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Enthusiasm on the job leads to business ownership

Pascha Parks was nearly a decade early when she achieved her goal of owning an advertising business by age 40. She was just 31 when she bought 25 percent ownership of The JPG Group, a regional ad agency.

Pascha Parks
Pascha Parks (left), a vice president/partner with JPG Group, picks rocks with her children, Carsen, 5, and Jazlyn, 9, at Leif Erickson Park in Duluth. (Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com)

Pascha Parks was nearly a decade early when she achieved her goal of owning an advertising business by age 40. She was just 31 when she bought 25 percent ownership of The JPG Group, a regional ad agency.

Reaching that goal was a huge milestone for Parks, who continues to set high benchmarks for herself.

The diminutive, energetic Parks is "very goal oriented," says her friend and former colleague Barb Darland. "She's got the most positive energy of anyone I've ever met."

Parks was born that way, Darland says. The Carlton native wrote commercials as a child and earned a bachelor's degree from St. Cloud (Minn.) State University in three years. After she graduated, she talked the WestmorelandFlint advertising agency in Duluth into hiring her fresh out of school.

After working at the agency's interactive division for five years, where she met Darland, she was marketing manager at Maurices. Then, with no banking experience, she applied for a marketing job with Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union. Instead of landing that job, she was invited to become branch manager. Loan sales went from $70,000 a month to more than five times that over the 18 months she was there, Parks says.

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But when a position opened for a Duluth-based account executive at the Virginia, Minn.-based JPG Group, her urge to return to advertising resurfaced and she jumped at the opportunity. At first, she worked at home in Cloquet, but in October 2004, JPG bought the Von Goertz & Van Hove agency in Canal Park and she became head of the Duluth JPG office, which now has 10 staff members.

In January 2008, she became vice president and a partner with Jim Glowacki, who formerly was sole owner.

"She inspired people here [in the Duluth office]," Glowacki says, describing her as having excellent intuition and always being willing to do anything -- with great enthusiasm.

"She's got a lot of street smarts for her age," he says. JPG launched a sign-

making business, Summit Signs, in November 2008 in which she's also part owner. Parks is 33.

Parks also has made a name for herself in the community. She is on the board of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce and helped launch FUSE Duluth, the chamber's organization for young professionals. Last year she was FUSE Duluth's person of the year.

She has volunteered for many fundraisers for organizations including the Miller-Dwan Foundation, Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra and Minnesota Ballet. She was voted "most enthusiastic" for her salsa dance at the ballet's Celebrity Dance Challenge fundraiser last spring.

"I see [volunteer work] as part of my job, but I see it as good for the community," Parks says.

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"She is an inspiration to others in the community," Peggy Anderson wrote in her nomination of Parks for the "20 Under 40" award.

Parks has two children, daughter, Jazlyn, 9, and son, Carsen, 5. The flexibility of her job is a huge lifestyle advantage for a single mother, she says.

Parks has set more goals for herself. She wants to write a book, earn a master's degree and teach marketing at a university level when she's in her 50s.

If those are lofty goals, keep in mind they're for 20 years from now. And who would have imagined that the kid who wrote commercials for fun would be an ad agency owner at age 31?

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