Kenneth Safford Parker, 52, president of the Parker Pen Co., is an internationalist-minded businessman. His father, the late George Safford Parker, an old-fashioned drummer who started the company in 1891, wanted young Kenneth to have the best of everything, sent him to Paris and Stuttgart for his prep-schooling. But Kenneth Parker has a much bigger reason for being an internationalist—Parker Pen does 40% of its business (last year's gross sales: $18.9 million) outside the U.S. market.

Parker's company is based in Janesville, Wis., a thriving small town (pop. 22,992) in the Chicago Tribune's isolationist heartland. Last week, Parker decided that...

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