Haworth Parks was a strong, decisive leader for his own company – Nashville, Tenn.-based Parks Inc. – and the industry at large. Born in 1926, Parks played basketball at Vanderbilt University. Upon graduating in 1949, he went to work for Nashville Surgical. Fifteen years later, he and some partners founded a hospital distribution company.
Parks quickly matured from successful (but financially unsophisticated) salesperson to savvy financial leader. He was an early advocate of computerization and electronic data interchange. His sales reps were among the first to take orders on handheld devices, then download them through the phone lines to the company’s computer.
After focusing on hospitals, Parks turned the company into a physician distributorship. At its height, Parks Inc. totaled between $4 million and $5 million in sales.
Generous with his time and ideas, Parks served as chairman of the Health Industry Distributors Association in 1988. It was a critical time for the organization, which had changed its name from the American Surgical Trade Association to HIDA six years earlier, and had only recently moved from Chicago to Washington, D.C. Parks felt that the association needed a full-time CEO, preferably someone with industry experience. He persuaded Jim Stover, who had recently sold his company, Alco Standard, to General Medical, to become HIDA’s CEO.
Later, Parks became chairman of ABCO Dealers, the distributor buying group. ABCO was facing some challenges of its own, not the least of which was consolidation in the industry. Parks concluded that Milwaukee-based ABCO needed to make some changes, including a move to Nashville. As he had at HIDA, Parks recruited Stover to head up the organization.
In 1997, at age 71 Parks sold his company to General Medical.