By Roger Harris, Tennessee Ledger
At first glance, Eric Barton’s family of companies seem unrelated. They range from trucking to horses to a school for estate managers.
But the businesses all share a connection of one sort or another, says the 39-year-old Maryville entrepreneur.
“Some of them started with a casual conversation that led to research that led to an opportunity that we thought either fit into our brand initially or fit into our longer three to five year goal,” Barton adds. “… Some are operating companies that I’m very involved in, some are investments that are ran by other people. So each one’s different.”
It was transportation and logistics company Vanquish Worldwide’s need for certified commercial truck drivers that lead to the acquisition of Peak Technical Institute, an occupational training school that offers Commercial Driver License courses and other educational programs.
Maryville College President Tom Bogart is talking with Barton about adapting some of PTI’s programs for the college, especially for veterans who come there.
“We like to partner with companies in the community and what I value with Eric is he is so creative at linking services. … He is a genius at seeing new opportunities and creating them,” Bogart says.
Barton also has an ownership interest in Domestic Estate Management Association, an educational association for the private service community.
“We have a professional butler school so why not buy an association that manages the entire community,” Barton says. “ … A lot of these things may seem diverse but they are connected.”
Here’s a closer look at a few of the more than 20 businesses in Barton’s portfolio:
The centerpiece of Barton’s business interests is Maryville-based Vanquish Worldwide. Founded in 2007, Vanquish provides transportation, logistics, manpower, security, facility support, vehicle maintenance and training services to commercial and government clients worldwide.
In 2011, the U.S. government awarded Vanquish a multi-year contract to provide services to U.S. operations in Afghanistan. Under the National Afghan Trucking contract, Vanquish distributes building materials, security equipment, fuel and other cargo and life support assets to operating bases and distribution sites.
On the commercial side, Vanquish provides freight services to more than 100 clients in the U.S. and Canada from 11 offices across the U.S. and terminals in Knoxville and Loveland, Colorado. Among its largest commercial customers are FedEx, Kodiak Manufacturing and Dell Computers.
From its Nashville facilities, Vanquish runs more than 70,000 miles of over the road routes a week to FedEx terminals and hubs nationwide. Vanquish is FedEx Ground’s largest independent pickup and delivery service provider in both the Nashville and Knoxville markets.
Front Range Training and Consulting
Front Range Training, also based in Loveland, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vanquish Worldwide. It offers training courses for local, state, and federal law enforcement officers throughout the U.S. and other countries.
Courses include firearms use, tactical emergency medical services, protective services, hostage rescue, urban scout/sniper, explosives handling, advanced patrol tactics and tactical team leader development, active shooter response and street survival.
Clients include the U.S. Marshall Service, U.S. Department of Anti-Terrorism Assistance Program, Drug Enforcement Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and well as state and local law enforcement agencies in 18 states.
Peak Technical Institute
Peak Technical is a private occupational school offer training courses in a wide range of job-specific industries. It has campuses in Maryville and Loveland.
In addition to CDL training for prospective truck drivers, Peak operates the Social Decorum Academy which offers a program to strengthen leadership skills and introduce the “rising business professional or diplomat” to the “finer points of international etiquette.”
For those looking for a career managing estates, the Professional Household Management program offers courses that cover household and travel protocols, international etiquette, event planning and security, household administration, medical, wardrobe, property and grounds, personal care and entertaining.
For something a bit more explosive, Peak offers the Unexploded Ordnance Technician program that teaches students how to safely handle and remove military munitions such as bombs, rockets, missiles, grenades and landmines. The course also offers Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response certification that meets federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration requirements.
Another Peak program is Leading by the Reins, a three-day executive outdoor leadership retreat. The program is led by internationally known horse trainer Mike Branch, who “believes that through successfully winning the trust of an animal whose nature it is to be fearful, that his students can use the same principles to be successful leaders of men and women,” according to the program’s website.
As part of the seminar, executives hear from a variety of well-known leaders, including former University of Tennessee head football coach Phil Fulmer, who recently joined Peak as a consultant.
LexLin Gypsy Ranch
Barton bought the Rockwood ranch as a place to raise his family and to breed Gypsy Vanner horses, a breed that Barton describes as a “majestic and yet gentle.” In addition to breeding and selling the horses, LexLin donates 10 horses a year through its Gypsy Gift program to accredited equine therapy centers across the U.S.
“One horse can service seven or eight people a day,” Barton explains. “If we give 50 horses away, imagine how many people can be helped over the next 20 years.”
Domestic Estate Management Association
DEMA, based in Orlando, provides a forum for private service professionals and vendors “interested in better serving and protecting the best interests of their clients,” according to its website. The association has members throughout the U.S. and 18 other countries.
The organization provides members with educational materials, webinars and networking opportunities with other private service professionals.
Vanquish Insurance Co.
When Barton realized how much money Vanquish Worldwide was spending on insurance coverage despite rarely having an insurance claim, he was determined to learn more about the insurance business.
He learned that he could save money and still cover his company’s risk through a so-called captive insurance company, a provider of self-insurance for its owners. Barton ultimately earned an insurance license and bought an insurance company now known as Vanquish Insurance.
Barton is now looking to form an insurance group to help other businesses develop self-insurance plans.
“We want them to know that if we can do it, they can do it,” Barton says.
Find the story online at: http://www.tnledger.com/knoxville/editorial/Article.aspx?id=84315