Women Making Waves: Debbie Parks

Debbie Parks

Marketing Director and Buyer, Parks Marina

Education: Associate’s Degree in Marketing and Broadcast Journalism

Years in the marine industry: 17

Debbie Parks

Debbie Parks

Positions held at Parks Marina: I started off in F & I. I had no experience in this, but I am a people person and was willing to learn. I LOVED meeting all the people that bought boats from us. It is a fun industry; I used to hug people when they came in my office because I was so excited for their new purchase! I eventually transitioned into marketing because it is so natural for me. Among many things, I created the Parks Marina newsletter which has a publication close to 10,000 now. When we started the Barefoot [Bar] in 2002, I helped manage the staff and more. To get the business running, I bussed tables, waitressed and changed garbages, a “whatever it takes” attitude. As our business grew, I started the Barefoot and Parks Marina clothing and souvenir store. This has opened up the door for my position as a buyer and designer. It has been fun to see that part of the business grow. I still manage all aspects of the Barefoot and Parks Marina clothing store as well as marina marketing and events. My plate is full!

What are some of the biggest lessons you have learned working in the marine industry? It is very seasonal, especially in the Midwest. You cannot lose your focus during season or it could determine the profitability of your entire year. It can also be very difficult to staff a seasonal business. We are lucky to have very dedicated employees – a team I am so proud to be part of. It takes a lot of team work to accomplish what we do!

If you had to choose one memorable achievement in the marine industry, what would it be and why? Definitely receiving the Best Marketing award from Boating Industry Magazine during the Top 100 gala. It is nice to be recognized, especially among a group of that caliber. It was awesome! Later we would receive top honors for Best Events and Best Digital Strategy.

What advice do you have for women starting their careers in the marine industry? It’s definitely a man’s world, but it’s so much fun. Find your niche and run with it. It made me work even harder to earn their respect, and I think I have.

What would you be doing if you weren’t working in the boating industry? I told my husband that I would run Jimmy Buffett’s marketing department, that guy is killing it!

What are some of your favorite non-boating hobbies? Mostly spending quality time with my five-year-old son, he loves to fish. If I can put a worm on a hook and take a fish off a hook, I can do pretty much anything right?

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