By Kristine Hojnicki

June 27, 2024
Share this article:
  • Ian Parrish (BSBA '12, MBA '14), pictured left, at Moose Run Golf Course in Alaska with its golf professional

    Ian Parrish (BSBA '12, MBA '14), pictured left, at Moose Run Golf Course in Alaska with its golf professional.

  • Ian Parrish on vacation in Austin, Texas, with his girlfriend

    Ian Parrish on vacation in Austin, Texas, with his girlfriend.

  • Ian Parrish (2nd from left) golfing with clients at Mauna Lani Golf Course

    Ian Parrish (2nd from left) golfing with clients at Mauna Lani Golf Course.

From a childhood spent moving between military bases to becoming a key figure in one of the fastest-growing athleisure brands, HPU alumnus Ian Parrish has found success in retail sales by leveraging the adaptability, strategic thinking, and passion for relationship-building that he cultivated from an early age. 

Now as the Regional Sales Director at TravisMathew, he oversees the Pacific territory that includes Hawaiʻi, Alaska, Guam, and Saipan. By leveraging his diverse experiences, from his early days in Hawaiʻi to his transformative years at HPU, he has built a thriving career in the competitive world of golf and fashion retail. 

Professional Beginnings at HPU 

Parrish’s early years were characterized by frequent relocations due to his father’s career as a chaplain in the United States Air Force. This somewhat nomadic lifestyle instilled in him a valuable sense of resilience from a young age. 

The family’s final relocation brought them to Hawaiʻi, where Parrish graduated from Radford High School. He first enrolled as an undergraduate at another university but soon realized it wasn’t the right fit for him. Seeking a more suitable academic environment, he transferred to HPU, where he completed his BSBA in 2012 and earned an MBA in International Business in 2014. 

 “The MBA International Business program was incredibly impactful. The team projects and collaborative environment allowed me to learn not just from the curriculum but from the vast professional experiences of my peers,” Parrish said. “Many of my classmates had years or even decades of experience in their fields, providing me with valuable insights and business touchpoints that I still use today.” 

“HPU was the perfect fit for me,” he continued. “The university’s supportive environment and comprehensive programs provided me with the knowledge and skills I needed to excel in my career.” 

A career, in fact, that began at HPU on the administrative side, initially as a transcript evaluator. Parrish quickly advanced through various positions before becoming the Associate Director of Admissions, a role in which he focused on the Military Campus Programs, assisting adult and military students in using their educational benefits to advance their careers. 

“Working at HPU allowed me to see the university from different perspectives,” Parrish explained. “I gained a profound appreciation for the institution and its mission, which enriched my educational experience.” 

Pivoting to TravisMathew 

With a passion for golf, nurtured through part-time roles with COBRA, Puma, and Callaway Golf, Parrish departed the world of higher education and transitioned into the fast-paced and dynamically changing field of retail sales. Shortly after completing his MBA, he seized an opportunity to take over the Hawaiʻi territory for TravisMathew, a rapidly growing company that serves the golf and athleisure market. 

“The role at TravisMathew came at the perfect time,” he said. “I was looking for a way to apply my business acumen, and this job offered me the perfect blend of entrepreneurial freedom and corporate support.” 

Since joining the company, Parrish has overseen a tenfold increase in business within his territory. His responsibilities include managing all business-to-business and corporate sales, building strong relationships with clients, and ensuring the highest level of customer satisfaction. He manages a sales team based in California, supporting the expansive geographic region under his purview. 

“I am essentially running my own business within a larger company,” Parrish noted. “This entrepreneurial aspect allows me to leverage my skills fully and drive significant growth.” 

He attributes much of his success to the relationships he has built with his clients. “The connections I’ve made are genuine and integral to long-term success. In Hawaiʻi, business is personal. Many of my customers have become friends, and that personal touch is essential in this market,” he explained. 

Keys to Success 

Parrish keeps a close eye on industry trends, particularly the growing demand for versatile, comfortable apparel that can transition seamlessly between different settings. “Our niche has always been creating high-quality products that are both functional and stylish,” he said. “We started with the goal of making golf apparel that didn’t look like a uniform, and we’ve maintained that focus as we expand into general men’s fashion.” 

TravisMathews’s Southern California roots and beach-inspired lifestyle align perfectly with the greater Pacific market and have made it particularly successful in Hawaiʻi. “We’re lucky because our brand’s relaxed, yet sophisticated style resonates well here,” Parrish said. “Our headquarters in Huntington Beach informs our approach, blending casual comfort with a touch of elegance.” 

Looking ahead, Parrish anticipates future trends to balance the current popularity of bold, floral prints with a return to clean, sophisticated styles. “We’re prepared to lead in both areas, thanks to our experience and the quality of our products,” he said. “Floral prints are huge right now, but we also see a move toward more refined and elevated looks as people seek versatility and timelessness in their wardrobes.” 

But staying apprised of market trends is only one piece of the puzzle that makes up Parrish’s success at TravisMathew. Building relationships with his customers is not only integral but also one of the most rewarding aspects of his job. “As I said before, in Hawaiʻi, business is personal,” he said. “I’ve been in this position for nine years, so a lot of my customers have truly become my friends. I’ve stayed at their houses, or I’ve gone on vacations with them. That level of true friendship that’s created is definitely unique to Hawaiʻi. When I talk with other reps from around the U.S., they don’t have that level of relationship with their clients, and I think this idea that we are all in this together is ingrained in the culture here.” 

Parrish’s role involves meeting with business owners, professional buyers, and golf course professionals, coordinating sales, and ensuring that customer expectations are met or exceeded. “It’s about being a strategic business partner,” he explained. “We track our customers’ sales closely, often knowing their business better than they do when it comes to our brand.” 

This hands-on approach extends to dealing with logistical challenges, such as coordinating orders, managing credit holds, and ensuring timely deliveries. “It’s not just about selling a product; it’s about providing comprehensive support to our clients,” Parrish emphasized. “This ensures that their experience with our brand is seamless and positive, which in turn drives repeat business and long-term partnerships.” 

Sage Advice for Aspiring Sales Professionals 

Looking ahead, Parrish is focused on pioneering TravisMathew’s new women’s and footwear lines, aiming for substantial growth in these areas over the next few years. In the future, he envisions either starting his own venture of taking on a national sales role within TravisMathew. 

“My short-term goal is to drive that significant growth in our new product lines,” he said. “Long-term, I’m open to new challenges, whether within TravisMathew or through my own start-up opportunities.” 

He emphasized the importance of aspiring sales professionals to just dive into their careers with the primary goal of building relationships. “If you believe in your ability to connect with people and are committed to doing what’s right for your customers, success will follow,” he said. “Sales is about long-term relationships and sustainability.” 

Parrish also stressed the importance of integrity and genuine care for clients. “You see it all the time. There are salespeople who do great initially but lose in the long run because they don’t build trust,” he said. “Focus on what’s best for your customer, and the sales will come.” 

He also credits his time at HPU for providing a realistic and practical education that he continues to apply in his career. “The professors at HPU brought real-world experience into the classroom, which was invaluable. They prepared us not just with knowledge, but with the ability to apply that knowledge effectively in the business world,” he said. 

Parrish also said the mentorship and guidance he received from his professors have guided his success. “I was very lucky to have professors who were former business professionals. They taught us the theories and knowledge, but also ensured we understood how to apply them in real-world scenarios. This realistic approach to education has been crucial in my career and I owe a lot of my success to them and to HPU as a whole,” he concluded. 

The Ohana teal logo