Gathering Intelligence: Former Marine Eric Barton Has Found His Callings

Posted on November 3, 2017 with No Comments

Editor’s Note: The following Veterans Spotlight story was featured in Knoxville’s Cityview Magazine.

By Chrissy Keuper, Cityview Magazine –

Eric Barton is leading a tour around the Villa Collina, his 40,250-square-foot Italianate mansion in Knoxville, high on a bluff above a bend in the Tennessee River. As he explains the energy improvements that he’s overseen, the art and design choices that he’s made, and the philanthropic events he’s using the house for, it becomes obvious that he is a person who knows exactly what he wants and how to get it.

His confidence is contagious:

“My mother was 13 years old when she got pregnant with me and I’m her only child… she had a tough upbringing. Growing up, she drank and did all the things she shouldn’t have been doing, but she told me I could do anything, told me I was the best thing that ever happened to her—that’s the first memory that I have. That brought me a lot of confidence. I am completely, 100 percent confident in myself and I want everyone to be that way.”

Barton was born on the 5th of December 1975 in the small town of Centralia, Illinois, and grew up down the road in Sandoval. He graduated high school in 1993 as a junior at age 17, one of a class of 31 people. He immediately enlisted in the Marine Corps:

“My father was a Marine. I actually looked at the Air Force, first. I wanted to be an electronics technician, a satellite technician, but chose the Marine Corps. I’m a little biased toward the Marine Corps. The Corps expects more from a person, you know: ‘the few, the proud.’ It’s what they hang their hat on.”

Following boot camp and combat training, Barton attended school for 13 months to be a satellite technician. Stationed in Okinawa, Japan, he was able to travel to other parts of Asia during his tour. He also began his Associates Degree in Computer Studies, through the University of Maryland’s Asian Division, finishing in 1996 when he returned to the US. It was the first of a handful of degrees he has earned, so far:

“Education is important. It makes me a more rounded person, and it sets an example…. Education is critical. It’s always been big for me, personally and professionally, so whenever I have free time, I’ll start another degree or do courses. I try to read a book a week, every week. I can’t be 5000 years old, but my mind can have 5000 years of wisdom.”

While he was stationed at Camp LeJeune, Barton began a Bachelor of Science in Electronics Management from the University of Southern Illinois, finishing in 2001, at the same University where many of his friends in Illinois completed their programs of study…and he had already been out of the country and seen part of the world. He was commissioned as a Sergeant and attended The Basic School, the Marine Corps’ officer candidates school in Quantico, Virginia. When he finished, there were four slots for Ground Intelligence, which is where he wanted to work:

“Ground Intelligence involves officers and commanders in the operating forces responsible for analyzing intelligence and planning deployment and tactical employment of ground surveillance and reconnaissance units.”

From 2001 to 2003, Barton was deployed in the Gulf of Aden with the 2nd Marine Division as an Antiterrorism/Force Protection Officer and Top Secret Control officer; then with the 1st Battalion, 10th Marines, where he was named a top lieutenant; then as Captain and Senior Analyst with the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa National Intelligence Cell in eastern Africa. He spent those two years on a ship in the Persian Gulf. It was the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in the US and it was a busy time in the region:

“We had 32 analysts and I was a Captain at the time, so I was in charge of briefings in the evenings. We would gather intelligence on transregional terrorism: people, equipment, and weapons of mass destruction, as they were moving throughout eastern Africa, across the Gulf into Yemen, the Saudi peninsula, and into Iraq.”

A Tug at the Heart

While deployed, Eric earned his Master of Business Administration in Information Technology, and he and his wife decided to adopt two boys from Ethiopia. “I got out in 2003 and I went back that next summer and brought them home to Georgia, where the family was living at the time, in November of 2004.” The boys are the youngest of Eric’s five children.

From 2003 to 2009, Eric was with the USMC Individual Ready Reserve, though not a part of the active military. “I’d been active for 11 years and I loved it, I’d had a great career, just a wonderful career. And the reason I got out—there was just a tug at my heart, something calling me to get out. It was a scary decision, to do that.” He earned a Master of Public Administration in Knowledge Management, began working as the Youth Director at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Conyers, and began attending Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta to earn a Master of Divinity degree: “I felt a pretty strong calling—early in 2000, really.”

In 2005, Eric became an ordained Presbyterian minister and attended the US Army Chaplain School at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He was also offered a one-year contract as a project manager in Baghdad, Iraq. “The offer was $250,000 for the year. I’d never made that kind of money before. It would definitely help us out, as we were trying to get out of school debt and adoption debt, and get me on track to find a more stable job in the States.” A friend told him that with his military background, he’d be perfect for the job.

“Didn’t mean to, just saw an opportunity.”

A private security team picked Eric up at the airport in Baghdad and transported him to the Green Zone to help manage an IT contract for the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shield. “I’d been in seminary for two years and then all of a sudden, I was in a war zone.” When the job was finished, he was offered another opportunity to assist the US military’s transition to private security contracts, devising a security plan for truck convoys that were moving fuel and materials all over Iraq to and from Camp Taji, where the Iraqi Mechanized Division was located. “Two hundred and fifty places we’ve gotta deliver, it was taking tens of thousands of troops, it was dangerous, so the idea was to see if contractors could do it cheaper and more effectively. We were coming up with a methodology for doing this.”

