Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bob Barney dead at 86

New Dundee – Bob Barney, a veteran employee of the farmer-owned New Dundee Creamery, has died in at Hospice Wellington Guelph. He was 86.

He became the chief executive officer in the early 1960s when the business was broke and the previous general manager recommended the board of directors turn it over to United Dairy and Poultry Co-operative (now Gay Lea) for nothing.

The board, under president Werner Romahn, who was my father, objected and when the general manager would not relent, dismissed him and appointed Barney.

Barney turned the business around, made it so profitable it had more than $2 million in the bank when Labatt’s brewery, owners of Ault Dairies, made a bid to buy control.

Barney worked under a salary plus percentage of profits contract and earned so much that some directors thought he was getting too rich. 

The business success caught the attention of others in the industry and Ault Foods, then under the ownership of Labatt's brewery, made a bid to buy farmers' shares. That touched off a bidding competition among several companies and the creamery ended up selling for a hefty premium to Ault. It has since been closed.

Barney served the creamery for more than 30 years before retirement.