Barry J. Boyer

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Barry J. Boyer

Van Meter Inc.

Laureate 2017

Barry Boyer is a lifetime resident of Cedar Rapids, and his love for the community and its people has shown brightly throughout his career and his life.

A Cornell College graduate, Barry holds a B.S. in economics, business and political science. After nine years with Square D, Barry, in 1993, joined Van Meter – a distributor of electrical, automation, lighting, datacomm and power transmission supplies, services and solutions.

During his 20-year career with Van Meter, Barry was recognized as an industry leader. During his time as company president, Van Meter grew dramatically. It also became quite clear that Barry understood that people are the greatest asset of any organization.

He became a leader in the employee empowerment movement, advocating for employee growth and involvement, while fostering leadership qualities. He developed a nationally-renowned organization culture, with the Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), which made it possible for all employees to build a stable, long term retirement. Under Barry’s leadership, Van Meter became a 100 percent employee-owned company.

His leadership abilities were just as apparent outside the business world. During the 2008 flood in Cedar Rapids, he could be seen filling sand bags, driving delivery trucks or in the warehouse selecting products to help get local businesses back up and running. He helped Van Meter “adopt” six businesses in the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area, meaning that employees would help physically clean and rebuild the businesses, as well as donate electrical products and offer additional funds.

Giving back and paying forward have been cornerstones in Barry’s life. He is married to his high school sweetheart and partner in life, Gilda. Together they have formed an inspiring community-minded team filled with civic engagement and volunteerism. With Gilda, Barry gives time and financial resources to female entrepreneurs at “Invest in She,” and many other causes. They have two children, Erik, 25, and Lauren, 23.

A few of Barry’s personal and professional honors include: Five Seasons Citizenship Award, 2013, Affiliated Distributors Spirit of Independence – top leadership award, 2012, Corridor Business Journal, Most Influential Person in the Corridor, 2012, Rotary Club of Cedar Rapids, Downtown Rotary Annual Appreciation Award, Planned Parenthood of East Central Iowa Honor Dinner honoree, ESOP Company of the Year, by the ESOP Association, 2011, and Co-chair of the United Way of East Central Iowa Annual Campaign, 2010

After retiring from Van Meter, Barry became chairman and co-owner at Marion Process Solutions (MPS) in early 2014, where he continued enhancing the careers, abilities and vision of employees.

In retirement, Barry has been focused on the issue of helping at-risk and incarcerated young men, co-founding Essential Instruction, an Iowa-based organization that works with incarcerated men, released convicts and other at-risk men on the margins.

Nominator Eric Engelmann, executive director of NewBoCo, has this to say about Barry:

“He amplifies goodness. It’s not about him or his efforts directly. It’s the intentional design of companies, organizations or relationships that exponentially impacts the world, beyond himself.”

Indeed, when it comes to contributing to the issues that make a difference in people’s lives, Barry has led by example – and our communities are better for it.

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