Our co-founder, friend, mentor and kindred spirit, Bob Barnes, has passed away at the age of 92. Bob, along with Al Dennig, founded Barnes Dennig almost 50 years ago and hung a shingle in 1965 with the a twinkle in their eye and the American dream in their heart. They founded their own firm with gentle determination, fierce friendships and countless smiles. Their key motto was: “Take great care of employees who will in turn take great care of clients.”
Bob’s legacy lives on in the 100+ employees that now comprise Barnes Dennig at the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky offices. Though he’s been retired for some time now, his words ring throughout daily conversation. “The most important client is the one you’re currently serving” is one – his thoughts on giving your clients your full attention and going beyond what is asked to achieve excellence. Another Bob-ism is, “To part as friends with firm alumni as they’ll likely turn into clients.” That was self-evident last year as Barnes Dennig hosted it’s first-ever “Alumnight” event which brought together past and current employees spanning 48 years. Bob humbly relished in the sight of so many friendly faces – those who has known for many years, and those he had just met – many of whom ARE clients today.
I’ve had the distinct pleasure of meeting Bob on many occasions over the years. What you first notice about Bob, is how extremely approachable and kind he was – to everyone he met. There was an honest excitement he had to meet you and a sincere interest in the part you play in the firm’s success.
One touching story I was told by our Marketing Coordinator, Betsy Wecker, was from the Alumnight last October – of which Bob became the humble rock star. Though I had invited him to share some remarks, he didn’t want to take the spotlight; however, he was truly the life of the party relishing in catching up with old friends and enjoying the new ones. As Betsy and Bob were talking, he spoke of what a great time he had and asked her for a napkin. Upon receiving the restaurant napkin, he affixed his nametag from that night, creating an instant memento and tucked it away in his pocked and noted he was taking that home to remember what a fun night it was.
Though our hearts are heavy in having lost both founders, their values and beliefs that company was founded on are alive and well and have steadily guided the firm through growth and achievement. Barnes Dennig is a four-time “Top Workplace” and a two-time Alfred P. Sloan Award for Workplace Flexibility – and that is due to the gentle determination, fierce friendships and countless smiles in which we were founded – thanks to Bob Barnes and Al Dennig.
Photos above are:
– Bill Cloppert, Bob Barnes and Steve Hube in 2012.
– Me with Bob Barnes at the 2013 Alumnight event.
– Al Dennig and Bob Barnes at an anniversary celebration for the firm.