“I was hired on to help reinvent the business for the next generation and structure it for future growth....Though I started as the number two in command, after three years with the company, the CEO opportunity presented itself, and I took it.”
Soon after Barton joined California Closets, the company began incorporating the textured and printed overlays he had seen on European furniture.
“The best advice I ever received was to look outside your industry for innovative ideas. You’d be surprised where inspiration can come from.
“In the case of California Closets, we go to the Milan Furniture Fair every year, not a closet show,” he says. “By looking at the very best in furniture, kitchen and bath industries, we’ve been challenged to look at our category differently, and have uncovered beautiful new materials and systems while also gaining an appreciation for world-class furniture design.”
He adds, “As the category leader, our clients have come to rely on us to bring the very best designs, materials and accessories into their homes. We cannot rest on the status quo. So as much success as we’ve had with our Italian-inspired products such as Lago, Tesoro and Virtuoso, we are not satisfied. Our entire team is committed to constantly improving all that we do.”
To ensure the team of talent continues, Barton says his company has implemented an active management training program that provides exposure to the various disciplines within the corporate structure. Thus they are able to determine where a person’s skills can best be utilized, whether in manufacturing, the showroom or at the corporate level. “By taking this approach, we create a bench of strong professionals and managers who are ready to step up and help lead our company forward. Our focus on the team first has helped a create a unique, dynamic culture that is customer and performance focused.”
Barton’s focus also extends beyond California Closets to the home organization industry as a whole, and he is on the board of directors for the Home Improvement Research Institute. For his efforts, Barton has been recognized as a 2012 Wood Industry Market Leader by Wood & Wood Products magazine.
In his free time, he says, along with his four children and two grandchildren, “we go hiking, camping and skiing in the winter. We get outside as much as possible, thanks to living in Northern California.”
• Education: Presidential/Key Executive MBA, Graziadio School of Business, Pepperdine University
• Years at the company: 7, 3.5 as CEO
• Years in the industry: 7
• Words that best describe you: “Open to possibilities.” I almost never say no, initially. Open ears and an open mind are critical if one wants to maximize opportunities.
• The best advice received: Look outside your industry for innovative ideas.
• The person you have tried to emulate in business and why: Jim Collins. His philosophies and approach to business truly resonate with me.
Read more about the 2012 Wood Industry Market Leaders