Parson Enterprise’s Founder, Chicago entrepreneur Harry Parson, lived in the crescent city of New Orleans for 11 years, had a great job in sales where he was in the top 10% of his company and was living a good life. Then Hurricane Katrina rolled in and changed everything.
“The day before Katrina hit, I did the smart thing and listened to the news. I packed up my car and left town.” Parson was part of the long, crawling road out of New Orleans leading to Houston and it took him 18 hours to make the journey because of all the other people doing the same thing.
He was lucky enough to get one of the last hotel rooms in Houston and avoided having to stay as a refugee at the Astrodome. After 8 days in the hotel, his job made him an offer.
“My job offered my a chance to move, and I was originally from Chicago so I went ahead and made the move. All of my friends from New Orleans were spread out across the country and weren’t returning after Katrina so it made sense to go,” he said.
Like many people surviving a tragedy, Parson said Katrina made him reevaluate his life. “Things happen for a reason,” said Parson, “and realized I needed to make a change in my life. I didn’t really love what I did and after losing everything in the flood, I took a long look at where I was at, knew I had to make a change and decided to start my own business where I could be successful and help people at the same time.”
For Parson, that business was getting into the credit card processing game. Every business that takes credit cards has multiple fees associated with it and many business owners have horror stories about being ripped off on the contract they signed with a processing company.
Parson saw an opportunity and jumped in. “Wayne Gretzky said you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take and I decided it was time to take mine.”
“Business owners often don’t realize they are getting ripped off by dishonest processing companies and I built my business on being different from them- we don’t make money off of business owners, we are paid by the merchant account providers.”
”We are paid by the merchant account providers; we want to do everything we can to make our clients successful and grow their business because that is how we grow”
Parson has an impressive client list with some big Chicago names that trust him: Sam Adam, Jr. (Blagojevich’s attorney), Chicago Institute of Cultural Affairs, Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition and the I Am 4 Kids Foundation.
“We work simply,” said Parson. We do the research so our clients don’t have to and we find them the best deal for their business. We also tell them not to sign a lease for a credit card processing machine as we let them use one of ours for free. We do free on site installation, employee training and then we let them run their business.”
Parson also adds that the strategy has worked. “We do free seminars for business owners on how credit card processing really works but mostly our new customers come from word of mouth referrals from happy clients. We will usually save a client anywhere from 8% – 20% off their monthly fees.”
Revenue has been doubling every year and Parson says his experience helps as well. “I’ve been doing this four years now and know all the ins and outs, which I pass along to my customers,” said Parson. “We also do check processing services for companies as well; a customer can scan a check and have it deposited into their bank account without actually having to deposit the physical check.”
Despite losing all his possessions in Katrina, Parson is positive on his future prospects. “You can get anything you want in life as long as you help other people achieve their goals.”