News

Barker Specialty Receives Highly Distinguished Industry Award

February 17, 2020
Award Presentation

On February 5, 2020, Barker Specialty won the PPAI Pyramid Award which honors creative excellence in the promotional products industry. The PPAI Pyramid for Technology recognizes members who develop creative and effective websites, mobile apps, video content, social media campaigns and blogs. Each winning entry demonstrates the effective use of images, content relevance to the intended audience, ease of use and creative delivery.

IT-Marketing Team

“Barker Specialty is very excited to be recognized as the Distributor Technology leader in the promotional products field. This is a testament to our incredible and industrious IT staff,” commented Gerry Barker.

“In our inaugural year in the Marketing Department, our first goal was to overhaul our company website. We were in need of a dynamic and engaging functional website and our partnership with our IT Department brought this to life! Our IT Department is truly an immeasurable asset to Barker Specialty,” said Amy Fields, Director of Marketing at Barker Specialty.

Barker Specialty Receives Industry Accolades at Annual SAAGNY Awards Dinner

December 12, 2019
Distributor of the Year

Barker Specialty Company (BSC) is excited to be the recipient of two awards at the Annual SAAGNY Awards Dinner on December 11th. Barker Specialty was chosen as the Distributor of the Year and our own Alex D. Bowen, Account Manager at BSC, was given the Rising Star award. SAAGNY is a regional association for professionals in the promotional products industry covering Greater New York.

Alex Bowen

Alex D. Bowen was selected not only for his continued growth in sales, but his commitment to BSC and his philanthropy work. Bowen has responsibility of coordinating BSC’s nationally recognized end-user show. Bowen is also head of our B.E.A.T program – Barker Employee Appreciation Team, where he coordinates and plans monthly events to assure that all employees are engaged and valued. Outside of BSC, he is active in the Hartford’s Gay Men’s Choir and a number of organizations concerned with protecting the rights and health of those in the LGBTQ community.

“It is an honor for Barker Specialty and Alex Bowen to be recognized at SAAGNY’s Award Dinner. We are very proud of Alex for his award and are grateful to all of our customers and employees at BSC who play integral roles in making us the Distributor of the Year,” said Gerry Barker, President of BSC.

Barker Specialty Ending the Year Strong with Five New Hires

October 2, 2019

Barker Specialty Company (BSC) is excited to announce that Judi Mariano has joined the Barker team as the Director of Strategic Initiatives. BSC is also expanding their Production Team with the recent hiring of four additional Production Team Specialists.

Judi Mariano, Director of Strategic Initiatives, bring overs twenty years of promotional marketing experience to BSC. She has managed many programs for high profile brands and will use her vast skill set to expand our customer merchandising programs.

Patricia Mich and Christina Kopcza have joined BSC as Production Team Specialists. Both Patricia and Christina came from customer service backgrounds at Edible Arrangements.

Kimberly Chandler, Production Team Specialist, is a graduate of UCONN and has experience in marketing and event planning.

Amanda Cruz, Production Team Specialist, has previously worked in the insurance and banking industry, as well as customer service and order entry.

“As our sales continue to grow, we are thrilled with the addition of five dynamic employees. As more people understand the power of promotional marketing, Barker Specialty is well positioned for increased growth”, said Gerry Barker, President of Barker Specialty Company.

PPB Magazine Rising Star – Amy Fields

Sept 01, 2019
Amy Fields

Amy Fields from Barker Specialty was named one of the fourteen most watchable young leaders profiled in the Promotional Products Business magazine. Named as a Rising Star, Amy was selected from among 81 individuals who were nominated by their supervisors, co-workers, clients, peers and vendors from across the promotional products industry. Among the qualities that propelled Amy into the spotlight were her accomplishments on and off the job, coupled with demonstrated leadership potential through involvement in the industry and in her communities.

When asked why Amy is a Rising Star, President Gerry Barker said “Fields joined the company three years ago as an account executive; this year her sales will exceed $1 million. She took on the additional marketing role last year and transformed the company’s marketing both internally and externally. She also redesigned the website, implemented a referral program and initiated an internal employee recognition campaign. She represents the company as a principal in the Premier Group and is involved in the local Chamber of Commerce and in the group Abilities Without Boundaries.”.

Barker Specialty Gives to The Cheshire Community Food Pantry

July 29, 2019

As a family business rooted in Cheshire, CT, Barker Specialty was inspired by the opportunity to help support The Cheshire Community Food Pantry when they announced the great need for non-perishable foods. During summer months children are home from school, placing a larger weight on families to supply meals, in turn nearly depleting the pantry’s stock. Barker Specialty not only understands the importance of supporting local businesses, but doing what we can to help our neighbors and friends whenever we can. Food Drive

In the spirit of friendly competition, we split into four groups, assigned by birth month to combine people from different departments who may not interact with one another on a daily basis. The four groups were challenged to see which team could collect the most amount of non-perishable goods for the pantry. Over the course of two weeks the teams brought in food and put them in their designated boxes. The boxes were located in our main showroom, so staff and visitors alike would see the efforts made to collect non-perishables, with the goal to continue to inspire more people to dontate. It was a great way to start the day by seeing the growing piles of peanut butter, pastas, canned vegetables, fruit cups and so much more.

Food Drive Within two weeks we tallied the amount of items and counted 1,200! The pantry was thrilled to be able to collect these items and refill their shelves with an abundance of food varieties for families to enjoy.

It was truly rewarding to see what we can do as a company when we all pulled together for a meaningful purpose!

NEPPA MVP Spotlight: Gerry Barker, Barker Specialty Company

June 25, 2019
The Beacon / New England Promotional Products Association / June 2019 Newsletter
Gerry Barker

What is your title/role at Barker Specialty? My title is "President". My role is helping others succeed.

