By Pat Shaver
CEDAR RAPIDS — Barry Boyer’s plan: there is no plan.
Mr. Boyer, president of Van Meter inCedar Rapids, finished his last day with the company last week. He had been president of the company since 2003, and held various positions at Van Meter for the last 20 years. He retires at age 50.
“As I started to think about life at 50—retirement to me doesn’t mean sitting on the porch and watching the day go by,” Mr. Boyer said. “At the same token, I’m not one of those guys who is going to go back to work full time. There are a lot of opportunities to serve others and see this world.”
Mr. Boyer wants to spend his retirement traveling with friends and family and giving back to the community. He would also like to get involved with organizations that support entrepreneurs and troubled young men.
“Four years ago, I approached our board of directors and said if the company was in good shape I wanted to have the option to take a turn in life,” he said.
That turn in life will focus on service, adventure and learning.
“My plan is I have no plan. I’m a great believer that if I listen I’ll know my next direction,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of my life having a very busy and hectic schedule and I packed a lot in.”
Personally, Mr. Boyer said the accomplishment he is proudest of is continuously working to be a good husband and father.
Professionally, he is proud of helping lead the company to becoming 100 percent employee-owned in 2005. He is also proud of Van Meter being recognized by Inc. magazine as one of the 20 best small places to work in 2010.
“I’m proud of being employee owned and being a part of a company that is deeply committed to the community,” he said.
As president of the company, Mr. Boyer focused on creating a culture that encouraged the employees.
“One thing I’m proudest of is that we’ve created a place where people can get their best in and still have balance in their lives,” he said.
Mr. Boyer said he had to throw away his business school training in order to create a dynamic atmosphere at Van Meter.
“Inside the head of every single individual is an idea that can change the destiny of the company,” Mr. Boyer said. “In business, everyday success is looking beyond the numbers. If you capture a person’s heart, their mind follows.”
Mr. Boyer has never defined himself by his job.
“I never saw myself as the president of Van Meter. I had the right opportunity at the right time and had the chance to lead. I surrounded myself with people that were smarter than I was,” he said.
“I would define myself as an everyday sort of guy who had a tremendous opportunity to lead a great company,” Mr. Boyer said.
With the new leadership, Mr. Boyer said he is optimistic the company has a bright future, with several possible acquisitions on the way.
“The last couple of years, we were fortunate to have several candidates ready for the role. We had a succession plan that made sense,” Mr. Boyer said.
Kevin Powell, who ran a Van Meter operation inMinnesotafor the last eight years, will take over the role of president of Van Meter this week.
“Kevin is a very experienced leader who understands that success happens through people and continuing to create an environment where people can do their very best,” Mr. Boyer said.
Mr. Boyer will continue to serve on Van Meter’s board.
Van Meter is an employee-owned distributor of electrical, automation, lighting, datacomm and power transmission supplies, services and solutions. Headquartered inCedar Rapids, the company has 12 locations throughout the state inBurlington, Carroll,Cedar Rapids, Clive,Davenport,Des Moines,IowaCity, Keokuk,Muscatine,Ottumwa,Sioux CityandWaterloo. In February, Van Meter opened a new, largerIowa Cityfacility.
The company was founded more than 80 years ago and employs more than 350 people.