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Krannert alum Roland Parrish honored by U.S. Department of Commerce

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Roland Parrish

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) recently honored Krannert alumnus Roland Parrish (BSIM ’75, MSM ’76) and his company with its 2017 Minority Business Enterprise of the Year award for overall performance, exceeding industry standards, demonstrating significant growth through job creation, showing a commitment to social responsibility, and exemplifying strong community involvement.

Parrish is the president, CEO and owner of Parrish McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd., which owns 29 McDonald’s franchises with total revenues of more than $63 million annually. The average franchisee owns five restaurants.  

It’s the latest in a string of honors for Parrish, who earlier this year was surprised with a Lifetime Achievement award from the Dallas Business Journal at its 2017 Minority Business Leader Awards. The DBJ ranks Parrish’s company as the 9th-largest minority owned business in North Texas.

Parrish, who also has received Krannert’s Business Leadership Award and the Burton D. Morgan Entrepreneurship Award, credits much of his success to his mentor, Dr. Cornell A. Bell.

Bell, who retired in 2006 and died in 2009, devoted more than 37 years of his career recruiting and mentoring minority students as the director of the Business Opportunity Program (BOP), which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2018.

Parrish was the first student Bell recruited when he took over the fledgling program, persuading him to switch his major at Purdue from engineering to industrial management. He still cherishes the letter he received as Bell was recovering from open-heart surgery.

“He and his wife didn’t have children, so he called those of us in BOP ‘his children.’ But I got a letter from him in 2000, and he told me I was his No. 1 son,” says Parrish.

In addition to its recent honors, Parrish’s company has been among Black Enterprise magazine’s BE 100 as one of the Top 100 Black Owned Businesses in the U.S. for 12 consecutive years. Parrish also serves the National Black McDonald’s Operators Association (NBMOA) as immediate past chair and CEO.

His philanthropic contributions include a $2 million gift to Purdue to renovate the former Management and Economics Library, which was dedicated in April 2012 as the Roland G. Parrish Library of Management and Economics. Parrish also supports Purdue athletics and the Krannert School, as well as funding a scholarship in Bell’s memory.

In addition, Parrish sponsors McMiracle on Highway 67, an annual event that provides Dallas area fifth graders with new bicycles. In honor of his parents, he also constructed and established the John H. and Marie Parrish Medical Center in Fort Portal, Uganda, which provides treatment to patients with treatable ailments and cares for orphans whose parents have died due HIV/AIDS.

About the Cornell A. Bell Business Opportunity Program (BOP)

The Krannert School established the Business Opportunity Program (BOP) in April 1968 to increase diversity and give all students access to a world-class management education. The program was one of the first and most successful of its kind at a major business school, and the first at Purdue.

Dr. Cornell A. Bell was hired to run BOP in its second year, and in 1996 the program was renamed the Cornell A. Bell Business Opportunity Program in his honor. Under his leadership, BOP has grown into a nationally recognized program that recruits, enrolls, educates, and provides support for both undergraduate and graduate students pursuing management careers. There are now more than 1,400 BOP alumni worldwide, and the program boasts an 87 percent graduation rate and a 100 percent job placement rate.