Every so often, our editorial staff selects one aftermarket industry professional to get to know a little better. Participants are asked to respond to a series of questions that can be answered in about the same amount of time you might spend chatting at the office coffee pot or waiting for an elevator. In this installment of “5 Minutes With,” we get to know a little more about Clay Parks, VP of strategic development for Bar’s Products.
What was your first job in the industry?
My first “real” job was working at a retail auto parts store as a counterperson. I was doing this while going to college for electrical engineering. After graduating with an associate degree in electrical engineering, I decided the automotive side was more of what I wanted to do. I then went to work for an independent traditional auto parts store where I worked the counter, did outside sales and also ran the machine shop for a period of time. After a couple of years I was tired of working basically seven days a week, so [I] went to work for an OEM dealership as the parts manager. I was not there very long when a job opened up with the current chemical company I work for now, and that was 28 years ago.
What would you say you like most about your current position?
I am able to work with a team where we not only research vehicle issues, but develop products, then also support our sales team in selling those products. The most rewarding thing is when we hear from customers how a product we made saved their vacation, or allowed them to use a vehicle that otherwise was not drivable.
Did you initially intend to pursue a career in the aftermarket? If not, what drew you to the industry and what keeps you here?
I had mentioned this above that it all started with a job while in college. What I did not mention is I had been working on vehicles years before, on my dad’s small fleet of construction vehicles and some of his off-road toys. During high school I took two years of paint and auto body classes earning an ASE certification for both, but it was enough to tell me that was a good hobby, but not what I wanted to do the rest of my life. My first car in high school was a Mercury Cougar that I built from multiple cars, rebuilt the motor and painted the car before my senior year.
What do you do when not at work?
The relaxing thing for me is working in the garage. I usually have multiple projects going at one time. Current project is a 1960 Ford F-250. I have put on a 2011 Super Duty frame with a Dana 60 front and Dana 80 rear axle. The chassis has been boxed in, all the holes welded up, and is 4-link front and back. I hope to have it completed next spring to be ready to drive on nice days and play in the Silver Lake Sand Dunes.
What one word best sums up your personality?
Perfectionist. This is a blessing and a curse at times.
What kind of car do you drive?
Current everyday vehicle is a new Ford Bronco. It was ordered in July of 2020, and it was built in July of 2021, received shortly thereafter. They are hard to come by so I had this one spec’ed out with options so I know it could be built with the parts they were going to have readily available. My previous car was a Ford Raptor that I installed a supercharger on, upgraded shocks, custom roll bar and bumpers.
What was your first car?
As mentioned above it was a Cougar. Then while going to college I bought a Bronco II, lifted it and installed a V-8 engine. Drove it until rolled it on I-75 with my to-be future wife, but that is all another story.
Who is on your dream dinner party guest list?
Let’s see … Henry Ford, Carroll Shelby, Bob Glidden and my Grandpa Carl Mitchell.
If you could time-travel, to where and what in era would you want to visit?
If it was a short visit, why not go a few hundred years in the future? If I could go somewhere to stay, would probably be late 1800s. With the mechanical advancements happening at that time, it would have been awesome to be part of the first vehicle development.