In Focus: The Oldest Promoting Company in Orlando

Pete Barr Jr. and Pete Barr Sr. at their downtown workplace. (ROBERTO GONZALEZ)

Pete Barr Jr. didn’t at all times wish to be an advert man. Because the CEO and president of the oldest promoting company in Orlando, which may come as a shock.

“I’d like to inform you I used to be born desirous to be an advert man, and at age seven, I purchased my first swimsuit and my first briefcase,” Barr laughs. “However I used to be a daily child.”
Born and raised within the coronary heart of downtown Orlando, Pete Jr. considers himself the insurgent of the Barr household. He was outgoing, at all times doing his finest, but he discovered college difficult “as a result of I wished to do different issues.”

Pete was so rebellious that when it got here time to choose a university in a College of Florida household, Pete Jr. attended Florida State College. “Sure, my mother, dad, and brother had been all Gators.”

Whether or not he’s a Gator or a Seminole, none of that issues a lot in 2022, as &Barr celebrates 65 years of success as Florida’s oldest promoting company, with Pete Barr Jr. main the best way.

“I suppose I’m the oldest individual within the company. It looks like simply the opposite day once I was 27 years outdated, and I didn’t know what the hell I used to be doing. It’s all passed by so quick, and right here we’re in our sixty fifth yr.”

&Barr has come of age alongside Central Florida, amid recessions, pre- and post-Disney affect, tradition wars, technological revolutions and even a pandemic, not simply surviving however thriving.

Downtown workplace plaque. (ROBERTO GONZALEZ)

Rising up with Orlando

Pete Jr. grew up in Sixties Orlando. It was a time when one might scent orange blossoms from wherever on the town if the wind was blowing good. A time when the one motive a vacationer would journey to Florida was for the seashores, and to go to Disney meant touring to California.

“I grew up within the downtown space, on Lake Cherokee. Orlando was a quiet, sleepy place again then.” Pete attended Boone Excessive College and performed tuba within the marching band. “I used to be a insurgent, and Mr. Casey, the band director, he was most likely the one instructor who would have management over me throughout highschool.”

Chuck Fry and Bob Hammond discovered the company that was later renamed &Barr in 1957. After graduating from the College of Florida, Pete Barr Sr. joined the agency.
“Chuck Fry employed my dad earlier than Bob might, and after a brief interval, the three of them obtained collectively. My dad had that youthful power. He was a pusher, and he’s nonetheless that means right this moment.”


The Patriarch

Pete Barr Sr. nonetheless lives within the huge home in downtown Orlando the place he raised his household along with his spouse, Nancy. “My mother and pa had a magical life. He’s actually wonderful. I’ve very near my dad. I’m near him concerning enterprise and share quite a bit with him.”
Invaluable classes handed down from father to son.

The Handshake

Like all good fathers, Pete Jr. discovered learn how to shake palms from his father. “There’s just one method to shake their hand. You don’t harm them however look them within the eyes and provides a agency handshake.”

Personally Written Notes

“My dad was all concerning the handwritten notes. He had a podium in his workplace that was saved flat, like one of many authentic stand-up desks. That’s the place he saved his stationary and his playing cards. He’d go to the desk each day and write follow-ups and notes to folks he had known as or met. He was diligent about that, and he pushed that on all of us, regardless that none of us had been nearly as good at it as he was.”


“One of the vital classes I’ve discovered from my dad is his self-discipline. He has a tremendous work ethic. He believes that the very best time to do one thing is now. My dad is a ‘get it carried out now’ form of individual. If he says, ‘I would like you to have this shovel.’ He’s coming over now, not later.”


“The opposite day, I attempted to clarify to my dad the concept of not returning a telephone name or getting ghosted. I believed he was going to flip out. He’d by no means heard of such a factor.”
Pete Jr. says Pete Sr. hasn’t misplaced a step and remains to be as disciplined right this moment as he was 50 years in the past. Regardless of his propensity for rebelliousness, Pete Jr. sees loads of himself in his father. “I’ve loads of him in me, however I even have loads of my mom in me. I’ve the very best of each.”

Pete Barr Jr. and Pete Barr Sr. outdated newspaper clips at their downtown workplace.

The Successor to the Throne

“What’s so thrilling about this sixty fifth anniversary is that I’ve been right here 35 of these 65 years,” says Pete Jr.

Although he didn’t spend his youth craving to be the following “McMann and Tate,” when the time got here for him to pick out a significant in school, he went with the household enterprise. An internship quickly adopted, and after commencement, he returned to Orlando and began working on the Orlando Sentinel within the promoting division.

“I used to be a standard 22-year-old man and wished to make more cash. I wished to maneuver out of my mum or dad’s home, I wished to celebration with my buddies, and I wished to satisfy a woman.”
Pete Jr. met and married his pretty spouse Cheryl, and so they have been fortunately married for 36 years.

“Although I’ve been lucky and have been a privileged individual, my dad has at all times made my brother, and I work onerous for every part we now have.”

When he finally left the Orlando Sentinel for the household enterprise, it wasn’t a pure match at first. “The Sentinel was a wonderful coaching floor. I knew the enterprise, and I’ve been across the company my whole life. I ran errands and was a gopher as a teen. It took me a while to seek out my means once I got here right here.”

Totally different management kinds are required for various occasions, and &Barr was lucky to have somebody like Pete Sr. because the founder. &Barr was simply as fortunate to have Pete Jr. lead the corporate into the long run.

“Once I joined the company, we had about 20 staff with all of the outdated methods. Again then, purchasers wished to satisfy with older, skilled folks. It was a little bit of a curse in case you appeared and sounded younger. Right this moment, purchasers wish to meet with youthful folks. The trade is pushed by youth.”

What &Barr does proper is it combines youth with old style enterprise skilled coaching and experience. “I felt like we needed to preserve reinventing, innovating. I’ve made some errors, however I’ve gotten loads of issues proper alongside the best way.”

What’s in a reputation?

In the course of the recession, the company looked for its future id, and Pete Jr. made a giant choice.

“We had been in transition, and somebody requested me, ‘Have you ever ever considered altering the company’s title?’ I hadn’t as a result of I’m a reasonably conventional individual. I cherish significant issues.”

After some considerate consideration, they modified the title to &Barr.

“It was getting all the way down to the core of what we’re, which is concerning the intimate partnership with our purchasers. That’s the place we obtained the &. The & is meant to represent partnership, and shared targets.”

Pete Barr Jr. in an OUC advert when he was a child. (ROBERTO GONZALEZ)

Seeking to the Future

At a time of volatility, when companies that had been as soon as thought of establishments are shuttering their doorways, &Barr goes sturdy. The important thing to that success is a robust group with visionary management.

“My dad got here from a distinct time when management kinds had been barely totally different. the time period ‘benevolent dictator.’ It might sound damaging, however the phrase benevolent is in entrance. My dad wasn’t a dictator however ran the company in his picture. He was highly effective, and he was spectacular.”
How does Pete Jr. describe his management model?

“Although I don’t run the place fairly like that, I typically dictate. You need to make the decision and get up and make selections. Nonetheless, I attempt to be a collaborative chief.”
For the Barr household, &Barr is like one other member of the family on the desk. “This company is our household. You go to a Thanksgiving dinner and discuss concerning the enterprise. It’s means past an advert company. It’s a household.”