Unlike many of his colleagues in construction, Michael Parks is not a legacy. He was, however, a Lego kid, which may have been a sign that he’d find his way to the industry someday.
His entire professional tenure, in fact, has been with Hoar Construction – starting in 1997 as a co-op student, hired to full time in ’99 – and transferred from his home state of Alabama to Orlando in 2006. He’s been heading up the company’s Florida division ever since.
Before building his family here, he was building forts at his parents’ Huntsville home. And playing sports; just about all of them. Baseball was the standout.
“I’d aspired to play in college, and got a few minor scholarships to some expensive private schools,” he told GrowthSpotter, “but they were certainly not full ride.”
Ever pragmatic and hardworking (it was the first word he thought his family might use to describe him as a kid), he set baseball aside, but it wasn’t a big sacrifice. Attending Auburn University was a dream he’d had for ages.
“I grew up an Auburn fan, so it was the logical place to go and thrilling to be there,” he says, adding that he was devastated by the Tigers’ recent one-point loss to LSU.
Summers, of course, brought with them an opportunity to make a buck, something that had been in his nature since childhood. Labor paid best.
“I’d be painting houses, doing landscaping, working on a construction site and fell in love with the idea that you could produce something and have this tangible asset, something you could point to at the end and say, ‘I was a part of that.’”
And so came a degree in building science – and eventually, the opportunity to point to such landmarks of labor around Orlando. Son Will, 9, and daughter Kate, 6, enjoy going with dad on business-related outings.
“We do [theme park] work – which of course you can never talk about – but we sometimes get to go and meet contractors or go to ‘Contractor Day’ before something opens and of course, my kids think I single-handedly built it by myself!”
Parks’ wife, Angel, a fitness instructor, met her husband on the golf course back in Huntsville; he was playing – she was driving the beer cart. They’ve been married for 17 years.
“She’s always doing something active and I was, too, for a while – running a half-Ironman and all kinds of other races. That hasn’t been the case for the past eight or so years,” he chuckles, “but I’m slowly getting back into it.”
Life in what the Parks’ call “the bubble” of Winter Park is comprised of family, friends and fun.“We love Prato and Mellow Mushroom and all the events – whether it’s the Christmas Parade or movies in the park,” he says. Also, in Winter Park, the Parks’ church, First Methodist, is one of his foundations for volunteer work.
He’s on staff at First Methodist and on the board of both Heart of Orlando Young Life (a nonprofit focused on programs for teens) and United Against Poverty; he finds fulfillment in all three. Hoar recently built three new structures at United Against Poverty Orlando, marking the 20th anniversary for the contractor’s Florida division and providing space for the charity’s efforts including counseling, education and job placement.
“Young Life was a group that found me in high school and has helped me in my walk; I wanted to give back. A friend tapped me for United Against Poverty because of my construction background and in the process, I heard the staggering statistics about the working poor here in Orlando ... and I dove right in.”
Parks also is eager to participate with Team Hoar in this year’s Canstruction at the Orlando Science Center, coming up next month.
“We pair with an engineering firm, come up with a design based on the theme, then build a structure made of canned food. There’s creativity, then the actual physical build – and at the end, all the food and donations go to the Second Harvest Food Bank.”
-- A.D. Thompson