One of the world's greatest pen manufacturers
As is so often the case with successful entrepreneurs, George Safford Parker was convinced he could improve on the product he was selling.
And so it was a year later, in 1889, that the moonlighting pen salesman resolved to ultimately quit both his day job as a telegraphy tutor and his sales sideline, to form the Parker Pen Company.
Having spent a lot of time repairing the John Holland pens he sold to his students, Parker had gained the valuable insight that would help him develop the first Parker pen. Patented on December 10, 1890, it was to take a further two years before Parker could raise the necessary funding by going into partnership with insurance broker, William Palmer.
Little did the good townsfolk of Janesville, Wisconsin realize then that this fledgling venture would ultimately grow into one of the world's greatest pen manufacturers. Palmer, by contrast, obviously had some vision and faith in Parker, his buy-in investment of $1,000 was to prove a stroke of business genius.
Further research and patents followed until 1894 when the Lucky Curve, a capillary action system to prevent ink floods, became the stepping stone to the Parker Pen Company's first big breakthrough and emergence as a major player in the pen manufacturing industry. The by then burgeoning fortunes of the Parker Pen Company were further bolstered by the onset of the Spanish-American War where servicemen prove to be a ready market.
The road to success, however, was not without its challenges along the way. The Great Depression of the Thirties hit Parker and all the other pen manufacturers hard. Many went out of business, the disastrous downturn in trading conditions being too much to absorb. By the end of the Depression, the field was dominating by just four large pen manufacturers, comprising of Parker pens, Sheaffer pens, Eversharp pens and Waterman pens.
George Safford Parker's unshakeable belief in his product did more than see the company through the grimmest trading days ever. With no let up during the Depression in his drive for innovation, Parker quickly pressed this advantage and steered the Parker Pen Company into place as the market leader.
In the seven or so intervening decades, Parker has remained at the forefront of pen manufacturing. Much of this success has been the company's refusal to rely on past glories to secure the future. Constant innovation and development, the essential ingredients of business so firmly adhered to by its founder, have been key to maintaining their number one spot worldwide. This ethos has stood the company in good stead over its 100 year plus lifespan. The lesson learnt by George Safford Parker about improving the product you sell is as true today as it was in 1889.