The Business Side of Family March 1, 2018
FULFILL YOUR COMMITMENTS
BARNES buildings & management group, inc., Weymouth, Mass., owes its 22 years of success to founder Marty Barnes’ vision of closing a gap in the metal building market. Having been in the industry since 1974, he recognized the handoff from the metal building manufacturer to the general contractor would consistently result in numerous “fumbles and lost yardage” due to improper installation and a disconnect among erectors, engineers and fabricators.
“I saw the need for a specialized service provider to give the general contractor professional design guidance on the front end and to follow up with a quality steel system erected in place with properly installed roof and wall products—all under a seamless, single source contract,” Barnes says.
Marty hasn’t done it alone. His wife Lynne is BARNES’ controller, leaving her career as a mortgage banker and senior vice president at a large lender in 2009 to direct all of the company’s finance, accounting and reporting activities, plus handle many human resources responsibilities. In Marty’s words, she does it all—from managing contracts and interpreting statistical information to appraising operating results that help guide the management team.
Their son Tony launched his career in 1996 at age 16 as an ironworker, welder and metal building assembler. He progressed to become a foreman, project manager, estimator and general manager of the firm’s steel fabrication facility, which opened in 2006 in Hanover, Mass. As of last year, Tony became vice president of operations overseeing all field personnel, scheduling and fabrication sales.
Tony’s sister Nina Pfister came on board as a part-time outsourced marketing consultant in 2015. She owns her own boutique advisory firm, driving all marketing and public relations efforts for the company.
Non-relatives also are an integral part of the business, which has about 40 employees. Lynne is assisted by Katie Vecchionne, who has been with the company for nearly a decade. And Tim Allison, who serves as vice president of project management, has been with BARNES since the early stages of the company before any family members were brought on board.
“Tim has been treated as an equal in all aspects of our leadership team since the beginning. He is the consummate professional with tremendous attention to detail and who always looks out for the customer’s benefit,” Marty says. “Also, with an eye on the future, five years ago we brought in Anthony Poliatti to assist Tim, and he is now an invaluable asset to our management team.
“I do my best not to offer special treatment to any individual simply because they hold our last name, and in fact I am probably tougher on family, as I expect more from those who are closest to me,” he adds.
“Tony started working hand-in-hand with our field personnel, so many of our existing staff have had the opportunity to build their own solid relationships with him as he embarked on his career journey to management.”
Tony looks back fondly on his teenage years working in the field as the company was just getting off the ground. And though his two older sons are just 7 and 10 years old, they often visit jobsites with their dad on Saturdays.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if at least one of them takes an interest in the business in some capacity given their exposure,” Tony says. “I just ask that they each leverage their own unique strengths to make a decent living.”
Both Marty and Tony face the challenge of respecting family time as a precious entity and not bringing office problems back home. On the flip side, they enjoy the accessibility and ease of communication that comes with working alongside one another.
One message that never gets lost in translation is the company’s mission to “do the job right.” Safety and quality are at the core of this statement, as is the promise to fulfill commitments.
“The word shortcut has never existing in our company or culture,” Marty says. “Our people take great pride in their work.”
That work has evolved during the past two decades as the perception of metal buildings has changed from “tin structures with insulation” to structures with almost unlimited design capabilities and excellent warranties. Specifically, foam-insulated panel systems for roofs and walls are now a major part of projects due to manufacturing improvements and new energy code requirements.
In conjunction, BARNES has grown to be able to perform multiple complex projects simultaneously, even outside its core New England market. Safety training, equipment and protocols have ramped up considerably as well.
According to Tony, “the training never stops” after a new hire comes on board to ensure personnel stay abreast of the latest safety standards and erection techniques.
“Our legacy will be our continuous effort to execute what we promise to our customers,” Marty says. “If we tell someone we’re going to get a job done, we do whatever it takes to make that happen. We enjoy the challenge.”
...Aside from your team’s steel erection abilities and pace, I also note that they are always safe, polite and respectable...Shawn R. Malloy