Position: President and CEO
Company: Xenetech Global
Family: Wife, five children, three grandchildren
Hometown: New Orleans
Education: Bachelor of Science in finance, LSU
In the news:
Xenetech Global is a Baton Rouge company that has expanded its reach worldwide, making its mark in the development and manufacturing of laser and rotary engraving systems. President and CEO Guy Barone co-founded the company in the mid-1980s, and today Xenetech has shipped over 7,000 machines to large manufacturers and retailers all over the world, even customers as far away as Australia.
What was your very first job, how old were you and what was your biggest takeaway from the experience?
It was a summer job as a waiter at a five-star restaurant in the Hilton Hotel, downtown New Orleans. I learned that creating a successful customer experience and leading to repeat business involved much more than providing great food—it requires developing a relationship, anticipating needs, being responsive and executing on commitments. I’m still drawing from this experience.
What time do you typically get up on a workday, and what’s your ideal morning routine to get it off to a great start?
I wake at roughly 5:30 a.m., drink coffee and read national and local news and LSU sports, then I’m off on a neighborhood speed walk, some exercise, breakfast, prayer time and off to the office for as close to 8 a.m. as possible. On special mornings, I get to spend a few minutes of FaceTime with my grandchildren in Birmingham or I get a visit from my grandson in Baton Rouge.
For those who are not familiar with Xenetech Global, tell us a little bit about the company’s primary products and who your customers are.
We develop software and hardware, as well as manufacture, distribute and provide technical support for our CNC-type and laser engraving systems. These systems mark a wide variety of materials—metals, plastics, wood, leather, and more and items from industrial applications to signs, jewelry, tags, plaques, trophies, cups, bowls, tags and more. We began in 1986 and have shipped over 7,000 machines to large manufacturers, military and retailers all over the world.
You co-founded Xenetech in 1986. How has technology disrupted your industry since then—especially in the past decade—and how has your company evolved to adapt and take advantage of new opportunities?
Throughout our history we’ve worked to identify the latest technology and apply it to engraving and cutting applications. We began by developing CNC-type engraving systems and leveraged our expertise in software and motion control to double our product offering with faster and more productive CO2 laser marking systems. As PC hardware and operating systems evolved, we’ve utilized the technology in our controllers enabling our customers to upgrade existing systems rather than completely replacing systems. Our mission is to be “an extension of our customer’s business” and to us that means providing our users with cost effective technology to continually improve their system’s utility and productivity.
You left Xenetech in 1989 to join Dow Chemical as senior communications manager before returning to the company in 1996. What prompted the temporary career change, and were there any lessons or insights you took from working for a massive company like Dow that you were then able to apply at Xenetech?
In the beginning, there were a number of shareholders that rarely agreed on direction so I resigned and was very fortunate to be hired by Dow in Public Affairs. It was fantastic working at Dow with great people and an exceptional manager. The varied experiences of working with the national news media to Dow local and global leadership to local community and political leaders were invaluable. I learned that skills and education, in my case entrepreneurial and finance and accounting, are certainly transferrable. I believe I was able to bring new perspectives in performance evaluation and execution to my public affairs role and in returning to Xenetech, the corporate training and structure I received at Dow helped guide my contributions at Xenetech.
Is automation, or robots, something your company has incorporated into your manufacturing process, and if not, do you anticipate incorporating such technology in the future?
Due to our broad product line and customization of many products as well as the cost barrier to entry, it is difficult for us to utilize automation, but we will always to open to cost savings and increased productivity.
What’s a leadership skill you’ve learned the hard way?
I have failed plenty enough to realize that I don’t always have the right answer. It is so important to solicit 360 input and listen, even when you believe you know what to do.
What’s something about your job or company that might surprise people?
Our customers use our engraving systems in all kinds of environments and for all kinds of applications all over the world. We have customers using our systems to mark gold in a goldmine in Australia to customers at missile defense in an undisclosed U.S. location, to golf club manufacturers in Korea, jet engine manufacturers in the UK and Brazilian naval ships.
What are some of your hobbies or favorite things to do in your free time?
I enjoy spending time with my grandchildren, family and my bride. Believe it or not, I do enjoy working on the honey-do list around the house and camp, following LSU football and baseball as well as fishing when time allows.
You’re taking me out to a business lunch in Baton Rouge. Where are you most likely to take me and what do you recommend I order?
I’d probably suggest we meet at TJ Ribs on Siegen, and after a 30-minute discussion on healthy eating and the Whole30 diet, I’d probably suggest you order the grilled chicken and spinach—but would certainly not blame you if you go for the ribs.
What’s one of the smartest purchases you’ve ever made? What’s one of the dumbest?
The smartest purchase is the camp we built in Pass Christian in 1994. It was a place we retreated to as a family as our children grew. The dumbest was the long line of used cars I’ve purchased and fixed for my children as they grew.
As a husband and father with a demanding career, what is your strategy for maintaining a healthy work-life balance? wwww
This has been the most important and difficult challenge. When our children were small, we developed a family mission statement. My role in that mission gives me direction and I try to execute each day. I rely on my faith, my supportive bride and understanding coworkers. One of the great beauties of life is that when you fail to reach the optimal balance, you get to wake up the next day and have the opportunity to work hard for improvement.
What’s one of the luckiest things that has ever happened to you?
No contest—Jeanne Hamilton said yes when I asked her to marry me. Anyone that knows her will attest that is the day I won the lottery.
What is something you are absolutely determined to do in life?
First was to provide a nurturing and faith-filled home for our children and provide for their education through college. In two years (maybe three) we’ll have achieved that. So, next I’d like to be in a position to provide whatever skills and talents I have to help others in need for any number of worthy causes.