He ran the convoys at night with a mixture of American and Kurdish personnel. “We delivered everything on time, or early, and no one was hurt. A few bombs blew up in front of us, or hit the back of the truck, but none of our people were hurt.” As a result, Eric contracted for the next three years, working with 25 teams. That experience led to Eric starting Critical Mission Support Services in Maryville, Tennessee (sold in 2010 and rebranded as RELYANT). “That set a foundation,” and in 2007, he started Vanquish Worldwide, LLC. (In 2011, Vanquish won a $985 million contract with National Afghan Trucking, delivering fuel and materials to all of the US FOBs in Afghanistan and the Middle East.) He was running multiple companies at the same time and employing about 11,000 people.

He also fell into the restaurant business, buying into Fort-Lauderdale, Florida-based Froots, and helping the company win a contract to provide a healthy alternative to fast food on US military bases.

“Didn’t mean to, just saw an opportunity,” is a statement that appears to be Eric’s business mantra. “In 2008, I was in Dubai looking for a car and I saw this magazine with these beautiful horses on it and I thought, ‘I’ve never seen this kind of horse.’ It looks like a Clydesdale, but it’s smaller.”

Gypsy Vanner horses are named after the Romany Gypsies (the name Vanner comes from “caravan”). They’re bred to be able to pull heavy wagons or vardos and to be docile enough for children to care for and learn to ride. Eric and his family bought some land and opened LexLin Gypsy Ranch in Rockwood, Tennessee, for breeding and selling Gypsy Vanner horses. “We also have a leadership course—we take police officers and executives and people who’ve never been on a horse and do a weekend leadership seminar, using the horse as a training aid.” Some of the horses are sold and some are donated to therapy centers across the country.

These are only a few examples of Barton’s business endeavors and philanthropy efforts. His companies hire lots of veterans and former military members and in 2010, he got involved with the Tennessee Veterans Business Association, supporting veterans as they become entrepreneurs themselves. He has sponsored refugees from Iraq and other countries; is a member of various philanthropic boards; and donates millions to charities, foundations, scholarships, and endowments.

He attributes his success mostly to his theological and military backgrounds. “My personal faith has helped me understand and love and cherish differences and not be, in any way, shaken by someone else’s faith.” The Marines provided him with the experience of working around people with lots of different cultural and religious traditions. “It’s the majority of the foundation of who I am. From 17 on, it was the experience and the leadership that the Marine Corps gave me. Some of it’s haphazard, some of it’s not.” Barton’s experience provided a network of people and potential business contacts, and it taught him that if something needed to be done, he should learn how to do it, himself.

“We needed weapons, so I became pretty proficient at understanding the Department of Defense trade controls and licensing process. I go to a country to do logistics, but I need security, so I find out how to do security. And I’ve gotta have good communications, so I figure out how to have a communications system, based on my background as a satellite technician. I have a trucking company [Vanquish Express] and I need drivers, so I started the school in 2009 [Peak Technical Institute in Maryville], and we graduate 50 students a month, now.” Eric himself qualified for a commercial driver’s license so that he would know what was involved. And you can call him Dr. Barton. In 2016, he received his Doctorate of Business Administration in Leadership.

Category: Vanquish Worldwide

Jenny of LexLin Making Strides in Therapy Center Work After LexLin Gypsy Gift Donation

Posted on January 9, 2017 with No Comments

With the donation of 45 Gypsy Vanner horses over the past three years as part of the LexLin Gypsy Gift program, LexLin Gypsy Ranch has seen these horses affect 169,000 lives on average per year or 3.4 million lives, not including their families, loved ones and friends, over the next two decades.

Each horse’s impact is unique, but LexLin is honored to share updates on their Gypsy Vanners’ positive impact in PATH International Premier Accredited therapy centers across the U.S.

Indiana-based Reins of Life Inc. Therapeutic Riding Center was awarded Jenny of LexLin in the 2015 Gypsy Gift program. Since arriving at the therapy center, Jenny has completed training to become a therapeutic riding horse.

“Reins of Life received a grant from St. Joseph Community Foundation to pay for training Jenny. She was sent to Elizabeth Grainger, owner/trainer of Grainger Dressage in South Bend, IN for three months of professional training,” Reins of Life Instructor Holly Byers said. “Once she was back home, she received another three months of in-house training with Elizabeth and the instructors at Reins of Life.

“While it was a big task for a therapeutic riding center to take on a horse that wasn’t trained to ride, many involved with her will agree that she was one of the most trainable horses they have worked with,” she added. “She is so incredibly smart and willing to please.”

Jenny was introduced to the Reins of Life herd with her very own jubilee; complete with pink princess tiara cakes, a blessing of the herd and a demonstration of Jenny’s abilities to an audience of close to 100 people.

