Jim Palko, Chairman of the Board and founder, has a natural born aptitude for business and sales. He worked as a sales manager for a number of companies in a variety of industries. His success in sales helped those companies sell or merge with their larger competitors. Many times after a corporate buy-out or takeover, he found himself looking for new employment. He decided to build a business for himself, one where he would be in control of his own employment and ultimately be rewarded for his hard work.
One summer, Jim noticed an advertisement in a Chicago newspaper. The ad read something along the lines of... Help Wanted, be your own boss, start your own business, exclusive territory, small investment to get started (this was way before all of the scams and fraud we see today). There was no internet or job posting sites, no Linked-In or Facebook; employers advertised in the classified section of newspapers. Jim answered the ad, borrowed the "small" investment capital, wire transferred the money to Castle Rock, Colorado and prayed that it would all work out. On January 31st, 1984, Jim drove to O'Hare airport in a major snowstorm to pick-up his first shipment of PEP to sell to retailers in a 4 state exclusive territory. Palko Distributing was born.
In the beginning, he worked from the trunk of his car or the back room of the family home. In less than a years' time, he hired a family friend to help with incoming customer service calls and his wife Debbie officially joined the business. He recruited another family friend, Jan Lamers, to be a "sub-distributor" in Ohio (she is still employed with the company today). Jim and Debbie's children, Steve and Sally Jo, would answer incoming phone calls and pack orders after school. Distributing only the original Pep and Natural Balance product line, Jim physically walked into every store in his territory personally. The GNC stores all carried and ordered their PEP from him. One day, GNC decided to buy corporately (direct) and Jim still grew the over-all business that year. A sales manager at Natural Balance proposed pulling one of Jim's exclusive states, which thankfully never happened. It was this potential loss of income that prompted Jim to offer additional lines, like Laci Le Beau and Health Plus Colon Cleanse. Once he made the decision to add more lines, Palko Distributing began to evolve.
30 years later, Palko Services offers 338 brands and 8764 natural products. From its humble beginning in the back room of the Palko home, Palko Services is now a 7 acre distribution complex with over 41,000 square feet of warehouse and office space. The company has grown to employ 49 hard-working people, including Jim, Debbie, Sally Jo, Steve and his wife Michelle. It has a strong family atmosphere, still rooted deep in family values. In fact, Michelle Palko's sister Natasha & her husband Austin work at Palko, along with his brother Adam and their father Rob. Palko also employes a set of sisters, a mother and daughter (and her fiancé). Palko Services likes to consider itself 1 big family!
Throughout the years, some things have changed; Palko Distributing changed to Palko Services, the Palko family grew, etc. One thing that has never changed is that Palko still values every relationship, no matter how small or large a retailer is. Years ago, Jim stated that Palko is "Large Enough to Serve, Small Enough to Care" and that is still the company's motto today.