2006 Michael Bunn Memorial Rising Star Award
Dr. J. A. Parker-Herriot
Our winner of the Michael Bunn, Sr. Rising Star Award for 2006 is Dr. J. A. Parker-Herriot. She grew up the youngest of five siblings in a family headed by her father, a Baptist minister. Her father and mother provided much love and support for their children but they also set the bar of expectations high. Following a degree from Mercer University, Dr. Parker attended The Pennsylvania College of Optometry graduating in 1993, adding a Doctor to a family who already had a daughter who is an attorney in the U. S. Attorneys office in Macon, a son who is an attorney in the Jones-Day law offices in Atlanta, another son who is a retired Army Captain and a daughter who is an IT specialist in D.C.
Dr. Parker-Herriott plots her life in five year increments and had a plan to open her own office within five years of graduating. She moved to Savannah to begin work with Dr. Dandy, a well known local Optometrist. In 1998 after nearly three years with Pearle Vision she became the first approved applicant of the Small Business Administration’s Pre-Qualification loan program in the state of Georgia and began her own business. One goal was met so it was time to set another; moving the business into a building she owned.
Her first venture was located in an office that had previously been occupied by another optometrist. The space was well situated to begin work with few renovations. Because of her firm vision, the practice grew and an Associate Doctor was soon brought in to help handle the volume. The space that was once a dream come true soon became too crowded.
Dr. Parker-Herriot purchased a parcel of land at 321 West Montgomery Crossroads with the intention of one day building a new clinic to house the business. That day came quickly when the landlord raised the rent to what was deemed as unreasonable terms. She contacted the Small Business Assistance Corporation once again to assist in financing the construction of her own clinic.
SBAC structured a loan package that included an SBA 504 and 7(a) loan guarantee for the construction of a 6,700 sq. ft clinic, acquisition of equipment, relocation, and working capital. SBAC found a willing partner in Ryan Martin of The Coastal Bank who came to understand the dream of Dr. Parker-Herriott and signed on to the deal. Approval from SBA came in October of 2005 and construction began soon after. Now fourteen months later the business is operating a state of the art clinic and continues to provide needed service to her clients.
Her staff has grown from four when she opened, to a staff of ten supporting two doctors, with a third doctor soon to come on board. She is active in the community and provides free eye screening each year for school age children from May through September.
Everyone knows that life happens even with the best laid plans. In 1997 Dr. Parker-Herriott met and married Jeffery Herriott who retired from the Army as a warrant officer piloting Apache helicopters and is now a Captain with Air Tran. They have two children, the oldest now 4 years old and the youngest is 17 months.