“It was her very first public performance and she acted like a seasoned pro. Everyone involved with Reins of Life quickly fell in love with her,” Byers said.

Jenny began working with students in the spring of 2016, and she now participates in 3-4 lessons a week and continues to work with the instructors to continue developing her skills.

“She is quickly showing that her specialty lies with some of our youngest students. They love to play soccer on her,” Byers said. “Thank you again for this wonderful mare. She is my princess and I adore her.”

Peak Technical Institute’s new Hospitality Programs prepare individuals for ‘exciting, rewarding’ careers, boost local economies

Posted on December 27, 2016 with No Comments

Maryville-based private occupational school Peak Technical Institute is pleased to announce the roll out of its newest hospitality and professional service courses Housekeeping Training and Food & Beverage Service starting in early 2017, preparing individuals for an exciting, rewarding career in a robust industry.

“Individuals can come here and change their careers and lives in just a matter of weeks in our hospitality programs,” Peak Technical Institute President and CEO Dr. Eric W. Barton said. “Imagine the impact we can make in Knoxville, Tennessee and the nation.”

Peak’s Housekeeping Training Program hones roles and responsibilities of a housekeeper/room attendant, reflecting high standards of work, customer service, personal hygiene/attributes, cleaning methods, rooms, housekeeping services, laundry, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and many more relevant topics. The Food & Beverage Service program prepares students in food and beverage service, hygienic food and beverage, resume writing 101, customer service and basic knowledge on understanding risks and preventative measures at work.

Both the Housekeeping and Food & Beverage Service programs are approved through the Tennessee Higher Education Commission.

Program Director and Instructor Jason King said the two newest hospitality courses under the Peak brand are “revolutionary” for the region’s industry.

“These types of trainings are new and revolutionary for the hospitality industry, offering students a well-rounded education for whenever they start their new careers,” King said. “Students in our Food & Beverage, housekeeping or hospitality programs will graduate better prepared for the industry and will be one step ahead of their competition, increasing their potential for future success in this robust industry.”

Peak will be collaborating with the Greater Knoxville Hospitality Association and area Chambers of Commerce in an effort to place graduating students in successful, rewarding job opportunities.

GKHA, a nonprofit membership organization for hotels/lodging, restaurants, venues, attractions, services and suppliers of hospitality and tourism sectors, encompasses more than 9,000 lodging and hotel rooms within the Knoxville region of Knox, Anderson, Blount, Roane and Loudon counties.

“The hospitality industry is the No. 2 industry in the state of Tennessee,” GKHA Executive Director Jill Thompson said. “With 225 hotels in just the Knoxville area alone, this new program will not only be pivotal for individuals looking for a new career with vast opportunities but will also be beneficial for our local economies.”

For more information or to sign up, visit YouHaveArrived.com or contact Peak at 855-399-7325.

Category: Uncategorized

DEMA Announces Association Expansion to Tennessee, Offers Additional Services for Members

Posted on December 27, 2016 with No Comments

Domestic Estate Management Association (DEMA), an international educational association for the private service community, is pleased to announce expansion of its member offerings worldwide with new office space in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The added space, with the support of existing DEMA offices in Michigan and Orlando, will open in early 2017. In partnership with local private occupational school Peak Technical Institute, DEMA will offer training workshops and program offerings in the hospitality and professional service industries, utilizing the magnificent Villa Collina mansion, the largest multimillion dollar home in the state of Tennessee.

DEMA is thrilled to have this opportunity to expand our support with this new DEMA location. With members throughout the U.S. and internationally, our new Knoxville office offers centrally-located support with new opportunities through the Villa Collina,” DE
MA President and Co-Founder Matthew Hack said.

The Villa Collina, constructed in the late 1990s, is a 36,720 square-foot mansion poised on 8 acres of rolling hills at the bank of the majestic Tennessee River in Knoxville, Tennessee. The beautiful Villa Collina features 50 rooms, including 8 bedrooms, 11 full bathrooms, indoor and outdoor pools and features a host of unique entertaining amenities, including a 2,600 square-foot wine cellar, sauna, dance floor, exercise room, tri-level library, home theatre and staff quarters.

DEMA will utilize the estate for a variety of DEMA functions, including conferences, workshops and member gatherings.

“2017 is going to be an exceptionally exciting year for DEMA,” Vice President and Co-Founder Michael Wright said. “The Villa Collina is a beautiful piece of Tennessee history that will greatly benefit DEMA and its members.”

Prided as the largest private service professional association, DEMA has expanded to over 50 states and 18 countries to raise industry standards.

Vanquish Worldwide Announces President and CEO Eric W. Barton Receives Doctorate Degree

Posted on December 1, 2016 with No Comments

eb-walden-graduation-20Vanquish Worldwide, a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business, is pleased to announce Founder, President and CEO Eric W. Barton received his doctorate degree in business administration with a specialization in leadership from Walden University on July 16, 2016, building upon his dream of becoming a well-rounded entrepreneur and offering practical experience to other growing small businesses around the country.eb-walden-graduation-13

Dr. Barton’s dissertation, “Perceived Best Practices of Small Business Executives in War Zones,” builds upon Barton’s practical experience overseas single-handedly helping his small businesses and startups, including Vanquish Worldwide, become and maintain profitability for over a decade.

