By Veronica Sandate Craker
In 1996 Paul Parish was in need of an automatic lift to get his daughter Ali, who was born with cerebral palsy, into their vehicle.
“There wasn’t anybody here that did it so I went out and got a dealership and put my own lift in,” Parish said.
What Parish didn’t realize at the time was he had just created his own mobility specialty business. Parish said before he brought Paul Parish Limited to the area, most people had to go to Spokane or Seattle for services.
It wasn’t long before his part-time business became a full-time job.
Today Paul Parish Limited, at 6400 W. Okanogan Ave., still of mobility products for cars, but has also expanded to provide stair lifts and wheelchairs, and do maintenance on mobility service vehicles.
But after more than 15 years of juggling two businesses, a family, Parish, who also serves on the Kennewick City Council, is selling Paul Parish LTD.
“I just need to slow down a little bit, go smell the roses a little bit — I just don’t have the time,” Parish said. “When you own your own business it’s a seven-day-a-week venture.”
Parish’s long-time friends John and Vauna Culver, will buy the business. The couple’s sons have worked for Parish for more than three years, but their first meeting was actually during the Water Follies. At the time Parish, who serves on the Water Follies’ board was working in the pits.
“I got to know John when he came down to the pits and wanted to help,” Parish said.
The two became friends and eventually John Culver was running the pits without Parish.
Along with the new owners will come a new name, Specialty Mobility Products.
The new owners will take on all services offered and continue to employ Parish’s three full-time employees.
Parish will lease the property to them, with all lease payments going toward the purchase, which include the 7,800-sq.-ft. building.
But customers shouldn’t be shocked if they still see Parish working around the office.
“There’s just a lot of things to learn about,” Parish said. “There’s just so much paperwork because it is medical, and so I’ll stay here until they’re comfortable.”
Parish said his business has kept him busy and he predicts business will only grow in the future.
“The baby boomers are here,” Parish said. “Everyone bought a two-story house because that’s what people build anymore, so they built two stories and then once you turn 65 you say ‘why did I ever buy this damn thing with stairs in it.’”
Parish said his fondest memories of the business will be all the people he’s helped through his work. Over the years, he’s worked with veterans and the Knights of Columbus. Parish often takes a lightly used wheelchairs and refurbishes them for those who need it.
“It can almost be a brand new wheelchair that Medicare or the VA bought, but there’s really no way to resell it because the people who really need it don’t have any insurance, and don’t have any money,” he said.
Despite stepping back from his full-time business Parish will still be active in the city council and continues to run a second business that handles crane certifications.
“I always say I’m retiring for the third time, but I probably won’t retire until I can’t go to work,” he said. “I’ll always be doing something because that’s just how I’m geared.”
To learn more about Specialty Mobility Products visit www.specialtymobilityproducts.com.