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John W. Barfield, Sr.

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Information about John W. Barfield, Sr.

Profile image of John W. Barfield, Sr.

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Maintenance Company Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Yellow
Favorite Food:
Pinto Beans, Onions, Cornbread
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Punta De Mita, Mexico
Favorite Quote:
I'm Glad To Meet A Fellow That Is Glad He Is Black. Who Is Conscious Of His Color And Appreciates The Fact That I'm Glad To Meet A Fellow That Is Glad He Is White.

Birthplace

Born:
2/8/1927
Birth Location:
Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Maintenance Company Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Yellow
Favorite Food:
Pinto Beans, Onions, Cornbread
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall, Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Punta De Mita, Mexico
Favorite Quote:
I'm Glad To Meet A Fellow That Is Glad He Is Black. Who Is Conscious Of His Color And Appreciates The Fact That I'm Glad To Meet A Fellow That Is Glad He Is White.

Birthplace

Born:
2/8/1927
Birth Location:
Tuscaloosa
See how John W. Barfield, Sr. is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Maintenance company chief executive, entrepreneur and businessman John W. Barfield was born Johnny Williams Barfield on February 8, 1927 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to Lena James Barfield and Edgar Barfield, both of whom worked as field hands. His father also worked in the coal mines and moved north in search of work. In 1932, when Barfield’s father had earned enough money to send for his family, they joined him in Washington, Pennsylvania. While living in Washington, Barfield began his first job, selling dry soap on commission for a white shop owner.

At the age of fifteen, Barfield relocated with his family to Ypsilanti, Michigan, where his father began working in a bomber plant in Willow Run. In 1945, Barfield dropped out of Ypsilanti Public High School and enlisted in the United States Army, serving two years in France and Germany. Upon his return, Barfield began working as a custodian for the University of Michigan, and, in 1949, he married Betty Williams Barfield. With his wife, Barfield cleaned newly constructed houses for additional income.

Barfield quit his job with the University of Michigan in 1955 because his cleaning job after hours had become more lucrative than his full-time one. He began his first company, a contract cleaning group called the Barfield Cleaning Company of Ypsilanti, Michigan, which employed 200 people. Barfield cleaned businesses at night and promoted his business during the day, always sure to wear a shirt and tie. The same year, Barfield also wrote the Barfield Method of Building Maintenance, which would set a standard for the commercial building maintenance industry. In 1969, Barfield Cleaning Company was acquired by the International Telephone and Telegraph Company in one of the highest multiples ever paid for a commercial cleaning company. Barfield and his wife continued working for the company for three additional years. Then, Barfield reentered the maintenance business when he incorporated the Barfield Building Maintenance Company and began promoting his business to different building managers. Also in 1974, when General Motors Corporation was unable to find minority and female suppliers, Barfield incorporated John Barfield and Associates, an organization that provided staffing services to General Motors, broadening its reach to include such companies as the Ford Motor Company, DaimlerChrysler and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

In 1978, General Motors requested that he manufacture transmission pins for them, and soon thereafter, Barfield founded the Barfield Manufacturing Company. In 1981, Barfield turned John Barfield and Associates over to his son, Jon. Three years later, the company was renamed The Bartech Group. The following year, Bartech would be named 1985 “Company of the Year” by Black Enterprise Magazine. In 1986, the Barfield Building Maintenance Company was acquired by Unified Building Maintenance Services, Inc., and in 1991, Barfield Manufacturing was purchased by Mascotech Industries, an automotive supplier. The following year, Barfield began his Share Products initiative, established to bring attention to the issue of homelessness in the United States. Barfield was a recipient of the The George Romney Award in 1996, recognizing lifelong achievement in volunteerism.

Barfield and his wife had six children and resided in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

John W. Barfield, Sr. passed away on January 2, 2018.

John W. Barfield was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 28, 2007.

See how John W. Barfield, Sr. is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of John W. Barfield, Sr.'s interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - John W. Barfield, Sr. lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his father, pt. 1
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his father's work as a coal miner
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John W. Barfield, Sr. talks about his paternal great-grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John W. Barfield, Sr. remembers his paternal aunts and uncles
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his father, pt. 2
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his relationship with his father
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John W. Barfield, Sr. remembers his family's homemade syrup and sorghum
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - John W. Barfield, Sr. recalls his mother's illness and death
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his mother's family background, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - John W. Barfield, Sr. talks about the Barfield family
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his earliest childhood memories, pt. 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his earliest childhood memories, pt. 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - John W. Barfield, Sr. recalls the mentorship of businessman Bert Lutton
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his childhood in Margaret, Alabama
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his neighborhood in Washington, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the coal mines of Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - John W. Barfield, Sr. recalls his family's church in Washington, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - John W. Barfield, Sr. recalls his childhood in Washington, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the traditions of the Pentecostal church
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the black community in Ypsilanti, Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his early personality
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his U.S. Army service
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - John W. Barfield, Sr. talks about his wife
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - John W. Barfield, Sr. reflects upon his mother's death
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - John W. Barfield, Sr. recalls founding J and B Cleaning Company
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - John W. Barfield, Sr. remembers buying his first house in Ypsilanti, Michigan
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the J and B Cleaning Company
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his transition from residential to contract cleaning
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the difference between commercial and contract cleaning
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his methods at J and B Cleaning Company
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - John W. Barfield, Sr. remembers segregation in Ypsilanti, Michigan
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his perspective on wealth
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the National Association of Building Service Contractors
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - John W. Barfield, Sr. reflects upon his success
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the 'Barfield Method of Building Maintenance'
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - John W. Barfield, Sr. remembers the sale of Barfield Cleaning Company, pt. 1
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - John W. Barfield, Sr. remembers the sale of Barfield Cleaning Company, pt. 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - John W. Barfield, Sr. recalls working at Barfield Cleaning Company after its sale
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his leadership style
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the sales of his other businesses
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the differences between his companies
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - John W. Barfield, Sr. recalls founding John Barfield and Associates
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - John W. Barfield, Sr. remembers his mentors in the manufacturing industry
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his manufacturing processes
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his children's involvement in his businesses
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the development of John Barfield and Associates
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - John W. Barfield, Sr. recalls the challenges of business ownership
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the divisions of John Barfield and Associates
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his son's leadership of The Bartech Group, Inc.
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes the National Minority Supplier Development Council
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his advice to his employees
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his interest in hunting, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his interest in hunting, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - John W. Barfield, Sr. reflects upon the black business community, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - John W. Barfield, Sr. reflects upon the black business community, pt. 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his civic involvement
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes his work with the Ronald McDonald House Charities
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - John W. Barfield, Sr. talks about his art collection
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - John W. Barfield, Sr. reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - John W. Barfield, Sr. describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - John W. Barfield, Sr. narrates his photographs