How We Got Here: Henry W D Parker and Janice Parker

Current Position: The husband and wife team of Henry and Janice Parker are the founders, co-owners and equal partners of Safety & Environmental Compliance Consultants, Inc. (S&ECC, Inc.), headquartered in Riverside, California since 1992.

The Company: S&ECC is a consulting and training business that assists dry cleaners and launderers in achieving a level of compliance with the rules and regulations established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The Parkers’ emphasis is on the OSHA regulations most frequently seen as violations in small businesses. “We provide the required hazard assessment, written training materials and training on site to our client,” said Henry. “Our ongoing services keep our client in compliance through annual or semi-annual visits to the client location.”

Formative Years: Henry grew up in a small town (in a family of 5 with the occasional foster brother) a few miles from a farming community below the foothills that make up the area south of what was then known as March Air Force Base. His father was an MD Surgeon and his mother an MD. When Henry was ten years old, his father had a series of strokes and never fully recovered, passing away by Henry’s 21st birthday. “My mother had not practiced medicine until my father became ill, so essentially, she had three boys to raise on a county worker’s salary,” recalled Henry. “My brothers and I began working as soon as we could every summer from age thirteen.”

Unlike Henry, Janice grew up in an environment of a typical working-class family. Janice’s dad was a civil service diesel mechanic for the Air Force while her mom focused on raising two daughters. “I have great memories of small town life in what is now Moreno Valley, California,” Janice fondly recalled. “Our growing school years were in the 1950s, so life was much slower and less restrictive than now.”

Both Henry and Janice attended schools in Riverside County.

Pre-S&ECC: Henry’s career resume is quite extensive and varied. He has experience in customer service, industrial sales and installing equipment for manufacturing companies. His extensive training in safety is a result of having worked in the refining, petrochemical and pipeline industry as a Regional Sales Manager for an oil field valve manufacturer.

As a result of owning and operating various types of businesses, Janice knows the ins and outs of office procedures and business accounting. She has also had experience in sales, after founding her own decorating consulting business.

Launching the Business: It was mid-1992 when the Parkers found themselves at a crossroad. After working for twenty-four years in the same industry, the company down-sized and Henry was unemployed. With one child in college and another on the verge of graduating from high school, they needed to move quickly. “I realized that I had enough history in dealing with OSHA and training to write a safety training program that met OSHA requirements,” Henry said.

By year’s end, he began working with the printing industry, providing compliance services. Soon after, the EPA began making regulatory demands on the printing industry that could shrink the small mom and pop shops, so mainly the larger print shops would be left standing.

Finding Their Niche: After successfully serving the print industry for a year, the Parkers got a call from a dry cleaner that fell short of meeting OSHA requirements. With the inspector breathing down their neck, the dry cleaner knew they were in trouble and needed the services to accomplish training and get them compliant ready quickly.“The EPA involvement with dry cleaner’s contamination fit what I knew from the petrochemical industry clean-ups that required the use of my previous employer’s products,” said Henry. He continued, “Once we found that the dry cleaning and laundry industry had the same problems that the print industry had, we were able to begin working with dry cleaners, first in Alabama, Louisiana and Florida, then up to the Midwest where our daughter was in college.” They currently have clients in twenty-five states.

Henry said that they were at the right time with the right expertise to be able to supply the printing industry, and later the dry cleaning industry, with the correct answers both sectors were seeking after. “They were looking for our specific knowledge,” Henry said.

Food For Thought: The first two years were challenging because Janice and Henry expended much energy convincing potential clients that they needed the services of S&ECC.

The Parkers did dinner meetings with dry cleaners and talked to them about what OSHA was and how the EPA was beginning to require their industry to keep paperwork on machine temperature and leaks. “I had been through this in my prior work, so I understood how to get them working in the right direction,” said Henry.

Experiential Advantage: Having broad business experience in numerous industries has enabled Henry and Janice to meet the growth goals they set for S&ECC. “The ability to solve problems is the most important aspect of providing consulting service to business owners,” said Henry. “The commitment of time to a dedicated purpose is really important in any effort.”

One Step Ahead: “Keeping current with OSHA and EPA changes is a constant problem because most changes are driven by the courts and are enforced by OSHA inspectors before actual rules are written,” said Henry. “It is our job to think ahead of the inspectors.”

Industry Trends: The Parkers firmly believe that customer service businesses that emphasize providing a personal touch will always be necessary for commerce. They are also quite sure that the services they provide through S&ECC will be viable as long as people physically go to a workplace with other people. “Government will always want what they want, and small business must adhere to the same rules and laws that big business must follow,” said Henry.

They understand that personal appearance is important and will always be to the dry cleaning industry. “Casual wear is the new suit and trousers for business, but there will be a continuing need to provide a professional appearance at certain times; that will not change,” Janice said.

Proud Moments: Over the years, S&ECC has garnered numerous state recognition awards across the nation. They are very appreciative of the testimonials on their website (www.ComplyHere.com) from clients that have benefited from the Parkers’ consulting expertise and knowledge.

Perhaps their most prestigious recognition came in 2001 at the Clean Show in New Orleans when S&ECC received the Allied Trades Meritorious Achievement Award.

Recreation and Personal: Janice enjoys decorating and sewing. Henry likes to play with sports cars. Together, they have traveled through various parts of Europe.

Janice and Henry make their home in Riverside, California.

About John Leano

John Leano can be reached by e-mail: Leano@BryansCleaners.com or Twitter: @JohnLeano or www.facebook.com/johngleano