Wood Industry Market Leader: Alicia Barker, Organizers Direct Industries
The president of Organizer’s Direct Industries, Alicia Barker leads one of the largest home organization firms in the nation, known for its comprehensive line of custom cabinetry and organization systems. Headquartered in Arizona, the company boasts the nation’s largest dealer network of independent closet organizer and garage storage design businesses.
“We provide our dealers with all of the training and support of a franchise without any of the cost, restrictions, or legalities,” said Barker. “This is huge for our dealers who are primarily entrepreneurs and want to retain control of their business decisions!” The company has also developed strategic partnerships and programs that enable it “to be more nimble” in keeping up with trends.
ODI continues to thrive under Barker’s leadership. She credits founder Neil Balter – and her several years of sharing an office with him – for teaching her “a LOT about closets and people skills by hearing him give advice to dealers all day long.”
Barker traces her interest in organization, design and architecture to her childhood. "When I was a kid, my mom was in real estate and my dad was an engineer. If my mom had a buyer looking for a home like ours, she would sell our house and my dad would work with an architect to design and build a new one. This happened so many times I started keeping moving boxes under my bed just in case! As a result, I grew up studying architectural blueprints, walking construction sites, reviewing material samples, and planning the placement of furniture and electrical outlets," she said.
"I actually considered becoming an architect, but due to the market conditions at the time I went to college, I decided an accounting degree would be more practical. I now have the best of both worlds."
While her educational background as a CPA and an MBA has provided her with a solid understanding of the technical side of the business, "the diversity of my work and volunteer experiences helped prepare me for my current role. From public accounting at Price Waterhouse Coopers to teaching Master Piece Art at my kids’ school, from internal consulting for GAP, Inc. to being the volunteer coordinator for the Autism Speaks Walk, I have worked with many personalities and learned various means of achieving goals. The strategies and interpersonal skills I gleaned from each have helped me relate better to our customers and grow our business."
At ODI, Barker says her proudest achievement has been “creating the best team in the industry.” Incredibly talented, “each member of our team has a unique skill set, but the common denominator is that everyone is driven by a passion to help our customers succeed.”
With plans to invest in new machinery, systems and marketing, “Our goal is to enhance a brand of luxury home organization products that will help our dealers expand their businesses and increase their margins.”
ODI is also committed to helping the community, including a “corporate passion to invest time and money into autism research and public education.” Barker also is on the board of directors and a volunteer coach for Detour Company Theatre, a theater company for adults with physical and cognitive disabilities. “It has been an incredible experience to be part of this community.”
A foodie and architecture enthusiast, she also enjoys exploring new places. “I’ve been fortunate to travel and visit many places where I can soak up the local culture, revel in the unique building designs, and taste foods from different locales,” she said. “My oldest son just moved to the Netherlands, so I see a lot of stroopwafels in my future!”
• Education: BBA Accounting, Texas Christian University; CPA; MBA from University of Texas at Austin with a concentration in Marketing
• Number of years at the company: 11
• Number of years in the industry: 11
• Word that best describes you: Determined
• Business mantra: Always challenge the status quo.
• Best advice: Hire people better than you. (Neil Balter)
• Who have you tried to emulate: My dad was head of maintenance and engineering for American Airlines for 26 years. He always made decisions based on what he thought was right regardless of the political repercussions. He was also a man of integrity and never spun the truth for gain. Likewise, I would like to leave a legacy of innovation and honesty.
About the Wood Industry Market Leaders: This marks the 13th year Woodworking Network has paid tribute to outstanding men and women that have made an impact, not only at their companies, but within the various wood products industries. Since 2009, more than 85 industry professionals have shared their influencers, insights and strategies. Read more about the 2021 and past honorees at WoodworkingNetwork.com/Market-Leaders.