Peter Barro – An Enduring Legacy

By on January 31, 2019

Peter Barro was born on 29th June 1957 and passed away 25th October 2018. Peter’s passing will leave a loss for his wife, Christine, his sisters Rhonda, Elena and brother Raymond, the Barro Group employees and the quarrying industry as a whole. Peter was an Executive Director with the Barro Group and was instrumental in securing strategic stone and sand resources, positioning the company in a strong position for decades to come. Peter’s legacy to the Barro Group, his family and the extractive industries will endure.

Peter Barro

Peter was always destined to follow in his father’s footsteps and started work in the laboratory at Bacchus Marsh quarry and in different roles at Point Wilson and Sunshine quarries. Peter’s formal training in the extractive industry was complete when the quarry Manager’s Board in Victoria issued Peter with the Quarry Manager’s Superintendent certificate, which allowed Peter to manage any quarry in Victoria.

Peter had found his niche within the family business and the skills he brought forward have and will benefit the company for many years to come. The identification, retention and development of the Barro Group raw material assets and his passion and personal involvement in crushing plant selection, design and output were outstanding contributions. One could see in the most recent plants an artistic flair, with respect to both shape and blending of colour in the processing plants layout.

You were well aware of the pride and respect Peter held for his late father David and Uncle Mark as well as his wife, siblings and Ian Alexander when it came to the outcomes being achieved by the family business. In conversations with Peter, he would always associate the Barro Group as a private business in competition with the public companies.

He identified with and was extremely proud of the humble beginnings of the family’s business, the significance of its loyal workforce and its managers.

Peter understood the important role that small businesses play in the economy and he was always willing to help those business partners to survive. Over the years Peter was able to forge long partnerships that were based on respect, loyalty and trust. Peter’s “yes we can” attitude delivered fair outcomes for the Barro Group and its partners.

Peter planting trees at Pt Wilson

Peter has been driving the innovation of sand extraction below the water table without having to dewater the sand pits. With the shortage of sand resources for the booming infrastructure projects in Victoria, the approach would provide much needed sand resources which can be extracted with a much smaller footprint and less impact on the environment and ground water resources.

Peter was acutely aware of the economics for the extractive industry and was always prepared to take on the governments of the day in relation to unnecessary red tape, access to resources and the approval process. Peter articulated the benefits of a strong quarrying industry to infrastructure
projects and Victorian economy and the community.

Peter, Basil, Ron, Sarah and Cameron – Access to resources discussion.

When you met Peter, he would smile, lean forward and physically draw you into the conversation. It was always evident that he had a deep knowledge of the industry and its participants. He was inquisitive by nature and always searching for information. Peter was charismatic, charming, funny, and innovative. He was the negotiator, the deal maker and loved nothing more than spending time in the field with his people, his plant and his sand pits and quarries.

Peter loved people, he was gregarious, and the guy everyone wanted to be with. He was happy in any company – whether it be catwalks and fashion shows supporting Christine, quarry and industry events, wining and dining with Melbourne royalty, or generously supporting charities at a Spring Racing Carnival.

Peter was an amazing Dad to young David, a loving husband to Christine and was very proud of Christine’s achievements, her recognition within the fashion industry, her business acumen and her personal inner strength. Peter’s generosity and funloving spirit knew no bounds.

Christine’s heart felt words in the “celebration of life” distributed at Peter’s funeral gives us an insight into the loving marriage and Peter’s ability to bring light and laugher to the darkest point of the room. He brought people together, marrying one talent to another’s resources. He was “the connector”; the man who took no credit for the clever couplings that often bore transformative results.

Peter with Rob always with a smile.

Peter’s obsessive want to drill down to the smallest technicalities of stuff, earned Peter the tongue in cheek title of “The Minister for Detail”. Be it in making of wine, the signing of a commercial contract, or the creative design of a new quarry, he always believed that a rigorous attention to the micro detail made for the macro success.

His need to find a better way was all consuming, but when he did conceive of smarter “doing” and determined that he would bring it to immediate fruition, proved all the naysayers wrong. Though, he never sought to lord it over anyone. He just loved the game of it all shaping and shifting the landscape of accepted norm, be it in business, design or a distant town.

Peter would see the food industry in action and want to replicate it with his own genius inventions, for example the wood-fired oven that he designed in dry-stone in Merrijig located at the base of Mount Bulla. From the inner glow of its beehive dome, Peter would feed his tribe with a spread of Saltimbocca that slid into an evening smorgasbord of pizza. The locals would drift in and out, indulging in Peter’s hilarity, gourmet hospitality and good advice on how to run a business and a local bureaucracy.

For serially agitating them into civic activity, they declared Peter the default Mayor of Merrijig, a title that he indulged with full authority each and every Easter, when his four-day festival of eating and drinking drove into town and turned it upside down with more constructed follies and counseling on business.

Peter loved colour.

Peter loved colour – he spent a lot of time in black, but he was spectacular in colour, and wore it well. He literally lit up a room. Peter’s presence always ensured the event went up several notches, and conversely, was not quite the same without him. Peter was a National Treasure and Industry Icon.

We will reflect upon the loss of Peter’s presence, his wisdom, his social and culinary skills, his distinctive welcoming voice, his sense of humour, his interest in his family’s wellbeing and finally our industry’s general wellbeing. For all of us who knew Peter it will endure for the rest of our lives.

The article was prepared from extracts prepared by Christine Barro, Ron Kerr, and Bruce Edwards and from interviews with Basil Natoli, Mike McCann, Rob Snowden and Craig Cahill.

John Mitas
Managing Director
John Mitas Consulting
M. 0418 506 172
E. johnmitas40@gmail.com

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