Don Parker Sales’ service-first culture allows it to provide comprehensive services for customers’ vehicle and car wash equipment needs.
By Stephanie Crets
As a provider of the leading manufacturers of vehicle maintenance equipment, Don Parker Sales Inc. is the largest distributor in the Pittsburgh market, serving customers in a 150-mile radius. The company’s services include a professional sales staff, factory trained installation crews and experienced service technicians handling a complete range of vehicle maintenance equipment. This includes such products as vehicle lifts, car and truck wash equipment, wheel service equipment, compressed air systems, lubrication and fluid handling systems and other tool and equipment products. Don Parker Sales’ customer base is characterized by large truck fleets, transit operations, car dealerships, public works maintenance shops and many other types of vehicle repair facilities.
“Over the years, we’ve brought on a full range of products within the service industry,” President Pamela Pitell says. “Compared to competitors, we can provide anything within the maintenance facility as a total turnkey project with sales, service, installation and post-installation services.
“In a similar manner to our commitment to technician education and training, we have invested into a professional well-trained sales team that supports our overall commitment to being the leader in our market,” she continues. “The commitment to customer service and investment in our people sets us apart from our competition.”
Pitell says the industry has changed and companies now place huge importance on value-added services including service, installation and after-sale services such as preventative maintenance agreements, as opposed to only highlighting the features and benefits of a piece of equipment. Thanks to its quick response time, the quality of its services and knowledgeable, trained service technicians, Don Parker Sales can meet the ongoing changes of the industry.
“It used to be that a specific brand was really important, but the professional management of labor has become more important,” Pitell explains. “People are looking for a company that has the training and insurance requirements that have evolved over the years. Manufacturers now have higher standards and expectations of the distributors. We have outstanding service and installation. It’s not an afterthought.”
“Nationally, Don Parker Sales has earned one of the highest market shares in the country,” Director of Operations Phil Parker adds. “We’re the leader in the tri-state in capital equipment for vehicle service. We believe it is because we are constantly improving and because we believe in a full-service professional approach, large investment in inventory of finished goods and repair parts, constant training and constant improvement focused on customer satisfaction.”
Pitell has been the face of Don Parker Sales since she took over the company in 1989. The company started in 1961 and had lost focus on the core market. Pitell energized the company as a full-service distributorship and used its name recognition to re-establish the company as she met with clients all over the Pittsburgh area. As one of the few woman-led companies in the industry, this created some hurdles.
“Going years back, being a woman in the industry was a challenge, depending on the customer I was calling on,” Pitell recalls. “I was not accepted early on. I had to earn my position, prove I had the knowledge and that I knew the industry and products.”
“Pamela had a challenge in winning over her own people even,” Parker notes. “But she has been the face of the company in the field and doesn’t give herself enough credit for what she overcame. She is product knowledgeable and that has given us a unique feel.”
Thanks to Pitell’s leadership, Don Parker Sales has grown rapidly in both size and space. It has expanded its service territory over the years, and in the coming months, the company will relocate from a 5,000-square-foot office/warehouse facility to one that is 13,000 square feet. Additionally, about four years ago, the company expanded into the car/truck wash market, a completely new category to explore.
“We decided to enter the car and truck wash business because a major manufacturer and their customers were seeking a service company with a professional approach to their business,” Pitell says. “They needed a company that would provide rapid service with qualified technicians and who would invest in the parts inventory required to keep their locations operational.”
Having that sales and service presence with the customer is important for the company. Pitell says most of its existing customers stick with Don Parker Sales because of its service. That longevity of both its customers and, especially, its people is an ongoing theme for Don Parker Sales. Some have been working for the company for 15 to 25 years.
“We’ve built this culture of working together and respecting one another,” Pitell says. “All of us working together in unity has helped to build the business and get it where it is today. I wouldn’t be where I am today without our employees. They’re the face of the company, on the street, working directly with the customers. The work they provide and service they perform is our no. 1 strength.”
Revenue: $10 million
Specialty: Vehicle service equipment distributor