“A goal of mine since childhood was to earn the title Dr., the highest form of scholarship. Over the past 7+ years, my family and friends patiently supported my aspirations,” Barton said. “Thank you for your support and friendship over the years.”

Degree commencement was held at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Md.

In July and August, Dr. Eric W. Barton co-authored several articles to be published in peer-reviewed journals. He is also up for Walden University’s doctoral study research award for the year.

eb-walden-graduation-16

LexLin Gives Back – Part 3 of 3: Understanding The Dream

Posted on October 1, 2016 with Comments Off on LexLin Gives Back – Part 3 of 3: Understanding The Dream

LexLin Gives Back is a three-part blog series that tells the story of LexLin’s Gypsy Gift donation campaign through the eyes of the children of LexLin Gypsy Ranch owners Eric and Mechelle Barton. Cody King, the eldest of two girls and three boys, writes the third and final installment in the blog series. Cody writes on how Eric, Mechelle and the LexLin family has inspired him to want to change the lives of others. From all of us at LexLin Gypsy Ranch, we hope that you have enjoyed this unique perspective from LexLin’s next generation.

 

Cody is the eldest of Eric and Mechelle Barton’s two girls and three boys.

My name is Cody and I am 22 years old, which makes me the oldest of the five children. Throughout my life, I have had the opportunity to spend time with my parents while the younger kids were able to play. At times, I enjoyed the quality time. On the other hand, I had to do “adult” work, but now I would never trade listening to my parents’ dreams and ambitions for LexLin.

 

As I listen to the people that now have these incredible horses, read testimonials on the programs that they are in, and mostly see the change that is happening around me every day because of Gypsy Gift, I pause in my life. I am impacted! My life changes because I can reflect on how blessed I am to have a family that instills giving back. I am not personally injured. I am not a veteran. I am not sick or disabled BUT being a part of this and seeing the growth of Gypsy Gift reminds me to thank those who are heroes and fight for our country as they are all around us every day. This program instills passion and allows me to see without judgment, as we never know when our own life could change in an instant, what our families and communities may face throughout life, or what our future children and neighbors will experience in the future. To see life through a different lens is sometimes hard but very necessary at times. This is what seeing this project means to me.

As I reflect back on LexLin throughout the years and read my sisters’ blogs, I thinking about Debra Rogers’ testimonial on her experience with Stormy.

From left, Lexi, Eric and Cody pose for a photo at a Gypsy Vanner horse ranch in Wales in 2010.

From left, Lexi, Eric and Cody pose for a photo at a Gypsy Vanner horse ranch in Wales in 2010.

“I have seen and interacted with one of their Gypsy horses. The horse I refer to is Stormy with Equest Hooves For Heroes (H4H). I just have never seen a more calm, friendly horse in all my life! Not only does Stormy possess strength, great build, and great color, he has an excellent disposition. I’m thankful to LexLin for this donation and can testify that if all their horses are like Stormy – then all their horses are awesome!”

 

Disposition.

 

It really hit home when I read that word. All of the horses at LexLin may not have the same personality or end up walking a similar journey, but they cultivate a unique and powerful disposition through their home base at LexLin Gypsy Ranch. They are able to reach a greater potential than ever imagined.

A young Cody learns how to ride a horse.

A young Cody learns how to ride a horse.

It is more than just a horse. It is these horses’ journey through the hearts and hands at LexLin that love and care for these lively creatures that enables them to have a giving heart to the people and places that they come in contact with through Gypsy Gift.

 

Even though we call it “Gypsy Gift,” as we visualize these horses gifted to PATH International Premier Accredited centers, we forget about the relationship and journey that continues to grow and develop mutually between the centers and the horses. The caring individuals at LexLin are making a difference in the centers by providing a well-trained and beautiful Gypsy Vanner but more importantly a horse that has a heart bigger than imaginable that is able to love the people that he or she meets. The programs that these Gypsy Vanners are becoming a part of are making a difference, and the opportunity to see Gypsy Vanners from LexLin take part in being one piece of the puzzle is truly inspiring.

Cody and Eric Barton pose for a photo during an Honoring Our Heroes event for law enforcement, firefighters and EMTs in 2015. The event was hosted by sister companies Vanquish Worldwide, LexLin Gypsy Ranch, Peak Technical Institute and Front Range Training and Consulting.

Cody and Eric Barton pose for a photo during an Honoring Our Heroes event for law enforcement, firefighters and EMTs in 2015. The event was hosted by sister companies Vanquish Worldwide, LexLin Gypsy Ranch, Peak Technical Institute and Front Range Training and Consulting.

