In 1981, when Dana Barron graduated from Bryant College (now Bryant University) with a B.S. in business management, he was an avid scuba diver with a passion for shooting underwater video. Wanting to help his son follow his passion, Mackey Barron, founder of what today is HB Communications, helped facilitate an opportunity for Dana to join oceanographer Jacques Cousteau’s team as a videographer.
As a kid, Dana Barron worked summers at his father’s business, which began as HB Motion Pictures Company in 1946. “I’d done everything there except service tech. I worked in the warehouse doing inventory. I loaded, unloaded trucks, did deliveries as well as installs,” said Barron. When it came time to decide on a career, with the choices on offer being underwater videography or joining a thriving family business, “I decided that I might as well start the first day of the rest of my life,” he said.
Barron worked his way through the ranks to CEO of what would become HB Communications. “When I started in 1981 as credit manager, I saw we needed better tools—so I installed the first computer system for company,” he said. “My father was self-taught and entrepreneurial without much business education, so I helped create an organizational structure to streamline workflow.
Headquartered in Connecticut today, HB—number 12 on SCN’s 2018 Top 50 Integrators list—has more than 350 employees, with offices in New York, Boston, and London, and an extensive partnering ecosystem that allows the company to support organizations of any size around the world.
The most significant factor in how HB does business today compared to even five years ago “is that it’s less about the technology and more about what the technology is accomplishing for clients,” said Barron. “There’s more of a focus on business outcomes, as well as understanding the need for simplicity and standardization.” Today HB has a depth of knowledge in digital media, unified communications, broadcast, and managed services, as well as traditional collaboration and experiential AV. “We can apply all those technologies to map across a client’s needs for how they communicate internally and externally.”
It’s not only HB that has evolved the way they do business and serve their clients. “Our industry has really evolved. How we apply technology to our clients’ business cases is changing the way they do business,” said Barron. “We build environments that could enable creation of the next big thing. We’re creating spaces where people can brainstorm and collaborate in ways that maximize their creative efforts. We design and build spaces that are extremely experiential, so that people want to be there.”
A business of 70 years only continues to thrive by insisting team members understand current client needs and present forward-thinking ideas. “Sometimes your own experience isn’t exactly your best friend, and you have to think disruptively to be able to evolve at the right pace.”
Nearly 10 years ago, Barron added his son Dan to the family business; Dan has become the director of brand strategy. “Dan has an amazing gift of insight that has transformed HB’s brand and messaging,” Barron bragged.
Today HB does business in 40 countries. Barron said, “If you told me that 10 years ago, I’d say, ‘Wow, really?’ It’s exciting to be a global company, and to be partnering with large multinational companies by helping them develop and support their communication ecosystem.”
Part of that partnering includes working with the PSNI Global Alliance, of which Barron is the past president/chairman. “I was honored to serve as president of PSNI. I firmly believe in what PSNI stands for,” said Barron. “Serving on the board for the past few years has given me added insight and appreciation for what this organization can accomplish” when we work together across the globe.
Barron’s motto: “Change is hard. Evolution is inevitable.”
While honored to receive this award from SCN, Barron was quick to point out, “Our success is all about our people and how we work together as a team. This award reflects the strength of our team here at HB.”
READ MORE: SCN Hall of Fame 2019