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Event celebrates efforts to reduce recidivism

Robert Barker

Robert Barker


The Daily Reflector

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Over the course of five decades The Bob Barker company grew from a small jail supply company to become the worldwide leader in delivering supplies and services to correctional and rehabilitation customers.

Since 2010, it also has devoted millions to help ensure that the inmates inside the facilities served by the company are able to lead productive lives so that they don't return.

Robert Barker Jr., the company's president and the visionary who developed its focus on recidivism, will talk about that transformation in Greenville tonight at the annual LIFE of NC Gala — a celebration of graduates of the STRIVE program who have developed financial independence following difficult backgrounds including involvement in the criminal justice system.

The evening will include graduates and employee of the year awards, the story of the Bob Barker Company’s mission, dinner and opportunities to support the Reentry Council of Pitt County.

More than 35 business sponsors are participating in the event that will highlight success stories who have been transformed by 19 years of the STRIVE program in Pitt County. Call 752-9774 to check on ticket availability.

Bob Barker, a former newspaper publisher who later got into the restaurant supply business, purchased a friends small jail supply company in the 1980s and established its headquarters in Fuquay-Varina in 1985. The company grew to 200 employees by the late 1990s.

Robert Barker grew up in the business founded by his father and in 2005 was promoted to president. He has successfully led the organization through two major competitor acquisitions while more than doubling revenues and profits.

According to the company, he set out in 2010 to recast the business after a religious calling to address the overwhelming number of inmates who find themselves back inside a correctional facility within three years leaving.

With the help of his leadership team, he changed company’s vision changed from “Bob Barker is the worldwide leader delivering innovative supplies and services to correctional and rehabilitation customers” to “Transforming criminal justice while honoring God in all that we do.”

The team created the Bob Barker Company Foundation, towhich the company began tithing from the net income of the business. "With faithful giving and God’s blessing on the foundation investments, assets in the foundation have grown to over $11 million today," the company reports.

The foundation has awarded over $2 million in grants to organizations like Life of NC that are working to help the incarcerated prepare physically, spiritually, and emotionally for successful reentry into society and to stay out of prison for life. These foundation grantees have impacted more than 1 millions lives.

In 2014 the company also embarked on a four-year strategic plan to improve execution, grow sales double digits and to dump its debt. The elimination of debt was driven out of the Biblical admonition to "owe nothing to anyone but love." (Romans 13:8) In November 2016, the company became debt free for the first time in its 47 years of existence and has begun accumulating cash to fund future expansion and acquisition opportunities.

In the past year, Barker has successfully helped lead his organization through the design and construction of a contemporary open office environment complete with 17 conference rooms, numerous open collaboration spaces, a training center, café, gym, and chapel.

The new open office environment has helped to increase collaboration, community, transparency, and team member engagement in the short time we have been in our new space, the company reports.

Barker is an active member of the C12 Group, the largest network of Christian CEOs and owners. He is married to Jennifer. They have three sons: Robert III, 11, Raymond, 7, and Freddie, 3, and an adopted daughter, Aerin, 6.