LexLin is continually pushing forward and living out the motto, “Living The Dream.” A dream is exactly how this started in the first place, and the dreams of my family and the people that we call family on the ranch are always ready to listen to new ideas and opportunities. My parents are “go-getters” in the work place, and I am excited to see what is to come in the rest of 2016. If you know either of them, then you know 2016 is not over until the ball drops. LexLin hopes to donate 10 more horses in this year alone, and I cannot wait to see where these horses will go and the changes that will be made.

 

It is exciting to see the many opportunities that have risen from LexLin’s events new and old such as Honoring our Heroes, LexLin’s horse auction benefitting Smoky Mountain Service Dogs, our open houses, and donating part of individual sales to local charities in the community.

Dances With Horses was an event that LexLin took part in this year. I was able to spend time with friends and family, learn more about local businesses and impacts horses make, watch my mom perform a dance routine in the entertainment part of the night’s fundraiser, and mostly see LexLin help another incredible program Horse Haven.

 

Ben, from left, Cody and Lindie, three of Eric and Mechelle Barton’s children, pose for a photo at LexLin Gypsy Ranch.

Ben, from left, Cody and Lindie, three of Eric and Mechelle Barton’s children, pose for a photo at LexLin Gypsy Ranch.

LexLin went beyond its three-year goal of donating 10 horses a year and now has donated 45 horses over the past three years. The LexLin motto “Living The Dream” is not about my dream, my parents’ personal dreams or business dreams, my siblings’ dreams, or the dreams of the programs and charities that we collaborate with throughout the years. It is a LIVING dream that continues every day and does not belong to one individual. It is the collective life dreams of everyone coming together and breaking through what one could create on his or her own.

Give back. YOU can help someone and maybe that person will do the same for another just as these Gypsy Vanners dedicate their life purpose to helping others.

 

Whether you want to attend a LexLin open house, help or donate at a LexLin charity event, simply share a charity contest on social media, or take part in something in your own community – remember to live the dream. Share your unique ideas and dreams with others around you. You never know the imprint that you may leave on somebody or the impact something may have that could positively change your life.

Cody

 

The Barton family, along with their companies LexLin Gypsy Ranch and Vanquish Worldwide make a donation to Smoky Mountain Service Dogs during a 2014 SMSD Benefit Auction at LexLin.

The Barton family, along with their companies LexLin Gypsy Ranch and Vanquish Worldwide make a donation to Smoky Mountain Service Dogs during a 2014 SMSD Benefit Auction at LexLin.

Category: Uncategorized

LexLin Gives Back – Part 2 of 3: Sharing The Dream

Posted on September 1, 2016 with No Comments

LexLin Gives Back is a three-part blog series that tells the story of LexLin’s Gypsy Gift donation campaign through the eyes of the children of LexLin Gypsy Ranch owners Eric and Mechelle Barton.  Lexi Barton, the eldest daughter of two girls and three boys, writes the following blog. In this second blog, Lexi shares her perspective on how LexLin has seen an outpouring of support for LexLin’s Gypsy Gift program over the years and how countless lives have been impacted across the country. The three-part blog series will conclude with a final blog written by Cody, which will be published Oct. 1st. From all of us at LexLin Gypsy Ranch, we hope that you enjoy this unique perspective from LexLin’s next generation.

Lexi Barton, the eldest daughter of two girls and three boys, shares her perspective on how LexLin has seen an outpouring of support for LexLin’s Gypsy Gift program.

Since we have begun this “Give Back” journey, we have seen our LexLin following grow exponentially. Being a part of this experience that provides services for others has been an incredible journey. Providing people in need with an opportunity to impact and enrich the lives of the developmentally disabled, sick, injured, troubled and developing lives on a daily basis by receiving one of LexLin Gypsy Vanner horses is an honor. Gypsy Horses are gentle loving animals and we at LexLin do believe our horses are fit for this type of work.  I believe that LexLin has given me the surest way to find happiness in my own life, which is to help others find happiness in theirs, whether that be across the U.S. or around the world.

Lexi pictured at the Smoky Mountain Service Dogs Auction, where LexLin donated proceeds from the day’s horse auction to the nonprofit program, which helps disabled veterans by pairing them with service dogs.

Lexi pictured at the Smoky Mountain Service Dogs Auction, where LexLin donated proceeds from the day’s horse auction to the nonprofit program, which helps disabled veterans by pairing them with service dogs.

For me, I have been in awe over the years witnessing all of the positive feedback on LexLin’s Facebook and other social media accounts. I love to read the testimonials and positive feedback these horses have been making in people’s lives. LexLin has donated 45 horses within the past three years with plans to donate many more to PATH International Premier Accredited therapy centers. These have an impact on 169,000 lives on average per year or 3.4 million lives, not including their families, loved ones and friends, over the next two decades. Here is some feedback we have gotten over the years that have really touched my heart.

LexxiBeth, a Gypsy Vanner President & CEO Dr. Eric W. Barton named after his eldest daughter, Lexi.

LexxiBeth, a Gypsy Vanner President & CEO Dr. Eric W. Barton named after his eldest daughter, Lexi.

“I have experienced first-hand what a difference a good horse can make to a therapy program!” Ginger Krause said. “It is just incredible that 10 of these gorgeous and kind horses will go to such deserving centers from the generosity of the LexLin Gypsy Ranch!”

