This day started out like any other, helping around the house, playing with friends and even getting into a little bit of trouble, but at around 4 pm this day in 1967, a legacy began…
Roger Parks, your average 13-year-old saw his dad coming home from work and noticed he was carrying the materials he had been waiting for! Finally, his childhood dream was becoming a reality, a small wooden fishing boat made with his own two hands.
Ever since he could remember, he wanted to build boats, just like his dad. In this small town in Arkansas, the local boat plant was just about the only livelihood. In fact, it was quite a shock on a day when at age 10 or so, Roger realized that there were people that did not make their living building boats. That was fine for them, but not for Roger! With those final pieces of scrap materials, enthusiasm and determination, Roger’s career as a boat builder and the foundation for Blue Wave Boats had begun.
Now his first creation was a little rough around the edges, but it gave Roger something to perfect upon… And perfect, he did! With each boat came more and more ideas. How could he improve the design? How could he improve the process? During the years he continued to create and develop new designs, honing his skills in boat building. Early on in Arkansas, he helped his father to launch a small custom shop building boats known as the “Rebel”, “The Confederate” and a boat called the “Sidewinder” for a small dealer in Oklahoma. To this day you can still recognize their boats by the coast guard assigned HIN# (Hull Identification Number) PSF on the stern of the boat. For the next 6 years, this father-son team worked side-by-side. Just when things were getting a little rough, Roger came upon the unfortunate day that a son is never prepared for. His father had a heart attack and passed away. Roger continued on as President of the company for the next 4-years, but the time came to move on with his life and his families. Another brother Mike then took over the family business and with plans of opening up a small boat repair shop, Roger, his wife Pam and their two small children set out on this new adventure that led them to Oklahoma.
Shortly before their arrival in the “Sooner State” the unexpected happened. Investors convinced Roger that instead of opening a repair shop, he should use his talent and experience to start a boat manufacturing plant here in Oklahoma. Roger along with his wife Pam as always, were up for a challenge. They learned a long time ago that when you have family and others that believe in you, you can accomplish anything, so with a handshake agreement, they were off. For the next 8 years, the Park’s family operated with the investors a small but successful boat-building shop.
After over 20 years of dedicated service, working with 2 small boat manufacturers and attaining the title of President at each, you would think that Roger would be pleased with his accomplishments. Maybe ready to retire? Maybe step back a little and enjoy the sweetness of success? Not in a million years. Roger and Pam have always looked for ways to improve upon anything and everything possible and in 1992 came to a realization. Even though his wife and brother were working right beside him, something bigger had been missing. In the organizations he has been employed with, a true sense of family and teamwork, a quality-first attitude, safety, benefits and employee loyalty led his list of items that needed improvement. He now understood that ownership would be the only way to create this ideal working environment. On September 10, 1992, in the small town of Checotah, Oklahoma, Parks Manufacturing Inc. DBA Blue Wave Boats was born.
The Parks family agreed at the start of this venture that producing a quality boat that met the specific needs of the customers was their key focus. So Roger sat down with a homemade drawing board in a garage-sized shop and began to pour through detailed information he had compiled for years. He had been particularly fascinated by customer needs and special requests, and thank goodness, never threw anything away! It did not take long to realize that he had the perfect resource to establish the parameters for his new designs and to create a unique boat that provided what people really wanted and needed.
From the moment Roger and Pam told dealers they had done business with for years that they would be building their own boats, the dealers let them know they would be more than happy to handle their boats whenever they were ready. Their loyalty and support were overwhelming and helped the Parks family proceed with confidence. This also allowed Roger the time he felt he needed to continue to develop his designs.
One chilly evening out in the shop, Pam Parks remembers watching Roger working on his new creations and their sons Richard and Steven, then 14 and 11 years old, were coming up with ideas for a name for their boats. They had been trying to come up with a name they could agree upon for weeks now. Then all of a sudden Steven says “Blue Wave! What do you think?” They all just kind of sat there for a minute. “Blue Wave,” she thought, “not bad at all.” It was unanimous! Shortly after, the “wave” began to appear magically in the design. It wasn’t long before the actual hull of the boat had a wave, the console had a wave, the seat base, and many other components, which added an originality flair and created continuity in the designs.
While Roger, his brother Greg and son, Richard were putting the finishing touches on their 1st Blue Wave boat, Pam and Steven were setting up an office in their mobile home and completing the final paperwork to register their designs and logo. In just 3 short months, the entire Parks family saw their dreams becoming a reality.
On December 19th, 1992 Roger and Pam loaded up there one and only Blue Wave 189 Classic and headed for a small dealership in Rosenberg, Texas. The dealer took delivery of this special package in preparation for the debut of the new line at the Houston Boat Show. Just a few days later the Parks’ were headed back home with a check in hand and now needed to build 2 more boats for other dealers to take to their upcoming shows.
Through hard work, dedication and word of mouth the orders continued to increase and a dream became reality.
Throughout the years Blue Wave has continued to evolve its product offerings and improve its design abilities while maintaining its core principals. From the original Classic and Super Tunnel design to the most recent award winning Purebay Fully Liner designs, they continue to surpass customer expectations and stay ahead of the pack. In 2006 Parks Mfg Inc. relocated its operations to a brand new state of the art 165,000 sq ft facility in Seminole, OK so that they could expand their BW offerings and diversify. As the family grew and Pam and Roger went from being just Mom and Dad to Grandma and Grandpa, in 2010 the family saw a unique diversification opportunity to expand from the long heritage of Saltwater Bay boat to also include Silver Wave Pontoons. Since launching this division they have continued to bring awesome new features and designs to this market as well. As Richard and Steven continue the traditions and principles set forth from their childhoods, we will continue to see new and innovative products coming to the market.
My introduction to the Blue Wave brand was in 1996 while on a guided “cast and blast” trip in Port Aransas Texas. At the time I had been involved in the marine industry for several years and one of the first things I wanted to check out is what boats we were going to be using that week. This was my first Blue Wave sighting and little did I know through serendipity there would be many more in the near future. For the remainder of the trip, we spent up to 6 hours per day in a 22 Super Tunnel catching trout under the birds, reds on the marsh flats and shooting limits of ducks. No matter what we did or where we went our boat handled with precision and comfort.
In 1998 I met the Parks and knew from the beginning that they were a special family and that a long relationship had just been formed. When you first meet Roger you can almost hear the gears spinning in his head constantly thinking of engineer and design ideas that not only he can put on paper but build with his own two hands. I cannot picture Pam without a smile on her face. She is alive with energy, warmth and has a magnetic personality, to say the least. Richard and Steven both have a combination of their parent’s traits and I have always felt that if we grew up in the same town we would have all been friends and run in the same circles.
The first boat show we worked together was one of the most impressive teams I have seen to date. Watching a Father, Mother and their two sons speaking with customers as a family is an awe inspiring sight. For the following 8 years, I enjoyed working with each one of them whether it be creating new models, colors, layouts, sales training and any other projects the Parks family felt would benefit Blue Wave Boats and their customers.