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Bob Smith: I served as a staff psychologist at the James A. Haley Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Tampa, Florida, and was in private practice as a clinical psychologist from 1975 until 1986.
Cathy Smith: I worked at the VA Hospital for 10 years as a psychiatric nurse.
Bob Smith: I didn’t want to be in clinical practice forever, and yearned to do something on my own. Cathy and I thought of opening a cookware store like Williams-Sonoma, or some other type of business. PAR was more of an experiment.
Bob Smith: We released our first product in 1978. It was the scoring keys for supplemental scales of the MMPI. Today we sell approximately 400 products on our Web site and through our catalog.
Cathy Smith: We started out with $2,251 in capital. Initially, we ran the business on our kitchen table. Bob’s Uncle “Rip” used to come over to the house and help out.
Cathy Smith: Of course! We are very sentimental. The table is now in the break room of our distribution center. We also still have the Selectric typewriter we used to start the business.
Bob Smith: My father ran his own CPA firm for many years. I’m sure that had an influence on my decision to go out on my own. I always wanted to create something of my own. I was also inspired by Tom Peter’s book, A Passion for Excellence. I still have the dog-eared copy of that book on my office bookshelf.
Bob Smith: Cathy and I are able to work together because we share a mutual respect for one another. We share similar values and are passionate about many of the same things.
Cathy Smith: Bob runs the business and the final decisions are his. Only one person is responsible in the end, and that’s Bob. That is the difference between leaders and bosses.
Bob Smith: For the first 8 years, Cathy and I took no compensation, and we reinvested everything we made into PAR. At one point in the early 1980s, we thought the business might not survive. We managed things very conservatively, which helped us survive during leaner times.
Bob Smith: We presently have 58 full-time employees.
Bob Smith: We try to take very good care of our staff. For the most part, when people start working here, they want to stay, and we want them to stay. We have 24 employees who have been here over 10 years. We know that in order to expect our employees to take good care of our Customers, it is important for us to take good care of them.
Bob Smith: We hire smart people who are very conscientious. We surround ourselves with people we want to be around. PAR employees are our extended family. You must invest up front, and find the right people to succeed.