Lexi, far right, and her younger sister Lindie pictured during a Veteran’s Day parade.

Lexi, far right, and her younger sister Lindie pictured during a Veteran’s Day parade.

And another:

“I have seen and interacted with one of their Gypsy horses. The horse I refer to is Stormy with Equest Hooves For Heroes (H4H). I just have never seen a more calm, friendly horse in all my life! Not only does Stormy possess strength, great build, and great color, he has an excellent disposition,” Debra Rogers said. “I’m thankful to LexLin for this donation and can testify that if all their horses are like Stormy – then all their horses are awesome!”

Gypsy Gift Mapping-01

Through Gypsy Gift, the community plays a pivotal role on which PATH center will receive a Gypsy Vanner horse. How the voting process works is based on fan favorites. When in the running, the community will vote for a fan favorite by “liking” and sharing through Facebook to spread the word. After the centers have been selected, the top nominated and one client selected by Lexlin staff will be able to enter the Lexlin Gypsy Gift program.

This year’s Gypsy Gift campaign received overwhelming support with 33 therapy centers receiving a combined 171,675 votes in less than two months of voting. Several of the winning centers received more than 1,000 votes in one day towards the end of the voting phase, and the winning centers from No. 3 through No. 11 varied fan favorite placement day to day. The 11th place center received 13,000 votes and was only 161 votes behind the 10th place center.

A teenaged Lexi shows affection to the Gypsy Vanners at the LexLin Ranch in Rockwood, TN.

A teenaged Lexi shows affection to the Gypsy Vanners at the LexLin Ranch in Rockwood, TN.

While our family has seen an overwhelmingly positive response to our Gypsy Gift initiative, it has been even more powerful for me and my family to witness the positive impact LexLin’s Gypsy Vanner horses are making in countless lives each week. According to feedback we’ve gotten from some of these therapy centers, each of the horses regularly impact 50-100 lives on a weekly basis. And as you can see in the graphic included in this blog, these horses and therapy centers are spread across the United States.

“We were really excited about receiving the horse,” Emily Gardner, with one of the therapeutic centers receiving a Gypsy Vanner said. “It will add additional spots to our schedule that we couldn’t have done before.”

Giving to PATH-accredited centers was the perfect fit and exposed the Gypsy Vanners to an even greater potential of positively influencing as many lives as possible. PATH International, dedicated to promoting safe and effective therapeutic horseback riding throughout the U.S. and Canada, has more than 850 member centers and nearly 7,600 individual members in countries all over the world today who help and support more than 54,000 men, women and children with special needs each year through a variety of equine-assisted activities and therapy programs.

LexLin only picks the very best purebred Gypsy Vanners, which are DNA verified Gypsy horses registered with the Gypsy Vanner Horse Society, providing the horses with only the best care and professional training.

“Gypsies are wonderfully suited for therapeutic purposes with their build, temperament, size and love for people,” LexLin President and CEO Dr. Eric W. Barton said. “We want to enable people in need around the U.S. to have access to these extremely tractable horses as it’s amazing to witness what these horses can do for improving health, skills and overall improved healing and quality of life for many people. PATH-accredited centers are giving back to people on a daily basis and we strongly believe in their programs and want to give back to communities around the U.S. in this special way.”

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Category: Uncategorized

LexLin Gives Back – Part 1 of 3: Living The Dream

Posted on September 1, 2016 with No Comments

LexLin Gives Back is a three-part blog series that tells the story of LexLin’s Gypsy Gift donation campaign through the eyes of the children of LexLin Gypsy Ranch owners Eric and Mechelle Barton. The following blog is written by Lindie Barton, the middle child of two girls and three boys. In this first blog, Lindie shares her perspective on the impact LexLin’s Gypsy Gift program has made on countless lives across the country. The second blog will be written by Lexi and will be published on our website Sept. 1st, and the three-part blog series will conclude with a final blog written by Cody, which will be published Oct. 1st. From all of us at LexLin Gypsy Ranch, we hope that you enjoy this unique perspective from LexLin’s next generation.

A 10-year-old Lindie Barton poses for a photo with LexLin’s Lindie’s Promise in 2010.

A 10-year-old Lindie Barton poses for a photo with LexLin’s Lindie’s Promise in 2010.

My name is Lindie Barton, the 16-year-old daughter of LexLin Gypsy Ranch owners Eric and Mechelle Barton. Over the last six years, the most formative years of my young adult life, I believe – I have witnessed my parents’ ever-growing desire to do something big for society. One of their biggest charitable missions eventually became LexLin’s beloved Gypsy Gift program. This emotionally-riddled, yet awe-inspiring program has taught me some very important lessons in life. One in particular that has stuck with me over the years is that helping others is a priceless, precious gift.

This blog, LexLin Gives Back, begins a three-part series on the evolution of the LexLin Gypsy Gift program, why LexLin gives back, its charitable mission and the positive response we have seen from this wonderful program and how the horses have positively changed lives. I hope that you enjoy my take on the LexLin Gypsy Gift program.

