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As the son of a pioneering North Carolina dealer, Adam Parks has been immersed in the auto-retailing business throughout his life.
But he suddenly found himself with much more responsibility, sooner than he expected when his father, Hubert Parks, died of lung cancer two years ago.
At age 26, Adam Parks, the youngest of seven siblings, took charge of two of the four Parks Automotive Group dealerships across the state. Not only did he have the responsibility of ensuring the stores' recovery after three unprofitable and low-profit years, but he had to do it without the guidance of his father, who began selling Chevrolets in the mid-1950s.
"He had to take the bull by the horns and really lead. He didn't have a choice, and he didn't have time to sit back," says Hubert Parks' longtime business partner, Junie Michael, a nearby Ford dealer.
"He's been very progressive in his thinking and his actions," Michael says. "The business is better today than when Adam walked in the door by far."
Adam Parks is president of the dealership his father bought in 1967, Parks Chevrolet in Kernersville, and of Parks Mazda in High Point. Both are near Winston-Salem.
In the spring, Parks began a long-awaited renovation of the Chevrolet store, temporarily moving the sales operation to a former Lexus showroom down the street to minimize disruptions during construction. The Mazda store was recognized this year as one of the brand's top 50 performers nationwide in sales and customer loyalty.
"He has turned the business completely around, building the business up from all departments," says Dave Jackson, Mazda's district sales manager in Charlotte, "and bringing in the right people to manage the store."
Parks attributes much of the improvement to his staff and his siblings, who hold various roles in either their father's dealerships or their own. He also speaks excitedly about the potential he sees for more growth ahead.
"We still have a long way to go. We still have a lot to learn," Parks says. "It was a real struggle, but we definitely turned the corner. For the employees to all get onboard and work through that, I think it said a lot about them and the company."
-- Nick Bunkley