David Parkhill and Sullivan-Parkhill’s Century-Long Legacy
Above photo by: Champaign News Gazette
In the world of business, achieving the milestone of 100 years is an exceptional feat, especially in the ever-evolving automotive industry. Two families have navigated through the transformation of the car business over the past century, finding success and uplifting Central Illinois communities along the way.
David Parkhill is president of Sullivan-Parkhill and chairman of the Illinois Automobile Dealers Association. He attributes the dealership’s century-long success to the dedication of his team, especially during tough times.
According to Parkhill, the key to success has been consistent leadership and making hard and good decisions along the way. “Our family had to learn to survive through tough times and appreciate the decisions necessary to endure and survive,” he said.
“There’s been some good leadership in the company over the years and we managed to keep those people active in the business decisions, which adds to our perspective and helps us tap into the knowledge that comes with long-term experience,” Parkhill said.
The dedication of employees has been another cornerstone of the dealership’s success. Some have been with the company for decades, carrying on the legacy of their families. “We have quite a few long-term employees here at Sullivan-Parkhill. I have a technician that has been with us since the 70’s and a current team member whose dad worked for us beforehand. The loyalty of our long-term and multigenerational team members speaks to how interwoven the dealership and our community is.”
A central theme in the dealership’s story is the commitment to giving back by supporting various organizations over the years from local charities to high school sports teams to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“We have supported little league teams, pee wee football, and the Community Chest (later United Way)” says Bergen Parkhill, David Parkhill’s father and previous president of Parkhill Motor Sales. “When Oldsmobile introduced the Althea Award nationally honoring outstanding women, we started it here in Champaign, Urbana.
The increasing need for technical training locally was the incentive for our support of Parkhill Technology Center at Parkland College. We believe that vocational education in all trades is an opportunity to train young people for a career in the working world.”
As the automotive industry continues to evolve, David Parkhill emphasizes the importance of maintaining a personal connection with customers. “Whether it’s traditional or electric vehicles, the dealership aims to be the trusted partner for customers’ personal transportation needs. It’s all about the personal connection.”
David Parkhill’s journey in the automotive industry is deeply intertwined with a rich family history. Over time, he noticed the importance of preserving the dealership’s legacy, the need to document and commemorate this history led to the creation of a book “Reflecting on 100 Years” that encapsulates 100 years of stories, challenges, and achievements.
Supplies are limited so if you are interested in receiving a copy of Parkhill’s book, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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