“If you could pick up a hotel and turn it upside down, everything that falls out is what we supply,” said Doug Parker, partner, CEO and president of The Parker Company, a Miami-based procurement firm.
Parker, a family-owned company, provides the furniture, fixtures and equipment for many upscale hotels and resorts, as well as sports arenas and other enterprises in the U.S. and abroad.
Some of Parker’s clients include the Atlantis resort at Paradise Island in the Bahamas, the JW Marriott Marquis in downtown Miami, the Burj Al Arab Hotel in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, the Montano Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa on the Amalfi Coast in Italy and the new guitar-shaped hotel being built at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood.
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What’s a procurement company? An investor who wants to build or renovate a hotel, for example, contacts Parker and outlines the project. Parker’s specialists then work closely with the client to define the details, elaborate a budget, choose the furniture, fixtures and equipment and draw up a timeline.
This is a huge undertaking. “There are tens of thousands of items that go into a project, and we buy from thousands of manufacturers in the United States and overseas, mostly in Asia,” Parker said. “We have to convert our client’s dreams into reality.”
The company has to match the owner’s vision with the entire range of items needed for a project, making sure they can be manufactured, shipped and delivered on time — and on budget.
Just ordering 300 couches for 300 rooms in a new hotel is highly complex, he said. Retail furniture companies don’t deal with large commercial projects and Parker’s clients — owners/project managers/hotel brand representatives — want custom-made couches that are different from other hotels.
So Parker and the client have to work together to design and order the couches. They have to decide on the couch size, type of frame, covering (leather, linen, etc.), color and trim, types of pillows (fringe, colors, materials), and choose from hundreds of alternatives and price points. Once a decision is made, Parker negotiates with several manufacturers who specialize in making different couch parts, places orders, and has the parts assembled into couches. They are then inspected and shipped.
“The average time from the moment we’re hired to project completion is 18 months,” Parker said. So the company is currently working on jobs that were started last year and is now acquiring products for projects that will be completed in 2019 or 2020. “We’re hired when they dig a hole in the ground, or even before.”
Parker never buys products for itself. It acquires everything for a project and manages the entire procurement process from start to finish: placing orders, making payments, overseeing progress, checking quality, arranging for ocean transport, export and import licenses, truck transportation (usually to a private warehouse) and final delivery and installation.
“We work under the radar,” Parker said. “We act as agents for our clients, getting the best product at the best price.”
Parker buys an enormous range of items for its clients. Aside from furniture, they purchase all the cooking equipment and utensils used in restaurants, artwork that hangs in hotel hallways and rooms, sheets and pillowcases, shower curtains, minibars, cabanas and TV sets. Everything not part of the building structure.
One of the company’s strangest purchases was a 500-lb. grouper the company had shipped from California to Atlantis.
Even though many products Parker acquires for clients are made overseas, local companies and workers are used in each project. These include freight forwarders, brokers, logistics firms, truckers, warehouses and installers.
Parker receives a negotiated fee on each project for its procurement and related services. The company purchases about $500-$600 million in goods annually on behalf of its clients, but does not own any of the furniture, equipment, etc. The money comes from clients’ accounts.
The company was founded in Miami in 1969 by Doug’s father, Leonard Parker, who worked for many years with a company that supplied equipment to Miami Beach hotels.
Company name: The Parker Company.
Founded: 1969 in Miami.
Founder: Leonard Parker.
Owners and senior executives: Douglas Parker (partner, president and CEO), Philip Parker (partner and COO of the Operating Supplies and Equipment Division) and Mitch Parker (partner and COO of the Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment Division). The three brothers are the founder’s sons. Parker also has a financial partner in Dubai.
Headquarters: 6205 Blue Lagoon Dr., Miami. Offices in Dubai and London.
Employees: Approximately 100, with 63 in Miami and the rest overseas.
Clients: Hotels, resorts, restaurants, condos, healthcare facilities and sports and entertainments venues in the U. S. and overseas. A large share of Parker’s projects are in the Miami area.
Financials: Revenues have grown by 30 percent year to date due to some large, new projects, the company said. They have increased every year over the last 7-8 years.
Competitors: Carroll Adams Group (Orlando), Project Dynamics (Los Angeles and Las Vegas), PMI (Dallas).
The difference: A strong international reputation earned through decades of experience working with clients in global procurement for large and small projects, budgeting, planning and logistics, as well as access to the highest quality domestic and international suppliers and a proprietary e-commerce system. The company developed a high-tech tool, called LLINX, that allows the company to effectively manage the many steps in the international procurement process and lets clients track their projects’ progress 24/7.
Client view: Miami’s MDM Hotel Group, which operates multiple Marriott properties and restaurants in Miami-Dade owned by its parent, MDM Group USA, has been a Parker client for more than 20 years.
“While we work with Parker on the purchasing of furniture and equipment, their expertise in consulting with us and our interior designers on innovative products is a valuable part of our relationship,” said Florencia Tabeni, vice president of operations and development at MDM Hotel Group.
“Our hotels are recognized for not only meeting but far exceeding industry standards. To that end, you need a partner that appreciates and understands those high standards … they are not simply looking to meet expectations, they are looking to exceed them,” she said.
While there are many good companies working in the hospitality procurement space, Parker goes “the extra step to make sure that everything is done correctly. If they set a timetable, we can assume it will be achieved.” Their service is “superb.”
The hotel group’s local properties include the JW Marriott Hotel Miami, JW Marriott Marquis Miami, Hotel Beaux Arts, Boulud Sud Restaurant Miami (located in the Marquis), Miami Marriott Dadeland and Courtyard by Marriott Dadeland.
Business lesson: In 1997, the family-owned firm became part of a large, publicly-owned enterprise (HWS) that combined Parker’s procurement expertise and clients with other companies that worked in renovations, construction, asset management and logistics. But HWS did not perform as the Parker family expected. “We bought our company back and all of our clients stayed with us,” the CEO said.
Challenges: Hospitality will remain an important part of Parker’s business in the future, but millennials and other young people have a different mentality regarding how and where they want to live and work and play, Philip Parker said. The company has to figure out what that means for their business and what it needs to do to adapt to changing demands for new communities. Also, the company must keep track of new manufacturing operations outside the U.S., and ensure the quality and reliability of any new suppliers, Doug Parker said. “Twenty years ago, most furniture manufacturers were in South Carolina. Now they’re in Asia.” This means long lead times between ordering custom goods and receiving them in U.S., Latin American, Caribbean and European markets. And buying from distant suppliers leaves little room for error.
Outlook: Parker has a hefty order book but is constantly working to line up new projects that may start several years from now. It expects strong domestic and international growth to continue for its business in hotels and resorts, despite “peaks and valleys,” Doug Parker said. The company’s expansion into sports and entertainment venues has been successful and it will continue to push ahead in this sector. In addition, it’s developing new opportunities in areas that want experienced and efficient procurement services like upscale condos and senior living communities, hospitals, universities and municipal government buildings.
Joseph A. Mann Jr. can be reached at email@example.com.