Tied tight Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2009

When a recruiter called Greg A. Tunney about the CEO position at R.G. Barry Corp., his response was simple: “Who? I’ve never heard of the company.”

Three years later, Tunney has put in a good bit of groundwork to make sure people in the footwear and accessory industry never make such a claim again.

Tunney joined R.G. Barry as president and chief operating officer during his first 60 days on the job to get a feel for daily operations. The company had a long history, having been founded in 1947, but the first thing Tunney noticed was the company culture needed adjustment if long-term success was going to be possible.

This was no easy task. Though R.G. Barry had been a public company since 1962, it had been run by the company founder and her son since day one and hadn’t had many updates in company culture along the way. When Tunney stepped into the CEO role, he went to the board and the company’s chairman, Gordon Zacks, who had been the previous CEO and was the son of the company founder, and asked for a sizable monetary investment for company culture and training.

When he got a resounding yes, he began to tie everything together, tapping the Covey Institute to develop a training program that included having every employee from top to bottom learn the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” From there, Tunney put in core values and developed a comfortable communication system that allowed people to speak up and take ownership. Today, company leaders are coaches and everyone else is a team member, encouraging a team atmosphere.

The results have R.G. Barry sprinting forward: It has generated more profit in the last three years than in the last 30 years combined and has put up 10 consecutive quarters of profit and growth.

How to reach: R.G. Barry Corp., (614) 864-6400 or www.rgbarry.com