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Parker Boats - LINWOOD PARKER!

Exclusive Interview with LINWOOD PARKER 
How the Boy Became the Man Behind the Legacy


Linwood Parker is the founder and president of Parker Marine Enterprises, maker of Parker Boats. A North Carolina, family-owned business started in 1979, Parker Boats are famous for their overbuilt quality - simplicity, exceptional seaworthiness, superior strength, and reliability. (photo: 8-year-old Linwood rockin the waves in "Linwood" a Harker's Island style skiff built by a family friend.)



IMG_0096Tri-State Marine Asks:
Why Did You Start Building Boats?

LINWOOD: Growing up on the Island, at that point in time, there were mainly two categories of folks. There were those who either built boats, or those who used them for commercial purposes. It was just a way of life on that island in North Carolina and surrounding coastal communities. (photo of 24-year-old Linwood with his dogs, Doc & Gin, and the first Coastal Carolina boat he built in 1971)

IMG_0092Tri-State Marine Asks:
What's the Oldest Parker Still Riding the Waves?

LINWOOD: The oldest Parker boat,"Hull #1", is a 20 foot fiberglass center console built in 1979 and is still actively fishing and crabbing out of a remote fishing community known as Cedar Island in North Carolina.

Hull #1 was built primarily for commercial fishing use. When we designed this first fiberglass hull, we used the very same ideology of strength, simplicity and seaworthiness which was applied when I built larger 50-80' commercial vessels. Although these owners would mainly operate along inshore waters, I knew it also had to withstand the rigors of the offshore/ocean environment should the need require. The elements didn't dictate whether you went out or not, it was the need to go. Anything I build, I make sure that it will last a longtime, for many generations - to take you out and bring you back safely. Also with the thought that if it doesn't serve a function on the boat, it doesn't need to be there. These ideals remain the Parker tradition. (photo of Hull #1, still working for a living after 35 years on the water!)

2520-XLD-running-awayTri-State Marine Asks:
Do You  Have a Good Parker Survival Story?

LINWOOD:  There are so many! Here's just one of the thousands of complimentary letters I've gotten over the past several decades:

We were fishing in our Parker when we got caught in the worst storm of our lives - wind gusts of 60 miles with 14-18 foot seas! We fought those seas for 6 hours and were certain there was no way we were going to survive. We huddled down in the cabin and held on for dear life - the crashing waves were so enormous we felt that the hull would split any moment. Bolts and nuts flew everywhere but the boat held up and eventually we were saved. Tell your Parker Employees that they should be proud of their workmanship. I sincerely doubt that I'd be able to write this had we been in any other boat. Thank you. I'll always be grateful to the Parker Group for being alive today, Phil

Parker_in_action_4Tri-State Marine Asks:
What's Your Favorite Parker Model?

LINWOOD:The versatility and classic design of the 25 Sport Cabin would be my favorite model. The provided protection from the elements, along with the large expanse of fishing space, make it at the top of my list. This design has allowed our customers the true personalization for all their boating needs. It gives them everything they need and nothing they don't.


1801_Horizon_Blue2Tri-State Marine Asks:
What's Your Favorite New Feature on Today's Parkers?

LINWOOD: In spite of my more practical background, my favorite new feature on a Parker today is the recent additions of our hull colors. Maintaining focus remains important to us at Parker. One new change that has taken place was the the walk-through transom. This allowed ease of access whether it be a new diving expedition, fishing adventure or at the dock. We took a look at how our current owners were using our boats and wanted to provide them with the tools they needed to do so more efficiently. Again, while maintaining our primary focus of practicality and no-nonsense fish-ability. 

Parker_FactoryTri-State Marine Asks:
What's the Most Challenging Aspect in Building Boats?

LINWOOD:  Production efficiencies, especially in the face of constant increases in materials and labor costs. We've been able to double-down while keeping our commitment to the strength of our product at the forefront. It hasn't been easy, but we've certainly proven we're up for the challenge! 

 Parker owners have been very helpful in presenting us with very functional ideas for customization and many of their suggestions find their way on the production floor. We've been fortunate to have owners who've had their hand in enhancing what is known as today's Parker boat. In a world of the latest and greatest, Parker boat customers are unique in they are experienced boaters and fisherman. They've typically owned a previous brand and have learned the importance of practicality and a well-built boat to enhance their experience. Glitzy just doesn't cut it with this group! They tend to demand and appreciate the space, ease of maintenance, value and longevity of a Parker ownership. (photo inside the world-famous Parker Factory in North Carolina)

SHARP_PICTURE_(1)Tri-State Marine Asks:
Do You Have a Good Parker Employee Story?

LINWOOD: Being in this for many years and having so many talented craftsmen work with me during this time period, I have lots of great stories. I guess the main thing is the many employees who've stuck with me. In 1986, when we began operating in the new plant, we added 20 additional employees and nine of those are still with us today and have truly become part of the Parker family. Some started in their teens, some in their twenties, and some in their early thirties, so I have personally witnessed their many success stories as they've grown up with us.

Just one example (just to cite one, I could recount many) Tommy Green was hired in the 1980's in our lamination department. Over the years he gained expertise in each aspect of the production phases and now sits as Director of Manufacturing, overseeing our processes and labor force on the production floor. Many others who began with us back then are now using their experience and skills to train and manage future generations. To pass down the Parker tradition, it's humbling to see. (Linwood in blue shirt with Trudy Parker at left and employees:Joe Savage; Bunky Guthrie; Dale Spoonspire; Randal Richard; Ronnie Foster; Walt Glancy; Brenda Day; Eric Denton; & Tommy Green)

Linwood___JohnTri-State Marine Asks:
Why the Strong Relationship with Tri-State Marine?

LINWOOD: We started working with Tri-State Marine in 1994 and from the start it has been a very strong & close relationship.They had the excellent reputation and were the caliber dealership we were looking for in a long-term business partner. Tri-State Marine has since become one of our top dealers in Sales and Service every year and has one of the highest Customer Service Index scores of any Parker dealer. Most of their employees have been with them for decades, and now we consider them part of the Parker family, just as much as they are a part of the Tri-State Family. Through our 21 year relationship, the Tri-State and Parker joint mission of providing a quality product and exceptional customer service has never wavered. (photo of Linwood with long-time friend, John Byrnes, president of Tri-State Marine) 

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