Photography by Brandi Stage Portraiture
Each house crafted by Parker Contracting is one of a kind, which is a great point of pride for the husband and-wife team behind the business.
“When we build homes, they are unique to each family,” says April Parker, who runs the Bay St. Louis-based firm alongside her husband, Paul. “We like to customize each home to make it special for our clients. This is what separates us from other contractors.”
Married for 36 years, the Parkers not only share a company, but also five children and seven grandchildren (with another on the way). Not unlike the homes the couple builds, the Parkers’ decades-long partnership was made to last.
“Paul and I work great together as a team. Along with being husband and wife, we are also best friends. This helps us manage the project together to get it completed to become a stunning home.” – April Parker
DETERMINED TO BECOME GREAT
Both Parkers grew up in Bay St. Louis, and when 12-year-old Paul laid eyes on 10-year- old April, he was instantly smitten.
“I fell in love with her the minute I met her,” he recalls.
Paul also became enamored with construction early in life, learning the ins and outs of the industry while working with his uncle as a teenager. After he and April married, he hung drywall and took small renovation jobs, but he knew he’d need to do something more to support his growing family.
“At the age of 22, I decided to start building houses on my own,” Paul recalls. “Although it was scary, I knew if I wanted to succeed, all I had to do is believe in myself. Once you find something you are good at, then you do your best to become great at it, and that is exactly what I did.” Parker Contracting launched in 1990 and now is known for building dream homes of exceptional quality and renovating and repairing existing properties. The firm takes care to preserve the character and charm of older houses while its new builds are anything but cookie cutter.
“All the homes we build are very special to us,” Paul says. “That is why we use the name Parker Contracting. We stand behind our name and the quality of our work.”
‘WE WANT TO BE PART OF IT’
After Hurricane Katrina, both Paul and April got licensed as insurance adjusters to better serve their clients in the storm’s wake. Realizing a change was needed to grow the business, the Parkers pivoted again after the 2008 housing market crash, getting certified to do commercial work alongside their residential projects.
While Paul is involved in the builds themselves, April’s role is to consult with the client on the interior and finishes. They each bring different perspectives and opinions to a project, which ultimately leads to a better result. “Paul and I work great together as a team,” she says. “Along with being husband and wife, we are also best friends. This helps us manage the project together to get it completed to become a stunning home.”
Most people don’t know what to expect when they choose to build, and April considers it her job to guide them. After determining the clients’ budget, she meets with them several more times to pick out flooring, cabinets, tile, plumbing fixtures and other touches. The Parkers also take potential clients to see projects they have completed or are in progress, which demonstrates the quality of their work and often marks the beginning of a long relationship.
“When we meet with clients for the first time, we ask what they are looking to build because sometimes it’s a second home, or it could be their first home, and sometimes, it’s their forever home,” April says. “Whatever the answer is, we want to be part of it.”
Structure is important for any company, and in April’s view, she and her husband have fine-tuned Parker Contracting into “a well-oiled machine.” Despite COVID-19 and recent economic challenges, the phone calls have never ceased from people interested in making the Coast their home.
“During the pandemic, we saw growth unlike the rest of the country; we saw more people moving here to Mississippi from Louisiana and other states,” April says. “Clients like the low-key lifestyle. Construction has been booming on the Gulf Coast for the past five years, and although there were hiccups with COVID, we still see continued growth.”
That growth translates to busy days for the Parkers, who often work from sunup to sundown and make a point of being accessible to their clients, even after hours and on weekends. Their days usually end by briefing each other on the status of various jobs and discussing what’s needed to move forward. With several projects in the works, including the Grand Bend Tennis Resort, numerous new homes and some residential development builds, the future of Parker Contracting looks bright — and the couple is excited about what comes next. Family is their top priority, and although several of their children live out of state, their youngest son lives in nearby Picayune and is poised to take over the business someday.
In the meantime, the Parkers appreciate the recognition they’ve received for the homes they’ve built and their contributions to the community — including sponsorship of CASA events like the gala, poker run and red beans cookoff. They also value the many former clients who have remained friends long after their builds were completed.
“We have put blood, sweat and tears into all our projects,” April says. “Our dedication has paid off, and our family is very proud of all we have accomplished. We are truly building a legacy for our children and grandchildren to be proud of.”