For a large chunk of the 1980s and 1990s, the firms that would become Parker Construction Company Inc. did a little bit of everything in the building world: public works, commercial projects, restaurants, hospitals and houses.
But the more impersonal, low-cost focus of corporate and institutional projects didn’t suit the family-run business and in 1999 current President Glenn A. Parker reformed the company to focus on residential work.
Now 14 years after Parker Construction’s reincarnation (for a long period as Parker Thompson) attention to clients’ needs is one of the firm’s top selling points in a part of the industry Parker describes as almost totally driven by reputation and word of mouth.“When you do residential, it has a lot of interpersonal relationships – we learn very personal things about clients, like where they get up and eat their food,” Parker said. “We had done everything but we felt we had the most expertise in residential. We wanted to make sure we could do high quality and the projects were about that and integrity instead of the low bid.”
Since Parker Construction reorganized in 1999, the company has become a major presence in Rhode Island and now has clients reaching into Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. The firm focuses on renovations, additions and interior remodeling with a few commercial projects, like restaurants and offices mixed in.
Several years ago the company gained notoriety for developing a system for working on projects through the winter by erecting a tent around houses being renovated.
Like the rest of the industry, Parker Construction took a hit during the recession. The number of employees at the company dropped from about 100 in 2009 to a low of 25 in 2011, according to the PBN Book of Lists.
But there were signs of life in the construction industry in 2012 and by the end of the year Parker said the firm was back up to 45 employees with plans for more hiring in 2013.
Parker said the recovering construction market has pushed firms toward doing more small projects than before the housing market crashed, which isn’t necessarily a negative.
“The common factor in our work is not necessarily the size and complexity, it is the intent of the client to have something high quality,” Parker said. “From a single bathroom to projects involving multiple buildings on a compound with mechanical and electrical systems, the client wants professionalism, good scheduling and to meet deadlines with all our projects.”