Parker Industries (then Parker Feeders) traces its roots back to late 1960 and was founded by S.L. "Hank" Parker in Silver Lake, Indiana. He sold his first 130 bushel gravity bed on October 3rd, 1960. The price was $140. The customer was Kenneth Coble of South Whitley, Indiana.
The bed itself was built in 1961 by a team of four workmen and led by one foreman. In Parker Feeders first year in the gravity bed business, these men constructed and sold fifty gravity beds. The useable factory area for the manufacture of these feeders and beds was 12,000 square feet. Their equipment consisted of one 10' brake press, one 10' shear, 1 small manually operated drill press, one band saw, and a one-phase 3 power grinder and a welder. The painting was all done by hand.
In one year, Parker rapidly grew its gravity bed business. In fact, by 1962 the company had expanded enough that they were forced to move to a larger facility just north of Silver Lake. And, with the large demand for high-quality grain handling equipment, Parker continued growing. By 1965, Hank Parker saw the demand and sought out another manufacturing location west of the Mississippi. After looking at several communities in Iowa, he was most impressed by the openness and support he received from the people of Jefferson, Iowa. In 1965, a plant was built in Jefferson and established Parker's presence in the western corn belt. Continued growth and diversification within the company led to an official corporate name change to Parker Industries, Incorporated in 1966.
The business continued growing, and in 1973, Hank Parker sold his business to Flint and Walling, the first of several owners over nearly three decades. The Parker product line continued growing during these decades to include larger sizes of grain wagons, two-wheeled grain carts, header transports and even sprayers and tillage tools. Investments were continuously made in manufacturing and design of these products, making Parker one of the top names in grain handling.
In 1990, all production of agricultural equipment was moved to Jefferson, Iowa to be closer to the growing Midwestern marketplace.
In 1999, Parker Industries was purchased by Top Air Company in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Unfortunately, the farm economy that had slowed in 1998 continued into 2000, leading to the closure of Top Air operations at year's end. In 2001, Unverferth Mfg. saw an opportunity with these well-known and respected product lines and purchased certain Top Air assets, including Parker grain handling, adding to its own family of high-quality farm equipment.
The Parker name continues to be strong and well respected throughout the corn belt today. Hank Parker's commitment to quality and ingenuity continues under the family ownership of Unverferth Manufacturing. Though the sizes of grain handling products have increased dramatically since that first 130 bushel box, the commitment to the Parker family tradition of building quality products continues today.