Dee Barnes, president/CEO, says hiring key roles is both her biggest success and mistake.
Dee Barnes is the third generation of her family to lead
Evans Tool & Die and Metal Stamping, located in Conyers. The business was
started in 1948 in Decatur by Barnes’ grandparents, Leonard L. and Mary Alice
Evans, who both worked in the business and raised their family in the house
connected to the tool and die shop. In fact, their daughter’s play house was
the first facility, which later grew to accommodate the metal stamping side of
Today the business has grown considerably in size and
influence—87 employees with 400 years of collective experience, 160,000 square
feet of manufacturing space, a full-service tool and die shop and more than 67
punch presses for metal stamping—but the company’s core values are the same as
they were in 1948. Honesty. Integrity. Quality. Generosity.
Barnes has been in the business for almost 30 years, serving
first as the accounting controller, then as the estate planning manager and
beginning in 2011, as president and CEO. She is a driving force behind the
company’s commitment to “Made in America” manufacturing, and she says one of
the biggest challenges for the business has been the manufacturing exodus to
overseas facilities in the past decade.
“Competing with overseas markets has been difficult,” Barnes
says. “We have seen manufacturing slowly returning over the past five years,
but it’s still a challenge.”
Barnes also says, as CEO, she has faced the challenge of
making necessary changes to keep the company competitive. With a loyal and
dedicated employee base—the average tenure is 18 years—implementing new
procedures can be a tough sell.
“In a culture with long-time employees, it sometimes is hard
to accept change and innovation,” she says. “When a family business grows,
there is a need to make real changes from how a small business runs to a larger
In order to keep up with company growth, Barnes has overseen
updates like new enterprise resource planning systems, leaner manufacturing
processes, new quality control procedures and updated security protocols.
Barnes says she has also learned the importance of careful
“[My biggest] success would be hiring ‘A’ players in strategic
positions to help position the company for great success,” she says. “I have
learned that being patient and strategic in searching for the right fit in key
positions pays off. [My] biggest mistake might be making the wrong hiring
decision in a key position. I learned to take more time in searching and apply
a combination of different screening techniques/interviews before hiring.”
As a small business owner, Barnes believes the most
rewarding thing about it is being in the position to make decisions that create
success, not only bettering her own family’s life, but all of those around her,
including employees and their families as well as the community at large.