May 16, 2011

Reed & Reed CEO: 'The employees make us go'

The company is thriving under Jackson Parker -- with the help of his family and 200 workers.

By J. Hemmerdinger
Staff Writer

WOOLWICH - Jackson Parker, president, CEO and co-owner of Reed & Reed Inc., blushes and reclines in his chair, chuckling, when asked about his career progression.

click image to enlarge

Jackson Parker, president and CEO of Reed & Reed Inc., sits below portraits of the company’s founders at its offices in Woolwich.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

"Talk about my company and my employees," he finally says, composing himself. "Don't talk about me. The employees make us go."

He may be right, but Woolwich-based Reed & Reed has transformed since Parker, now 56, took the helm of the construction company in 1985.

Back then, the company pulled in about $5 million annually and had 50 or 60 employees; today Reed & Reed makes more than $100 million yearly and has 200 employees.

"Jack is a pretty sharp guy. He's is always looking for new things that match the skill set of our people," said company Treasurer Thomas Reed.

But Parker, who married a Reed family member, certainly hasn't done it alone.

He's had help from staffers at work sites throughout the state, and assistance from other Reed & Reed family members, including his partner Thomas Reed, who is also a co-owner.

Parker grew up in Bath. His father was a local banker at Canal Bank and his mother was a homemaker. Parker's great-great-grandfather built coastal schooners, which carried lumber and coal to South America, returning with loads of molasses and sugar.

Parker attended Morse High School, where he was a fullback and linebacker -- and a captain -- of the football team. He also won state champion awards in wrestling and competed in shot put and discus on the track team.

Parker graduated from Colby College with a degree in government (he initially aimed to be a lawyer). He has an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

After school, Parker took a financial job at chemical company FMC Corp. in Chicago. But he moved back to Maine, taking a job as material cost control manager at Bath Iron Works. Parker became chief financial officer of Reed & Reed in 1982, and president and CEO in 1985.

Parker, who lives in Woolwich, first met his wife, Susan, in high school. She is the granddaughter of Carlton Day Reed, who helped found the firm in 1928.

Parker has four children: Abigail, 31, is an attorney and Reed & Reed risk manager who lives in Boston but spends four days a week in Woolwich; Katherine, 30, lives in Boston with her husband and two young children; Jackson Jr., 27, is a project engineer working at a Reed & Reed wind power site in Massachusetts; and Gardiner, 24, is working on one of Reed & Reed's biggest projects, Portland's Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Parker enjoys boating -- he owns a 27-foot Boston Whaler with twin 225 Mercury outboards -- and duck hunting. He's currently planning a one-week hunting trip to Argentina, where he said there are "way more ducks" than in Maine.

Thomas Reed, 48, the other co-owner, spends most of his time working at Reed & Reed job sites. Also a grandchild of the company's founder, he lives in Woolwich, has a degree from Colby College and has worked at the company since 1978.

Reed's wife, Kathleen, is a doctor who specializes in internal medicine. He has two children: Buddy, 19, is a freshman at Colby College, and Josiah, 16, attends Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. 

Jonathan Hemmerdinger can be reached at 791-6316 or:


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