NPCA Founder Jim Barbour Passes at 81
Co-Founder and Charter Member Helped Establish NPCA’s Culture
Jim Barbour, a central figure in the founding of the National Precast Concrete Association more than 50 years ago, passed away Sunday, Sept. 9, in Independence, MO. Barbour, 81, was the fourth president in NPCA’s history, serving in 1969-70. His peers presented him with the association’s highest honor, the Robert E. Yoakum Award, in 1974.
A charter member of NPCA, he owned Barbour Concrete Company in Independence, MO., and worked with a small group of founders to craft the association, carrying on the vision of a trade association that would link precast concrete companies and suppliers in the U.S. and Canada to create a unified voice for the fledgling industry.
In a 2013 interview, Barbour recounted the basic premise for the founding of NPCA. “It was to establish a forum for the free exchange of ideas,” he said. “The philosophy is that we don’t have secrets. We want to share to make the industry stronger and better, and do a better job for our customers.”
A second-generation precaster with a Mechanical Engineering degree, Jim led the evolution of the company founded by his father James “Woody” Barbour from a small ornamental precaster to a unit step producer to a regional supplier of a wide range of precast products in the Kansas City region.
He involved his entire family with NPCA from the earliest days of the association and helped to create a family-friendly atmosphere that continues to this day. When the 1974 NPCA Convention came to Kansas City, for example, the Barbour family hosted the Board of Directors meeting at their house.
Jim’s wife, Daneen, was instrumental in establishing the NPCA Educational Foundation and was the second in the family to earn the Yoakum Award. Upon her death, to mark her dedication to education, the family created the Daneen Barbour scholarship in her honor in 2010. Son, Dan Barbour chaired the NPCA Board of Directors in 2007 and was presented with the Robert E. Yoakum Award in 2010 for his many years of service to the association. He is a current member of the Foundation. Daughter, Amy Burnett currently serves on the NPCA Board of Directors and also has served many years on the Foundation.
In 1993, Jim and Daneen served as the organizing committee chairs for the international BIBM conference in Washington, D.C. It was a signature event in NPCA’s history, bringing an international group of about 4,000 precast industry representatives and concrete experts from around the world to the United States.
“The first person I met in the industry – before I ever met with the search committee – was Jim Barbour,” said Ty Gable, NPCA president. “I remember thinking, if all NPCA members are like Jim Barbour, I really want to work in this industry.”
When Gable was named NPCA president and moved with his wife Barbara and children to Indianapolis from Washington, D.C., Jim and Daneen Barbour were welcoming NPCA ambassadors, Gable said.
“Jim and Daneen were instrumental in helping Barbara and me understand the association and the industry. During the BIBM planning, we spent many memorable hours working with members of precast associations throughout Europe, and he represented us in a very statesmanlike manner. He was a true gentleman and a giant in the industry.”
The family will greet friends on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, at the Speaks Suburban Chapel, 18029 E. 39th St., Independence, MO., from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. A brief memorial service will begin at 3:30 p.m. at the chapel. The family will continue to receive guests after the service.
Memorial donations may be made in Jim Barbour’s name to the Daneen S. Barbour Scholarship Fund at the National Precast Concrete Association, 1320 City Center Dr., Carmel, IN 46032. Online condolences may be expressed to the family at www.speakschapel.com.