You probably recognize TTI brands such as Hoover, Dirt Devil, Oreck, Milwaukee, and Ryobi from major retailers or even from your own garage or closet. But how do those brands get their reputation and shelf space in a highly competitive, global market? Beau Parker (MS in Marketing, ’97) can tell you how.
Parker is the general manager of Oreck at TTI, an industrial company that manages top brands in sectors ranging from power tools and outdoor power equipment to floor care appliances. His previous positions included serving as president of accessories at Stanley Black & Decker; vice president of sales, marketing, and international divisions at Stanley; and vice president of sales at Hunter Fan.
“After Oreck was purchased by TTI in 2013, I was offered the opportunity to lead and grow the business,” he says. “The potential is significant and very exciting, given its 50-year history of premium and high-performance brand heritage, and Oreck customers love the brand and the service they get from local stores.”
Brand heritage is also a big reason Parker chose Johns Hopkins for his graduate business degree. “It’s an incredible reputation,” he says. “If I’m in Europe or Asia, everybody knows Johns Hopkins. It’s Marketing 101.”
It’s also a family affair. Parker’s father and sister went to Johns Hopkins. His father studied business, earning his master’s degree in the Evening College during the late 1960s, and his sister earned her undergraduate business degree from JHU in 1996.
A self-described “marketing and growth guy” who was already based in Baltimore when he chose to hone his business chops, Parker took classes at each of the several locations in the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., corridor where Johns Hopkins business courses are offered.
Among the most memorable courses he took for his MS degree, he says, was the capstone class in which “we had to put a plan together and a presentation for a given company. In my group’s case we more or less said they needed to change their strategy. They went bankrupt a couple of years later, so I think we were right.”
Parker also fondly remembers a course in which he competed against classmates during an assignment to run extended computer simulations of real businesses. As the academic term went on, companies matured, and the students learned lessons about profit and loss. Those lessons helped transform this “marketing guy” into a leader who grows businesses profitably.
“You can love to sell or market something, or be a product guy who loves to create something,” he observes, “but you have to understand how what you’re doing impacts the short-, medium-, and long-term [profit and loss] and balance sheet of what you’re involved in. That’s what makes you a businessperson.”
Parker emphasizes to business students that it is critical as a leader to know the business at both the retailer and consumer levels. “That knowledge enables you to build a plan based on market opportunities, assume and plan for challenges, and make sure the plan is very clear and visible to your staff and leadership, relative to key strategic and financial priorities,” he says. “When you’ve done a good job of developing and explaining the plan, the whole team is aligned and ready to execute, and when you’ve hired the best people with industry experience on your team and equipped them with a well-designed strategy, you’ve got a plan to succeed.”
– Sam Hopkins