120: Art Barter | Servant Leadership
Art Barter (@Art_Barter) is the CEO of Datron World Communications, Inc., Founder of the Servant Leadership Institute, and author of the books Farmer Able, The Servant Leadership Journal, and The Art of Servant Leadership II
What We Discuss with Art Barter:
- How Art grew Datron from $10MM to over $200MM in six years.
- Servant leadership as a business growth strategy that speaks to the heart of an individual and a company.
- Driving employee giving to the tune of $16MM.
- How to implement servant leadership inside an organization.
- And much more...
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More About the Show
Starting as a “sweeper” at Disneyland in Anaheim, California while studying Business and Finance at Cal State Fullerton, Art moved into character wardrobe and then into the accounting and finance division, which lead to a full-time position after graduating.
“Disney was a great place to work, a lot of fun,... but it takes you a long time to get ahead there. I was a young guy out of college and wanted to get ahead real fast.” says Barter.
Not long after graduating, Art left Disney and took a job with a company that manufactured check printers.
“I fell in love with building things,... and I’ve been in manufacturing ever since.” Barter says. After spending 10 or so years there, Art transitioned to a company that made specialized motors for everything from bonesaws to NASA observatory telescopes to F18 fighter jets for the U.S. military.
After another ten years, Art learned about a defense contractor called Datron that made telecommunications equipment for foreign militaries. Having been exposed to international travel in his previous positions, he was very excited when his first assignment took him to Zimbabwe to help the finance $15MM in high-frequency radios for the local military to support upcoming elections.
It took two years to raise the capital, and although the Zimbabwean government was (and is) known for corruption and violence, the country had the lowest levels of election-related violence in its history.
“It was an opportunity to help save lives,” Barter says. “All the generals I deal with and all the militaries around the world, they just want to provide sovereignty for their country and security for their citizens… they don’t want to attack anybody, they just want to protect.”
In 2004, after a year of intense investigation by the Department of Justice into the company’s relationships with foreign powers, Art learned that it had been triggered by a company that wanted to drive Datron’s value down in order to purchase it at rock-bottom pricing.
It was then that Art decided to make an offer to buy the company instead. Long story short, he got it, at a purchase price of $4.7MM. With Art’s leadership, he grew the company to over $200MM in just six years.
“We decided to run the business a different way - create a great purpose, give people a way to live that purpose.”
That difference was servant leadership.
Thanks, Art Barter!
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