As a long-standing business in Whatcom County, Barron Heating AC Electrical & Plumbing CEO Brad Barron says the company’s culture can be described by ‘four Cs of Caring’: co-workers, customers, community, and company.

If they take care of their coworkers, customers, and community, Brad says, the company will do just fine. Doing so means abiding by their core values, which include being a people-first, relationship-focused organization that emphasizes being mindful, trustworthy, and growth-oriented.

“When we look at our core values, it’s important to realize how we participate as a company within our greater community,” says Brad. “As business leaders, we need to help steward the resources to focus in on the parts of our community that are most vulnerable.”

With that in mind, the company has launched Barron KARES, a philanthropic initiative focused on providing a different charity or nonprofit a percentage of select sales each month. The acronym’s letters stand for kindness, appreciation, response, empathy, and service.

“All of those words, to us, mean something,” Brad says.

Brad and John Barron are proud to helm a Whatcom County business that emphasizes giving back to the community and those in need. Photo courtesy Barron Heating AC Electrical & Plumbing

Making a Tangible Difference

When Barron’s leadership team discussed how they specifically wanted to contribute to nonprofit organizations, they settled upon a $110 donation from sales of equipment like tankless water heaters, heat pumps, solar installations, generators, and more.

That dollar amount is especially meaningful to company owner John Barron, who was inspired by a high school wrestling coach to always exceed expectations and give 110% effort. In total, the aim of Barron KARES is to donate at least $10,000 each month to a worthy recipient.

In February, Barron KARES partnered with Skookum Kids — a Northwest Washington nonprofit focused on children in foster care. The organization licenses foster parents, places children in loving homes, cares for them at emergency shelters, and supports families rebuilding after time apart. In the last eight years, Skookum has seen more than 800 children at its emergency shelters.

“They’re really able to take kids that are probably in one of the most vulnerable — if not the most vulnerable — parts of their lives and give them a safe space to land,” says Brad. “They provide the families that raise those foster kids the resources to do it well. Just a really, really amazing organization.”

While Brad doesn’t yet know the exact dollars and cents raised for Skookum in February, he noted the amount is in excess of $10,000, exceeding the monthly goal Barron had set – a big thanks to both long-standing and first-time customers who partnered with Barron in February when they invested in new HVAC, Electrical, and Plumbing systems.

The official logo for the Barron KARES initiative features Brad Barron’s 1979 Volkswagen, known as the Kindness Kamper, along with the words that make up the acronym. Photo courtesy Barron Heating AC Electrical & Plumbing

Looking Ahead

In March, Barron KARES will support the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, a nationwide nonprofit with the goal of raising awareness and treatment of those affected with multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic neurological condition that effects the central nervous system. In MS, overactive immune cells cause inflammation that damages the fatty layer that insulates nerve fibers. The result is scarring throughout the central nervous system, which prevents nerve signals from transmitting properly.

Not only is March MS Awareness Month, but Barron’s decision is a very personal one: Vivian Barron, the co-founding matriarch of Barron Heating, suffered from relapsing remitting MS. This form of MS (there are several, which vary in progression) features episodes of debilitation followed by periods of dormancy. Vivian suffered with this for most of her adult life, from age 33 until her death at 82 in 2017.

“She was the bravest and most loving, kind woman,” Brad says. “Being able to honor her and get after helping that foundation to find a cure is something we’re proud to do.”

Since notice of the Barron KARES initiative began, community members have responded with suggestions for more than three dozen nonprofit and charitable organizations that may end up being chosen for monthly donations.

“It’s been a really amazing response,” says Brad. “It’s humbling to see how committed our community is to helping those in need, and it confirms why we’re doing what we’re doing. The need is real, the need is large. And as a leader in business, we bear a responsibility to take care of our community. It’s very validating.”

One of Brad’s personal vehicles will also be part of the Barron KARES initiative. His beige 1979 Volkswagen Westfalia Camper is becoming the “Kindness Kamper,” complete with an official logo. Brad will drive the vehicle to personally deliver the final funding amounts to each of the nonprofits who are chosen in the fundraising campaign.

“Our marketing team did a really neat job,” Brad says. “We’re really leaning into it. Hopefully in the future, if someone sees my bus with the ‘Kindness Kamper’ logo driving by, they know exactly what I’m going to do.”


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