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Barr Engineering Co. names Ward Swanson as president and CEO

Barr Engineering Co. names Ward Swanson as incoming president and CEO

For immediate release | June 15, 2021

Barr Engineering Co. today announced Ward Swanson, a Barr vice president and senior environmental scientist, has been named president and CEO of the employee-owned engineering and environmental consulting firm. Swanson will succeed John Lee, who has led the company as president and CEO for the past eight years.

“Barr is known for delivering exceptional client service, fostering a highly engaged internal culture, and bringing employees’ passion for excellence to all aspects of our work,” said Board Chair Tina Pint. “We are confident that Ward will do an exceptional job in sustaining the Barr that our clients know and trust, even as we continue to evolve and innovate to meet the future needs of the industries we serve.”

A board-appointed CEO selection committee chose Swanson for the role, and the committee’s decision was approved by Barr’s board of directors at its June 8 board meeting. Swanson will assume the position in late July 2021.

A 23-year employee of Barr and a leading expert on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), Swanson previously led Barr’s Assessment and Remediation business unit, and he has worked with every Barr business unit and industry sector. In addition to serving as a technical leader in environmental chemistry, Swanson has led business-development efforts for key service areas, as well internal initiatives related to staffing and recruiting. A member of Barr’s board of directors, Swanson has served as a coach and mentor to dozens of Barr employees over the years.

“I am excited about the opportunity to lead the Barr team as we continue to help our clients solve some of the most complex challenges they face,” said Swanson. “Thanks to our outstanding employee owners, as well as John Lee, the board of directors and management team, Barr is in a very strong position as we prepare to make this leadership transition.”

John Lee will remain with the company after stepping down from the CEO role, carrying on a longstanding tradition of former Barr CEOs who have remained with the company and continued to contribute to its success in a range of capacities. Since Lee became CEO in 2013, Barr has doubled in size, expanded geographically, and successfully integrated six acquisitions.

“I am looking forward to supporting Ward as he makes this important transition,” said Lee. “His proven leadership skills and deep understanding of our business and culture will serve this company and our valued clients extremely well.”  

About Barr
An employee-owned engineering and environmental consulting firm incorporated in 1966, Barr solves complex challenges and delivers comprehensive solutions in mining, fuels, power, the public sector, and manufacturing. Barr’s nearly 900 employees serve clients across North America and worldwide from offices in Minneapolis, Duluth, and Hibbing, Minnesota; Calgary, Alberta; Denver, Colorado; Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Jefferson City, Missouri; Bismarck, North Dakota; and Salt Lake City, Utah; and from project offices in Reno, Nevada; Rock Springs, Wyoming; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; and Fort McMurray, Alberta.
Contact: Stephanie Kraynick
Phone: +1-651-900-1824