Bob Barker of Fuquay-Varina owns America’s leading detention supplier. Established in 1972, the Bob Barker Company has been providing prisons all across the world with miscellaneous supplies for 40 years. Born to a struggling family in the middle of the Great Depression, Barker recounts a Cinderella story from rags to riches in an inspirational autobiography, “I’m In Cells.”
Dedicated to his parents, Nally and Bell Barker, “I’m In Cells” explores Barker’s rise to success through a multi-million dollar company. Barker was not always the accomplished man he is today, though. Born in Cherryville, N. C., Barker and his six siblings were raised to have a strong work ethic.
He acquired his first paying job at the tender age of 5, and hasn’t stopped working since. During high school, Barker could be found in the boxing ring, on a baseball field, or working the night shift at a nearby cotton mill. With the addition of being senior class president, he rarely found time to sleep.
Barker credits his vigorous adolescence and tough parents for making him the savvy businessman he is today. He says growing up in a poor household was “a great influence” and taught him to “see how things can be done and done better by treating people right and giving back.”
In his book, Barker constantly displays perseverance and determination, something he adopted from his father. Nally Barker’s driven persona even inspired the Company Code of Conduct.
“My dad always felt that there was a way to do something, even if it looked impossible. I picked up that attitude and feel like that’s the way to look at everything.”
Barker’s “can-do” attitude has surely served him well. Having formerly served as mayor of Apex and Fuquay-Varina, Barker knows what it takes to run a company, and run it well. His dedication to customer service and high-quality products has not gone unnoticed.
Along with running a flourishing company, Barker strongly believes in giving back to the community. He is a frequent benefactor of his alma mater, Campbell University, having contributed the Bob Barker Residence Hall and the Barker Lane Football Stadium. He was previously president of the Fuquay-Varina Area Chamber of Commerce and began the Bob Barker Company Foundation, which attempts to reduce recidivism and change the lives of incarcerated individuals.
“We want to be good corporate citizens. Wherever we are, we want to be a part of the community and help as much as we can,” says Barker. “I like to be involved and we encourage our employees to be so.”
Today, the Bob Barker Company boasts over 10,000 products, international success, and a multi-million dollar corporation. While his children, Nancy and Robert, are currently the major share holders, Barker remains a key component of the company’s day to day functioning.
“I didn’t start out thinking I was going to go into the jail business,” says Barker, “but I’ve really got a passion for this.”
His book, “I’m In Cells,” is available at Elliott’s Pharmacy, the Lazy Lion Book Store, David Anthony’s Gifts and the Fuquay-Varina Chamber of Commerce.