What do you like best about your company? I really enjoy our diverse group of employees and respect their commitment to customer satisfaction.

What is new & upcoming with your company? At Barker Specialty Company we are continuously reinventing ourselves - in addition to onboarding of new employees and our growth of business, we are pushing the print side of the business in response to the large number of print vendors who have ventured into the promotional industry.

Tell us something about you that most people may not know? Before business school, I taught high school for a year in a village in the Samoan Islands. Some villagers had never seen a red headed white man before - some were quite awed and some were quite scared!

If you could choose any profession other than your current one, what would it be? To be a rock star like Dave Andrews!

What is your favorite quote (movie/literary/personal)? "I wish I had all the money in the world, so I could give it all away" - a quote from my mother, Gloria Barker.

What is your passion? My family (Debbi, Alivia, Max, and Harrison) - I cherish every moment we are together!

What drives you? I have a sense of responsibility to a number of people - this includes family, employees, community, clients, and suppliers - I don't want to let anyone down!

Barker Specialty Company Outing to Hartford Yard Goats Game

June 4, 2019

Barker Specialty enjoyed a company outing to Dunkin Donuts Park in Hartford, CT to celebrate and support Pride Night at the Hartford Yard Goats game! Our company strongly values the importance of coming together outside of work hours for fun and meaningful events like this one. And the night certainly did not disappoint!

The Hartford Gay Men’s Chorus sang a beautiful version of the National Anthem and we cheered extra loud for two of our staff members who are part of the chorus, Alex Bowen and Josh Burkhardt. Between innings we were entertained by local youth participating in games on the field and an animated race by the Dunkin Donuts mascots!

The weather was perfect for a ball game, the Yard Goats won and the night was filled with positive messages of inclusion, acceptance and love.

Barker Specialty Announces New Hires & New Roles Coming Into 2019

December 14, 2018
L-R: Jessica Defilpo, Olivia Monroe, Debra Diana, Chelsea Fishman, Amy Fields, Max Barker

Barker Specialty Company (BSC) is pleased to announce the following new hires and new role responsibilities to the following employees:

Amy Fields, a graduate of Central Connecticut State University, will assume the role of Director of Marketing.

Chelsea Fishman, a graduate of the University of Hartford, has been named the Senior Marketing Manager.

Maxwell Barker has been named Account Manager. Maxwell is a graduate of Syracuse University and was previously an Account Executive at Justworks, selling modern HR, payroll and benefits solutions.

Olivia Monroe and Jessica Defilpo were named Production Team Specialists. Monroe, a graduate of Cazenovia College, comes to BSC with experience in customer service. Defilpo, a graduate of South New Hampshire University comes to BSC with a great deal of customer service experience and is fluent in Spanish.

Debra Diana has been hired for the BSC Fulfillment Team. Diana has experience at both private and public companies, as well as the not for profit industry.

“We are thrilled to be hiring and promoting so many employees as we reach the new year. The growth we are experiencing at BSC will help us best serve our loyal customers", said Gerry Barker, President of Barker Specialty Company.

2018 Women in Print and Promo: Ewa Karolina Wlaz, Barker Specialty Company

May 16, 2018
Ewa Wlaz

Ewa Karolina Wlaz
Sales Executive
Barker Specialty Company
Years of Experience: 16

How she got her start: I love visual and performing arts and was a double major in graphic design and theater at Regis College in the Boston area. Upon graduation, I was looking for a career in the graphic design field and dropped off my résumé at Barker Specialty Company. [Company president] Gerry Barker met with me and asked me to give him three months to try out being an admin for him. He promised I would still be able to use my design skills, but that I would see a very different side of business. I developed a new appreciation and love of the industry, and, very soon after, I moved into sales.

Her proudest career achievements: One of the key career achievements I am proud of is having a Fortune 100 client provide us with an evergreen agreement. This agreement means we are the client’s preferred vendor forever as long as we always fulfill their ethical and safety standards, which we, of course, certainly plan on doing. I am also very proud of finishing my MBA along with my husband while working full time and raising two young children.

On working in a traditionally male-dominated industry: Sales roles have predominantly been male dominant, which makes it tough to prove oneself being a woman. Generally speaking, women often have to work harder to be recognized or rewarded, but this paradigm is evolving. It has taken some time, but I do feel perceptions are shifting and people see me not only as a woman, but as a professional salesperson and, more importantly, an equal colleague among many male counterparts whom I greatly respect.

Her job advice to women: Don’t be afraid! Just go for it, be confident, acquire the necessary skills, learn as much as you can from everyone and develop your own unique style. It is always important to have a mentor or someone you can really learn from. This is a fun, energetic and creative business that many women would be thrilled to be a part of.

Her industry mentors: From the beginning of my career I have always looked up to Gerry Barker. I’ve appreciated his advice and his creative solutions to some of the most challenging tasks. He has been an integral part in making me the salesperson I am today. I also always rely on the advice and support of my husband Krys Wlaz, director of IT of PW Power Systems. Krys has always had great advice and a slightly different perspective coming from a drastically different industry.

Her biggest lesson learned: This is a great question as I feel like there is always something to learn every day and with every situation. However, at the end of the day, I think the most important is to always have a positive and caring attitude—with clients, colleagues and suppliers. [Doing so] only brings out the best in people and, in turn, makes you a success.

How she maintains a work/life balance: Having flexibility in the workplace is crucial in maintaining a healthy work/life balance. I am able to care for and spend time with my family, while being connected and aware of what goes on in the office and with my clients at all times. Having great support, both in the office with wonderful sales staff and at home from family, is key.