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Petaluman Ed Barr uses varied skills to help others

Petaluman Ed Barr does it all, from serving on a wide range of boards and committees for local nonprofits to owning and managing several local businesses, and he somehow still finds time to give free guitar lessons to local youth.

Barr, who acts as the president of the Petaluma People Services Center board of directors, and also volunteers on the committee for Petaluma’s Building Board of Appeals, as well as the Sonoma County Workforce Investment, along with as several other efforts, says that what’s most valuable to him is “that I give more than I take from society.”

“Giving back is important to me for several reasons,” he said. “First, I am able to be in the position I am to give back because others gave to me in various ways along the line. Secondly there are tons of holes in the mainstream social systems our government provides for its citizens. So naturally there are opportunities to fill those gaps to help people get the leg up they deserve or need. You know the old saying, ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you have fed him for life?’ It’s that simple.”

Barr, 53, began his career working in the airline industry as an aircraft mechanic after completing training at a vocational school. He quickly rose through the ranks to get a managerial post, spending 13 years at United Airlines.

He left United Airlines in the mid-1990s and was recruited by the airline manufacturing company Boeing in Seattle to run its maintenance training program. In 1999, an opportunity arose for Barr to buy P&L Specialties in Sebastopol, a company that produces wine making equipment, which brought him back to Sonoma County.

Currently, Barr owns three manufacturing businesses operated under one roof: P&L Specialties, the Tom Beard Company which makes wine barrel washing machines, which he opened in 2008, and Revolution Equipment, a company he opened in 2013 that buys and sells pre-owned, certified, fully inspected and refurbished winery and brewery equipment. He also co-owns Sweet Bee Services, a professional concierge service opened last year. He credits his team of employees, as well as his more than three decades of managerial experiences coupled with support from mentors and business coaches for his ability to juggle all his obligations.

He said it’s important to “be creative in your ideas and solutions as one approach may not fit best,” adding that his wide range of skills have allowed him to bring a varied perspectives to the table when he’s serving on boards for multiple organizations, where he can help further efforts he truly cares about.

“I’m kind of a renaissance man, if that doesn’t sound funny,” Barr said. “I have a lot of varied interests but I’m especially passionate about promoting vocational education, because it’s afforded me the opportunity to give back.”

(Contact Lynn Schnitzer at argus@arguscourier.com.)

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