Lexi and Lindie playing at the LexLin Ranch in Rockwood, TN.

Lexi and Lindie playing at the LexLin Ranch in Rockwood, TN.

My Mom and Dad created Rockwood, TN-based LexLin Gypsy Ranch in 2009 as a family business with the motto of “living the dream.” The ranch was named after my sister Lexi and I; and ultimately for LexLin and its owners, living the dream means giving back to the community. LexLin has donated 45 horses within the past 3 years: 6 being donated in 2013, 17 in 2014, 10 in 2015 and 11 more in 2016. Their goal was to donate at least 30 horses by the end of a three-year period from 2014-2016. Our family has exceeded that goal by putting tons of time and dedication into LexLin and its multiple charitable programs such as LexLin Gives Back – Honoring Our Heroes Event, Honoring Our Heroes’ successor LexLin Gypsy Gift Program and donations to veteran-based Smoky Mountain Service Dogs and other nonprofit organizations.

The LexLin Gives Back – Honoring Our Heroes Event was LexLin’s first charitable program dedicated to giving back to its community. It was a great program based on giving back to our veterans by donating a Gypsy Vanner to a veteran who has served at least 1 year in Iraq or Afghanistan. In 2011, LexLin held its first annual LexLin Gives Back – Honoring Our Heroes Contest. The winner of this contest was Chris Kelly, a veteran of California who won LexLin’s Braveheart. In 2012, LexLin held its second annual contest, which was won by firefighter Jason Warrenfeltz, who won LexLin’s Swade. The third and last annual contest for LexLin Gives Back – Honoring Our Heroes Event was held in 2013 and for the first time, fans and customers of LexLin chose the horse and its recipient. The horse donated for that final year was Stormy, a black and white tobiano Gypsy Vanner who won the hearts of many and was selected for the program. During the voting stages, two applicants quickly rose to the forefront of the voting phase. One applicant was an outstanding individual whose support was well organized by a family member and the other was the Equest Hooves for Heroes program in Texas. My parents quickly realized that the customers and fans of LexLin know best who could really use a Gypsy Vanner horse for therapeutic purposes. LexLin’s Gypsy Gift program was born.

Lexi and Lindie Barton goof off during the 2014 horse auction to benefit Smoky Mountain Service Dogs.

Lexi and Lindie Barton goof off during the 2014 horse auction to benefit Smoky Mountain Service Dogs.

From Honoring Our Heroes came LexLin’s Gypsy Gift Program, which is a program to raise, train and donate LexLin Gypsy Horses for future careers in Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) for nonprofit centers accredited through PATH International. Through these PATH International Premier Accredited therapy centers, LexLin’s Gypsy Vanners work with military veterans and law enforcement suffering from PTSD, amputees, at-risk youth, autistic children, disabled adults, abused women and even families suffering the loss of a young child.

“If one horse on average reaches 56 people on a weekly basis that gives 45 LexLin Gypsy Vanners a chance to impact lives 126,000 times in one year alone, assuming that the horses need two weeks off during the year for sickness, holidays, etc. We’re not even taking into consideration the impact that therapy has on the families, friends and loved ones of that person working with the horse,” President and CEO Dr. Eric W. Barton said. “Imagine how many lives can be touched over 20-plus years with these 45 horses alone. The impact would reach 2.5 million lives.”

Lindie and Eric Barton spend quality father-daughter time together on the ranch.

Lindie and Eric Barton spend quality father-daughter time together on the ranch.

These horses have touched the lives of many. I am always touched to hear about how these horses have made an impact in so many people’s lives. Little Lyric, a Gypsy Vanner donated in 2015, has helped several in grief counseling who had lost their young child.

“Lyric took on the ‘role’ of one of the children and actual laid down in the grass with one of the Moms. As everyone cried this Mom said she felt touched by the spirit of the lost child,” Carol Young of Healing Strides in Virginia said. “This had mirrored another Mom and another horse the previous week. Both very extreme responses for a horse to have in the presence of people, let alone two weeks in a row with two different people.”

LexLin Gypsy Ranch, hailed as the largest independent Gypsy Vanner operation in North America, is a family business donating 45 horses over a three-year period. The Honoring Our Heroes Event and LexLin’s Gypsy Gift Program were both two huge programs that helped them achieve their goal. These horses impact the lives of the developmentally disabled, sick, injured, troubled and developing lives on a daily basis through these programs.

“At LexLin Gypsy Ranch, we are so blessed to be able to donate these high-quality horses, many imported or first generation imports, to such deserving therapy centers and individuals who truly make a difference in countless lives,” Barton said. “LexLin is constantly looking for ways to give back to people all over the U.S.”

We are excited to see what the future holds!

The Barton children: Jon, Cody, Lindie, Lexi and Ben.

The Barton children: Jon, Cody, Lindie, Lexi and Ben.

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Teknovation.biz on Eric Barton, PART 3: Community service part of Eric Barton’s philosophy

Posted on January 7, 2016 with No Comments

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final article in a three-part series focused on Eric Barton and the Vanquish Worldwide portfolio of enterprises.)

