Robert Parish, BS’88, MBA’90, and John Parish, BS’90
Cardinals baseball and Rawlings Sporting Goods have been important contributors to life in St. Louis, Mo., for more than 100 years. So it wasn’t out of the ordinary when Rawlings’ employees formed a relay to deliver the game ball 12 miles east to Busch Stadium on opening day this year. The procession epitomized the connection the two organizations have with each other and the community.
Robert and John Parish understand the power of that connection. The Tullahoma, Tenn., natives are the fourth generation of their family in the sporting goods business. Worth Sporting Goods, founded by their great-grandfather in 1912, is one of several sports brands, along with Rawlings, that is part of Jarden Corp. The brothers, who both majored in human and organizational development at Peabody, utilize their Vanderbilt education in their management of Worth and Rawlings, which have been integrated since 2003.
“I learned from Peabody professors Bob Innes and Terry Deal that everything starts with people,” said Robert, who serves as president and CEO of Jarden Team Sports. “If you don’t put people first and put your soul on the line and commit completely to what you’re doing, it won’t work for long.”
“Professor Innes knew everybody,” John added. “He made it a point to know the students so he could get the full picture of the benefits of the program.”
That commitment to people carries over into a new line of football helmets that Rawlings began to develop in 2011 and into a partnership with the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center started the same year. Rawlings now sponsors educational opportunities for parents, coaches, trainers and athletes in Middle Tennessee through the Sports Concussion Center.
“Rawlings doesn’t just provide product,” Robert said. “We provide leadership in the industry. We developed our Sports Concussion
Cooperative as a way to elevate education and awareness—like how to fit equipment properly. When we saw what Vanderbilt was doing, it mirrored what we were trying to accomplish in the community.”
John Parish doesn’t work directly with the Sports Concussion Center, but he’s indirectly involved as vice president of manufacturing operations.
He’s responsible for the facility that assembles the Quantum and Impulse series of helmets, including a helmet developed for the Vanderbilt football team. “They’re assembled to order, and we do all the testing to make sure they’re compliant with specifications,” he explained.
Their message mirrors that of the Vanderbilt Sports Concussion Center—they want to take care of athletes from professional to student and give them the same state-of-the-art care through their line of equipment.
“The better we educate parents, coaches and trainers about product functionality and fitting, as well as the proper way to play the game, the more we will eliminate the fear parents might have when putting their kids in contact sports,” Robert said.