Business as usual...since 1854

For nearly 160 years, Parke & Son Inc., has served the needs of America's industrial community. David Stoddard, pictured at right, helped keep the company moving in the right direction for 61 of those years.

The legacy continues today under the leadership of David’s sons Dick & Bruce Stoddard. In 2012 Dick’s son Gavin Stoddard joined Parke to help guide it in the 21st Century. The operations that now combine to create Parke Inc. operate in over 800,000 square feet, and employ more than 80 men and women. As you will see Parke, Inc. has remade itself several times during its evolution to the present form as a  provider of Commercial Public Warehousing, Contract Warehousing, and Toll Processing & Blending services. But no matter what comes next, Parke will continue to deliver quality and service, just as it has since that early morning on March 6th, 1854.

dave For 150 years Parke & Son Inc has served the warehousing needs of America's businesses

1854 - You are the very man I am looking for

Virgil Parke, 22, arrived in Decatur Illinois by train at 5:30 a.m. As the late Mr. Parke stood surveying the town an acquaintance, Gus Hardy came along. Mr. Hardy's first words were, "You are the very man I am looking for. I'm going to sell you my livery business." Virgil had only a few dollars in his pocket and laughed at the idea, but Gus persisted and said that he should pay him as he was able. After surveying the livestock and totaling its value, a business note was pushed from Mr. Hardy to Mr. Parke along with the quip, "It's your business now." Mr. Parke walked back to the hotel to finish his breakfast as a business man of the city of Decatur.

lime and coal This was the first storage warehouse business in the city

1863 - The first Parke & Son duo

In 1863 Virgil Parke sold the livery business and established a retail farm implement company at 143 North Main Street. In 1880, Guy Parke, then 14 years old, joined his father’s implement company to form the first Parke & Son duo. In 1886 Virgil and Guy Parke sold the company to establish a business in coal, wood, and stock-feed further north along Decatur's business district at 621 North Main. The father and son also operated storage rooms for household goods - for the first time entering into the warehousing industry. “This was the first storage warehouse business in the city”, Guy Parke later said.

wagon This was the first storage warehouse business in the city

1887 - Virgil Parke retires

In 1887 Guy Parke was taken into partnership with his father, marking the first time the business was known as Parke & Son, Incorporated. Two years later they added lime, plaster, and cement to the merchandise handled by the firm. Parke & Son became the area's first handler of Portland Cement - a British import known world-wide as the finest cement due to its similarities to stone quarried from the Isle of Portland in Dorset, England. After 1890 the company handled only building materials but remained in the storage business. More than fifty years after his auspicious start in the livery trade, Virgil Parke retired in 1910.

cerro gorgo The first time the business was known as Parke & Son Incorporated

1947 - Parke Warehouses and Parke & Son merge

In November 1930 Robert F. Watt came into the business in charge of the Warehousing division of Parke Inc. On January 1, 1947 Parke Warehouses and Parke & Son merged, and that same year, William C. Parke, Guy’s son and Vice President of Bankers Trust Company of New York, became treasurer of Parke Inc. William "Bill" Parke brought with him longtime friend and associate David A. Stoddard as secretary and assistant treasurer. Guy Parke remained active in the business long past 80, and died at the age of 98.

parke trucks Bill Parke brought with him longtime friend and associate David Stoddard

"Bill saw I was born in Decatur"

Dave Stoddard was born in Decatur but grew up in Chicago. In the 1930s he applied for a job with Continental National Bank. The hiring officer was William Parke. "Bill saw I was born in Decatur as he was reviewing job applications. That’s how I got the job." Both Stoddard and Parke left Continental Bank but stayed in touch. In 1947, Stoddard was working for Eastern Airlines when he ran into Parke in New York City. Parke was about to leave Bankers Trust to return to Decatur and join his father in the business founded by his grandfather. He asked if Stoddard was interested in coming back with him. Who would have know that this would mark the beginning of a career spanning over 60 years, and the beginning of the Stoddard era at Parke.

decatur illinois That's how I got the job

1962, 1965 - Parke's reputation for quality and service

Charles Stewart joined the company in 1962. A natural for operations and very personable, he helped grow the company by developing Parke’s reputation for quality and service, a culture that still drives the company today. Relationships with U.S. Pipe, Maytag, PPG, Caterpillar, Firestone, and others were honed in those years. Susan Stoddard Mooney, David’s daughter, began with Parke in 1965, working in accounting and inventory management. Key employee Janice Ferguson began during that time and is still employed as the firm’s Office Manager today.

cars A family business

1975 - Developing relationships with agri-business giants

David’s son Richard Stoddard came to Parke in 1975 after graduating from Eastern Illinois and several years working in industry. “Dick” managed operations for many of his early years. He and Stewart were instrumental in developing relationships with agri-business giants A.E. Staley and Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM). This transition into food-grade warehousing set the stage for the company’s present specialization in food and food ingredients. Lessons learned here enabled the company to enter the food ingredients repackaging and blending business (Toll Processing), which accounts for a significant part of the firm’s revenue today.

agribusiness giants Instrumental in developing relationships with Staley and ADM

1984, 1996 - The Parke era passes

William Parke died in 1984, leaving David and Ruth Stoddard with the controlling interest in the company. David’s younger son Bruce Stoddard entered the family business in 1996 after a career in the financial securities industry. Bruce and brother Richard (Dick) have expanded the business by building additional food-grade warehouse facilities and by developing the company’s toll processing, blending, and packaging business. In 2000 Bruce and Dick launched a new company in Lafayette, Indiana called 307 Warehousing which operates 400,000 square feet and employs 36 people.

old parke logo Bill Parke died in 1984, leaving David & Ruth Stoddard in control of the company
 

2008 - Dave Stoddard passes after more than 60 years of service

David Stoddard passed in December of 2008, after more than 60 years of service to the Company and the Community. Initially assuming the role of General Manager after being recruited away from Eastern Airlines by William Parke, David eventually became President, and then Chairman and Owner of Parke & Son, Inc. He had tremendous respect and appreciation for the many men and women who have and continue to work at Parke & Son. His generosity, compassion, excellent counsel, and sense of humor were hallmarks of his personality. Everyone who met David was better for the experience.

dave stoddard He had tremendous respect for the many people who continue to work at Parke & Son

Present - The legacy continues

The legacy of Virgil, Guy and Bill Parke, as well as that of Dave Stoddard and Chuck Stewart, continues today under the leadership of Dick and Bruce Stoddard. In 2012 Dick’s son Gavin Stoddard joined Parke Incorporated as Controller to help guide The Company in the 21st Century. The Company now operates in over 800,000 square feet, and employs more than 80 men and women. Parke has joined the 3PL revolution, and has implemented cutting-edge technology into its Commercial Public Warehousing, Contract Warehousing, and Toll Processing & Blending services. As it has throughout its long history, The Company will continue to evolve to meet the challenges and opportunities of the marketplace. And no matter what comes next, Parke will continue to stand for quality and service.

the parke legacy continues with construction The companies now operate  1.2 million square feet & employ more than 100 men & women
 

Want to see more Parke history? Visit our photo gallery