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

Strategy, a keen sense about business opportunities, and a desire to support his community clearly drive Eric Barton as he guides the continued growth of Vanquish Worldwide LLC.

“The military is a thread through many of the things we do,” the Owner, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Maryville-based company says. The knowledge gained from his service as a Marine and a contractor for government agencies has provided a strong foundation for the now eight-year old company.

Today, even as Vanquish Worldwide continues to support government clients, it is also focused on diversifying its portfolio, a strategy that Barton said became important as federal government needs in Iraq and Afghanistan began to change.

Two acquisitions in 2013 underscore the evolution at Vanquish Worldwide. One – Front Range Training and Consulting – was a 10-year old entity at the time that delivered training to law enforcement officers and U.S. Department of Defense personnel. Its client base was complementary, but the acquisition of Front Range added a broadened mix of services.

The other – Peak Technical Institute – was founded in 2009 to offer a certificate training program for technicians dealing with unexploded ordnances. Today, the company offers three additional certificate programs including a unique one in Professional Household Management (PHM) that fills needs in the military as well as private sector.

Barton explained that very senior military officers have enlisted aides who manage their households, much as PHMs do for high net wealth individuals.

“We have an exclusive contract to provide this training for all U.S. Air Force aides,” Barton says. The training covers everything from day-to-day operations to more specialized topics like international etiquette, household security, and emergency management.

The course for military aides is two weeks, while the one for private employers is four weeks.

Drawing on Vanquish Worldwide’s logistical and transportation work for the military, Barton and his team have become an Independent Service Provider for FedEx Ground, rapidly growing that business.

Even as Barton focuses on growing the Vanquish Worldwide portfolio, he’s also heavily involved in community activities. Barton and the company are generous supporters of a number of local organizations as well as causes related to veterans. We are well aware of his support for the Tennessee Veterans Business Association and its annual business plan competition.

“I wake-up every morning being thankful and wanting to be a good person,” he says. “I want to be pleasing to God and my family and have a good time.”

We asked Barton for some advice he would offer other entrepreneurs.

“There’s something magical about having one-, three- and five-year goals,” he says, adding “Write it down, think about it, and envision doing it.”

He clearly has been practicing that philosophy.

Originally posted on Teknovation.biz

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Teknovation.biz on Eric Barton, PART 2: Eric Barton personifies “plan your work and work your plan”

Posted on January 6, 2016 with No Comments

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a three-part series focused on Eric Barton and the Vanquish Worldwide portfolio of enterprises.)

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.

Eric Barton of Vanquish Worldwide LLC clearly personifies the old adage of “plan your work and work your plan.”

In a little over two decades, the soft spoken resident of Friendsville has gone from being an enlisted 17-year old in the U.S. Marines to earning a Meritorious Commission to becoming an U. S. Army Chaplain and, most recently, being named “Young Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce.

The last honor, bestowed at the annual “Pinnacle Awards” banquet in May, recognized the phenomenal growth that Barton and his team have spearheaded since the Illinois native founded Vanquish Worldwide in 2007.

“We have these goals that are very concrete,” Barton told us in relation to one of the 28 (and counting) companies that are part of his portfolio.

One could readily call it a meteoric rise for the business executive who says he initially planned to stay in the military until retirement. It is easy to understand why he might want to do so, having earned numerous college degrees (see previous article in this series), not to mention the commission and subsequent service as an Intelligence Officer.

“I learned a lot about leadership in the service,” Barton says. “I learned what is fair and balanced . . . how to treat people.”

Yet, he found himself working in 2005 as a Project Manager for EODT, a company now known as Sterling Global. Barton was stationed in the Middle East, coordinating logistics support. It was not his first work in the region, and it would not be his last.

A short time later, he joined with some friends to found Critical Mission Support Services, an entity later renamed Relyant. They bid on and won a contract to provide maintenance support in Iraq’s infamous Al Anbar Province, and Barton was off to the races.

“It was our first bid and, as luck would have it, we won,” he explained.

During those early years with Relyant, Barton spent much of his time in the Middle East. When he came back in 2009, the family settled in Friendsville, a place they had never previously lived.

“I got to know the region earlier,” Barton told us, explaining that the family traveled through the area when visiting his wife’s family in North Carolina or his in Southern Illinois. “East Tennessee was about halfway between the two.”

Barton started Vanquish Worldwide in 2007, but had not spent much time on it until he sold his interest in Relyant at the end of 2010.

“Vanquish became my primary focus in 2011,” he said. The results since then speak for themselves, ranging from strategic diversification to some significant contracts. Perhaps most notable is a $985 million IDIQ contract for which Vanquish Worldwide has already billed $65 million.

For those not familiar with the term, IDIQ stands for “indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity.” It is a government procurement process where the actual quantity and delivery requirements are set by specific task orders issued against the basic agreement.

NEXT: A look at some of the businesses that are part of the Vanquish Worldwide portfolio.

Originally posted on Teknovation.biz

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