ATD NextGen helps prepare the dealers of tomorrow by giving them the tools to share ideas and look for ways to improve their business operations. The program came from the need to cultivate future leaders who are early in their career and interested in becoming “influencers,” not simply in their dealerships, but also in the industry and on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures.
Mark T. Parker is the current ATD NextGen chairman, a role he has served in since February 2021. The third-generation dealer is the director of sales and marketing at Baltimore Potomac Truck Centers in Linthicum Heights, Md. Parker began his career with various roles in the dealership’s parts department before moving into medium-duty truck sales and later heavy-duty truck sales.
In addition to his service to ATD NextGen, Parker also serves on the Mack North American Dealer Advisory Council as representative for the Northeast Region and is a board member for the Maryland Motor Truck Association. “I enjoy giving back to the industry,” said Parker, who works with the ATD board to develop the next generation of commercial truck dealership leaders and managers.
Below are edited excerpts from a recent interview with Mark Parker.
Why are you in this industry?
Trucking is “in my blood.” I am part of our family business that was founded by my grandfather and expanded by my father. I grew up in the trucking industry and have enjoyed watching it evolve and change. I’m proud to be a part of it and to carry on the tradition in our family business.
What is the history of your Company?
The company was founded when my grandfather, Ed Parker, purchased the Mack Trucks factory branch in Baltimore, Md. in 1973, creating Baltimore Mack Trucks, Inc. We later expanded into the Washington, DC market by acquiring the Mack dealership, which was renamed to Potomac Mack Sales and Service. My father Steve Parker took over the company and we expanded again with new facilities in western Maryland and northern Virginia. Our portfolio has also grown, and now includes franchises for Mack Trucks, Volvo Trucks and Hino Trucks throughout our five locations.
In 2014, the Baltimore Potomac Truck Centers was formed as a holding company to coordinate the management and operations of all locations with a singular approach. Subsequently, the dealerships were renamed to either Baltimore Truck Center or Potomac Truck Center. Also, in 2014, a new division was formed: Potomac Truck Leasing, which serves as our dealer-owned truck leasing and rental company.
What is your 10-year professional goal?
I’d like to continue stepping into larger roles within our organization, with the aim to navigate and grow our dealership group through an evolving landscape in the trucking industry. Something that must be done while respecting the traditions and values established by our family and our fantastic employees throughout our history.
What would you change about your career path?
I would have liked to have spent more time in the service department to better understand the fundamental technologies inside our trucks. Today’s new truck salesperson and dealership management needs to wear many hats. One of which is a technical consultant to help customers understand and properly spec and maintain their modern trucks for optimum performance while balancing the longevity, reliability and maintenance costs.
Any words of wisdom for those who follow?
It is hard to say this early in my career. Right now, I’m mostly absorbing as much wisdom as I can from our team and our friends and colleagues. Check back with me in 25 years and hopefully I’ve gained some wisdom of my own!
Who influenced/es you in your professional life and why?
My father Steve Parker, who I’ve watched grow our company successfully and profitably through his career while maintaining a steadfast commitment to the customer, and additionally continuing to engage with the community and industry in meaningful ways.
On a more personal level…….
What was your first car?
Toyota 4Runner (Indestructible! Believe me, I tried.)
What is your favorite food?
Anything but mushrooms
What is your favorite vacation?
An Alaska cruise with multiple stops along the coast
Are you currently reading a book?
With two toddlers at home, I can’t say I’ve found the time! Maybe next year (or next decade).
What is your first choice for an alternate career?
What’s not to like about trucks?!
Facebook? Yes plus good old fashioned phone calls