After 50+ years in the engineering field, a career in which he witnessed and contributed to the rise of geosynthetic technologies, Paul Barker is retiring. His professional path brought him to Agru America in 1997, where he has been instrumental in the company’s growth. On 31 August 2015, he will leave his position as Senior Vice President and Officer.
In a release, Agru America President Robert Johnson recognized Barker’s work ethic, integrity, dedication, and leadership. He noted how with Barker, Agru had gone “from being a small manufacturing company without name or brand recognition to a company that has become a leader for geosynthetics in North America.”
Johnson also cited Barker’s insight as not only Agru’s advantage but “a boon to the entire industry.”
Barker’s journey into geosynthetics began more than five decades ago when he and his soon-to-be-wife Diana hastily married so that they could move to Africa, where Paul’s engineering career was to take off. His early work led to interactions with some of the first polymeric liner installations, the development of technical knowledge as the field of geosynthetics emerged, and industry-wide recognition.
Agru held a special 50th anniversary party for Barker, during the Geosynthetics 2013 conference (Long Beach, California). With his wife and one of his sons on hand, Barker joked that he might start a 50 Years Club for the field—“though the membership would be lonely,” he said.
“Paul is probably admired most for the way he handles himself as a true gentleman and the respect with which he treats his wife, family, colleagues, and customers,” said Agru’s Johnson.
Indeed, during the 50th anniversary celebration of his career, that was a universal sentiment from attendees, both in toasts to Barker and his family and in private conversations around the event.
A number of other well-wishings have been expressed on Agru’s website in the comment section of the official retirement announcement. Industry veteran Ron Frobel, for example, wrote:
Who would have thought that your beginning work with butyl in 1963 would have led to such a long and illustrious career in geosynthetics (52 years has got to be the record), I, for one, have learned from your experience and knowledge and have thoroughly enjoyed working with you on numerous projects over the years. Your stories and memories of the early years have been an inspiration to all. Again, Congratulations and now go and enjoy future travels and leisure time.
“We all have the highest admiration for Paul,” Johnson concluded, “and wish him the very best. He will be missed.”
Geosynthetica congratulates Paul on his extraordinary career, and we thank him for his contributions to the field and the friendship that he and his family have shared with us over the years. It’s a relationship that truly goes back for our team. Paul’s son Matt was a North Houston middle-school classmate of Geosynthetica’s Director Elizabeth Peggs.