John W. Barfield
Chairman Emeritus, The Bartech Group
The 50th anniversary of Washtenaw Community College, which plays a special role in one of the most vibrant regions in the state of Michigan, has special meaning for me.
I vividly recall attending a meeting in 1965 of the Rotary Club of Ypsilanti, where Dr. David Ponitz shared his proposal for turning an apple orchard into a community college that could become a business incubator for Washtenaw County. Despite skepticism from many who heard him, Dr. Ponitz did establish an affordable, easy-to-access community college. As a result, the most successful company I founded in my sixty-year career as an entrepreneur got its start in Ypsilanti.
The first six employees of John Barfield & Associates, formed in 1977, were students at Washtenaw Community College. From those humble beginnings, John Barfield & Associates became Bartech, an international workforce management and staffing solutions firm that today employs or manages more than 30,000 consultants and manages client expenditures of more than $3.5 billion. Bartech was named the top company in the workforce management industry in 2014 by one of the industry’s leading magazines.
In recent years, Dr. Rose Bellanca has been very supportive of several community initiatives that are important to me – including a reinvestment in the historic Parkridge Community Center on Ypsilanti’s south side.
I never dreamed that Dr. Ponitz’s vision would have such a profound impact on my life and the lives of others. But I am grateful – and we are all better off – that it did.