For the last 24 years, customers of Harbin Lumber of Athens have walked in to be greeted by Brenda Parr’s friendly face. Brenda is many things to Harbin Lumber, and she is the backbone of the excellent customer service that our Athens Customers have come to expect.
As long as Brenda has been with Harbin, it’s hard to imagine a time without her. But prior to coming to Harbin, Brenda worked for a jewelry store for 16-1/2 years, followed by a 12 1/2 year run at Gold Kist AgriServices. At Gold Kist, Brenda started out doing all the paperwork for the business including the AR, AP, HR, Payroll, Insurance and balancing the books. “By the time I left, I was doing everything from sales, ordering, receiving, loading and unloading trucks, repairing, and delivering materials,” Brenda said. “I even installed poultry equipment at night.”
Brenda joined Harbin as the Office Manager, responsible for all receiving and making sure that all reports were checked daily and filed, along with keeping up with all the paperwork and cycle counts. Along the way, she has taken on a lot more responsibilities. Over the years she has added sales, quotes, checking trucks, and anything else that needed to be done. She performs a lot of the behind the scenes tasks that not a lot of people realize happens or is necessary such as PO reconciliation, researching credits, and researching how payments are applied.
“I always try to help out in any way I can,” she said. “Customer Service is, I guess, one of my strong suits. I enjoy helping with any problems that may arise and making things right.”
General Manager Todd Lord credits Brenda for her adaptability and drive. “As the old saying goes, behind every good man is a great woman. In our male-heavy industry, she’s the backbone and our Mother Hen. She has adapted as technology has changed and as our business operations have changed,” he said. “She not only has embraced changes as they come to her, she proactively researches and has taught herself on many occasions.”
“She takes care of us, lifts us up when we need it and scolds us when we need it too,” said Lord. “She has her own set of responsibilities but can do it all. She knows everybody, she is very knowledgeable of how the business operates and how the company operates. She’s held in high regard and is well respected by everyone from the top management of the company to her coworkers in Athens.”
Brenda and her husband Joe have been married for 22 years. She has one daughter, Christie, and one Grandson, Jordan, who will be 21 in March. She also has a 20-year-old nephew, Jake, who is more like her grandson since he has lived with her off and on all his life.
In her spare time, Brenda loves to sew, do crafts, cook and ramble through thrift stores and flea markets.
“I feel like everyone at Harbin is part of my family, ” said Brenda. “I have known many of the younger guys since they were born and feel like they are partially mine. People ask me, since I turned 69 in January, when I am going to retire, but the truth is, I can’t imagine not coming to work.”
We can’t imagine it either, Brenda. Thank you for all you do for us!