Decade of creativity equals survival for many small companies

Mark Barr

President and chief operating officer

Duraguard Services


In the decade ahead, creativity will be critical for corporate survival, according to Mark Barr, president of Duraguard Services in Racine. Barr shares his thoughts about how creativity has paved the way for growth in his business.

“We all know the story. Robust growth and good economic times. Then on Sept. 11 , 2001, terrorist-guided airplanes slammed into the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon … and life as we knew it changed forever.

“From the board room to the factory floor to the kitchen table, the purse strings tightened, and most of us have had to learn new creative strategies to sustain our businesses.

“I have always enjoyed product development and while working in the mid-1980s as vice president at D.W Davies Chemicals, I was asked to develop a coating for our new aircraft hangar floor. The hangar floor worked out great, Duraguard coatings were born and there have been thousands of projects completed over the past 20 years. One problem exists when you make a high-quality self-sustaining product: you have to look for new opportunities and products to leverage more business from your happy customers.

“In the mid-1990s, we saw the need to create and develop the decorative concrete overlayments. These products have progressed to the point now where we replace decorative tile and vinyl with poured in place resinous system. These systems look like natural stone and are very low maintenance.

“After 911, the need for a cost-effective minimalist approach led to the stained and polished concrete process.

“Now, after attending Creativity Works and getting involved with the Cultural Alliance Milwaukee, with some input of the local art community, we have created Arte Piso. The Arte Piso process utilizes a original work of art and makes a high-resolution image of it that can be encapsulated on virtually any surface. Watch for our new design studio and gallery at the Marshall Building in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.

“The use of creativity in the workplace has enabled us to keep new ideas flowing and has been instrumental in our survival and growth. The biggest asset in any business is the ability of its people to improvise and come up with creative ideas to solve problems. The most successful companies are those that foster and reward those that take the risk of radical creativity.”

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