Leader to Follow: Barry Opatz

Three decades ago, Barry Opatz came to work for Marco with his first order of business: Develop a new logo to reflect our brand. At that time, office furniture and supplies were the biggest drivers of our business and we aspired to be a one-stop office products superstore. (Yeah, we laugh about that now.)

Barry-Jeff-2.jpgBarry was our marketing guy. Today as VP of Marketing, he leads a growing group of professionals who specialize in everything from events and proposals to graphic design and social media. Over the years, he has repositioned our brand again and again to help us transition and grow.

I started this Leaders to Follow series with Scott Roeder, not your traditional operations guy. Barry, the next leader I am profiling, is literally being followed by the next generation of leadership as he retires next month from Marco after 30 years – to the day.

As I look back at the evolution of Barry’s leadership, here are a few attributes that I think make him a leader worth emulating:

  • Finds experts to accelerate success.
    Barry has effectively augmented our internal marketing team by engaging specialized consultants to help create and carry out various aspects of our marketing strategy. He doesn’t believe he needs to have all the answers or expertise. He’s been masterful at finding the people who do.

  • Inspires new thinking in others.
    Barry consistently helps our executive leadership team and the marketing team look at an issue or concept from a different perspective. He’s naturally creative and abstract in his thinking. He’s not afraid to challenge the status quo and try new things.

  • Trusts people to get results.
    Barry has played a significant role in getting new initiatives and ideas off the ground. The key to his success has been his ability to effectively delegate to others and empower them to achieve the desired results. He trusts his team members to get things done without looking over their shoulders. That’s a defining characteristic of his leadership and our culture.

  • Stays contemporary.
    Staying relevant in marketing is especially important. It’s a consistently changing environment with new tools and tactics being employed. Barry has always been seen as a contemporary leader. He has a diverse team of talented individuals that in aggregate created one of the best brands in our industry. He’s done a good job of keeping his own saw sharp, too.
Barry has been a long-time personal friend and colleague. We’ve had a lot fun growing the business together over the past 30 years. He has helped Marco transition from a small office products business to a multi-million-dollar technology firm. He continues to be actively engaged as he transitions into the final weeks of his career (seems weird to even say that).

I am really going to miss him around here, not just for the work he does, but the fun personality he brings to our culture. Congratulations, Barry, on a great career. I wish you the best of everything in your retirement.
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Topics: Leadership, Leadership Team, Marketing