Robert J. Barker Jr.
President, Bob Barker Company
Robert Barker Jr. is the President of Bob Barker Company, America’s leading detention supplier, located in the Triangle Area of North Carolina. Robert attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the London School of Economics, and graduated summa cum laude from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Economics with a dual concentration in Finance and Entrepreneurial Management.
Robert grew up in the business founded by his father, Bob Barker, and has worked in most areas of the company and served in numerous leadership roles including Metal Fabrication Manager, IT Director, and Marketing Director. In March 2005, he was promoted to President of Bob Barker Company. Since that time, he has successfully led the organization through two major competitor acquisitions while more than doubling revenues and profits.
Around 2010 God put a burden on Robert’s spirit to understand more deeply the greatest problems facing the industry his business served and to play a leadership role in solving those problems. In studying the corrections industry, he learned that correctional populations in the U.S. exploded from 300,000 in the early 1980’s to more than 2.3 million people incarcerated today, with hundreds of billions of dollars spent annually on our criminal justice system. Two out of three inmates that leave a correctional facility today will find themselves back inside a correctional facility within three years, often much sooner than that. This issue of ‘recidivism’ was one of the biggest drivers of this population and spending explosion.
With the help of his leadership team in 2010 Robert set out to recast the vision of the Bob Barker Company to articulate a greater purpose, a higher calling for the business. The 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.”
At the same time that the company announced the new vision, we also created the Bob Barker Company Foundation, which the company began tithing to out of 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 $11,000,000 today. The foundation has awarded over $3,000,000 in grants to organizations 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 1,000,000 lives. The foundation is the only Foundation in the Unites States, perhaps the world, that focuses exclusively on reducing recidivism.
In 2014 the company embarked on a four-year strategic plan to improve our execution, grow sales double digits and to dump our 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.
Robert is an active member of the C12 Group, the largest network of Christian CEOs and owners building great businesses for a greater purpose. His participation in this peer advisory group has helped Robert discover and plan for areas that need improvement in his business and personal life, while being held accountable and encouraged to accomplish it in a God-honoring way.
He is married to Jennifer. They have three sons: Robert III (age 12), Raymond (age 8), and Freddie (age 4), and an adopted daughter, Aerin (age 7).