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

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. Ward 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 Ward for the role, and the committee’s decision was approved by Barr’s board of directors at its June 8 board meeting. Ward will assume the position in late July 2021.

A 23-year employee of Barr and a leading expert on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), Ward 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, Ward has led business-development efforts for key service areas, as well as internal initiatives related to staffing and recruiting. A member of Barr’s board of directors, Ward 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 Ward. “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 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 John 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 John. “His proven leadership skills and deep understanding of our business and culture will serve this company and our valued clients extremely well.”


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