There’s been a lot of speculation about what is going on at Parks Ford in Wesley Chapel, with its main building behind a curtain of construction since last summer, and large modular buildings put in place next door.
“We’ve gutted our old building and are completely rebuilding all major customer touch points, so that we can better accommodate our customers and employees,” said Ron Parks at his dealership on State Road 54, located just east of I-75.
When Parks Ford unveils its new building later this spring, it will feature a larger showroom to display its broad line of vehicles, an expanded and fully covered customer delivery center, and much larger service write-up and customer waiting areas.
“The design of our new building is very progressive, and will enhance the comfort and convenience of our customers and staff,” said Parks.
To limit the inconvenience created by such a major project, Parks Ford put in place modular buildings before construction began last July.
“We had the modular buildings ready to go before we started to make sure our customers and staff would not be inconvenienced by the construction,” said Parks.
This major expansion is just one example of Parks’ commitment to the Wesley Chapel community, his customers and staff. His dealership employs over 100 people, most of whom are long-time employees that live locally and are involved in area schools, youth groups, churches and service groups.
“The culture here is very employee-focused. We know that happy employees provide the best customer service, and I’m very proud that many of our people have worked here for many years,” said Parks.
Heading up the operations team at Parks Ford is Vice President Terry Mullane, who has worked with the Parks family for 25 years and is a partner in the business.
“Terry is the driving force behind our culture at Parks Ford — the person who leads our ship and keeps us on track,” said Parks.
Mullane oversees employee development programs to educate and grow his people so they can flourish in their jobs. This includes employee outreach programs, and hosting team building events, such as bowling parties and family picnics.
“Our employees are the focal point of our operation and paramount to our success,” said Parks. “We empower our people to make decisions, so they can do what’s necessary to accommodate our customers.”
Parks takes ‘community’ very seriously, and has a full-time employee whose primary responsibility is community relations. Jennifer Cofini has served in this role for the past eight years, and heads up Parks Ford’s involvement in community organizations and events.
Cofini is the past chairperson of North Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce, and has been on the chamber’s board for the last six years. She also is involved in Rotary International.
“We are very proud of our partnership with Wesley Chapel High School’s Automotive Academy, which train students for well-paying technical jobs,” said Cofini. “Ellis Adams, our service manager, is on the school’s advisory council, and we’ve hired several academy graduates.”
Parks Ford hosts several Drive 4 UR Community events for area schools and service groups, including Sunlake, Wiregrass and Wesley Chapel high schools, and Double Branch Elementary.
Other organizations the dealership supports are March of Dimes, Helping Hands Food Pantry, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, OneBlood, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and The Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.
“We give back to the local community because our customers are primarily from Pasco and north Hillsborough counties,” said Parks. “We give back because the community supports us!”
Ron Parks’ father, Jack Parks, spent his entire career in the automotive industry. He opened his first dealership in 1975 in Tampa — a Lincoln Mercury dealership on Florida Avenue, which the family still owns today.
In 1978, Ron joined his father in the family business after careers in banking and real estate. In 1984, they opened their first dealership in Pasco County — Heritage Ford in Zephyrhills, which was seven miles east on State Road 54. In 1999, the Parks moved Heritage Ford to their 15-acre site in Wesley Chapel, and renamed the business Parks Ford.
The Parks wanted to be closer to I-75 so their location would be more convenient for customers. Plus, they believed that central Pasco area was about to explode with new homes and businesses.
“We were the first automobile dealership to recognize the potential in Wesley Chapel and central Pasco,” said Parks. “We are proud to have been the very first dealership in the community, and proud to still be here today under the same family ownership.”
In 2013, Parks expanded again in Wesley Chapel when he opened a Fiat and Alfa Romeo dealership next door to his Ford operation.
In addition to Parks Ford, the Parks family owns Parks Lincoln of Tampa at 10505 N. Florida Ave., and Stadium Toyota at 5088 N. Dale Mabry Hwy. in Tampa.
“We have a courteous and committed sales staff, as well as professional, expert service technicians, all with many years of experience satisfying our customers’ needs,” said Parks. “They are the reason we give the best service possible to every customer. Please stop by and find out how we can help you with your automotive needs!”
Published February 20, 2019