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Staying in the game

image George Parker (middle) with two of his employees

HOUSTON - At 84 years young, George Parker has paved the way for the emerging generation who want to be a part of the construction industry. His business, Specialized Building Systems, Inc. (SBS) has been selling wall and ceiling protection products for 41 years.




    Parker got started in this business when he was living in Pittsburg. After graduating from Temple University, he moved to Houston in order to expand his knowledge of the trade. “Houston had the largest insulation market in the world so I knew I could come down here and get a job.” Parker became very successful and says that reason, and the fact that he enjoys the people he gets to work with, are what have kept him in the industry.
    When he first started SBS, there were many other companies of the same type that were already established. “I knew they questioned whether I was going to be able to make it. Of course they were all gone a little later on. We still have a lot of competition, though.” All of the competition is what keeps him in the game. “I like what I do and I’m good at it. I was 84 in July and I haven’t slowed down since.”
    There used to be other SBS locations: Atlanta, Fort Worth, and New Orleans, but odd situations happened causing Parker to close them. “In the Fort Worth office, the manager died. The managers in New Orleans and Atlanta wanted to retire, and I just couldn’t find anyone to replace them.” He’s okay with having just the Houston location now because they are getting lots of work and the employees enjoy Parker and the business. “We go through probably 4 or 5 million square feet a year. It’s our primary product, but we work at it. We have sales people out on the street and estimators inside. Everybody’s been with us for a long time. My secretary came to me two days after she graduated high school and she has a daughter who is graduating from A&M now, so she’s been there a while.”
    Parker says the most rewarding thing about what he does is seeing the good life he’s able to provide for his employees. Another thrill is receiving a very large order.
    Although Parker works hard, he always puts his family first. “Family always comes first and they know it. My family has always been very tolerant. There were times when I had to work late or be out of town, and my wife was very accepting. Family should always be first and foremost in your life.”
    Having been in business for 41 years, Parker offers some advice to the younger generation who may just be starting out: “You have to continue to learn and keep your mind open to new things. When I started, we had typewriters and adding machines, so I’m not good with computers. I hate them and I hate my phone, but you have to learn something every day and you have to be open to learning something new.”
    SBS specializes in Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic wall and ceiling panels. - te

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Author Info
Tanya Erickson houstoneditor@constructionnews.net