ParkerStores offering walk-up repairs, Hose Doctors performing on-site maintenance, and the Genuine Parker Parts Program featuring the industry’s first three-year leak-free guarantee.
- The Asia Pacific Group headquarters is established in Hong Kong. Parker also opens sales offices and begins manufacturing in Shanghai.
Flourishing technology; a global marketplace; a growing awareness that existing energy sources are finite, all cloud the twenty-first century’s sky. Parker formalizes its strategy for dealing with the accelerated pace of change to ensure its winning performance continues into the future. The Win Strategy sets goals in customer service, financial performance and profitable growth and provides strategic means of attaining them.
- Parker launches the Win strategy to transform itself into a premier industrial company. Battling recession in the early 2000s, the company focuses on financial performance initiatives. In the second half of the decade, it aggressively pursues growth through innovative products and strategic business units.
- Web portals for employees and distributors improve information sharing and speed transactions.
- Making the most of its breadth of product, Parker embarks on a systems strategy. Our definition of a system: the entire universe of Parker products and value-added services we have to offer, beyond just connected components.
- In aerospace, Parker products and systems support every major aircraft program in production worldwide.